Viewsonic PLED W500 portable projector
The codecs built in to the PLED-W500 can cope with regular AVI and MOV movie formats on a USB stick or SD card, but for home cinema viewing you'll probably want to hook up the projector to an HD TV tuner and/or a multimedia player. For my tests I used Viewsonic's own VMP74 digital media player connected using HDMI.
Lighting up the room
Frankly I didn't expect much. I was wrong. The colours are rich and deep, with accurate skin-tones, and the menu offers you the sort of picture control you'd expect from a dedicated home theatre projector at twice the price. If you're particularly susceptible to the "rainbow" effect characteristic of single DLP projectors you'll notice this hasn't completely gone away with LED illumination, although I didn't find it at all bothersome.
Takes SD cards and supports a variety of file formats so you can leave the laptop behind.
Auto-keystoning works to square off the picture accurately as you tilt the machine. At this price there's no lens shift and, alas, no zoom, so for any given projector-to-screen distance you're stuck with a fixed picture size. Luckily my sitting room seems to have been designed for the PLED-W500: at 125 inches from the blank wall I use for a screen I got a 100 inch diagonal picture that was perfect for setting.
Instant Home Cinema, for a price
If you don't mind the missing bells and whistles (lens shift, zoom) and can hook the PLED-W500 to a sound system to substitute for the good-enough-for-presentation built in 2W speaker, here's a cracking good entry-level home cinema projector. At a bargain price, too, particularly if you cost in what you're saving on replacement lamps. ®
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