capsule review

Lightweight, Portable Projectors

The word portable was used to refer to gear that you could strap to your back and take on the road, but rarely did it also mean gear that was lightweight. Yet these days, equipment that's called portable can be slipped in a briefcase or even strapped to your wrist. Though you can't yet carry a projector in this manner, Proxima's Ultralight DX3 and CTX International's DP-710 both weigh in at five pounds, so they're built for easily taking presentations on the road. Also, both use DLP to process their images, which produces sharper detail in projectors than LCD. However, the Ultralight DX3 has superior image quality and is much easier to use.

Getting started with a projector can be as easy as plugging it in, or as difficult as running software-assisted configuration programs. We found the DX3 to be easier to set up. It required no configuring or adjusting to get the image looking its best. In fact, we didn't even shut down the machine it was connected to, and it came on without a problem (although this isn't recommended, it was a good sign). To get a decent image, we needed to tweak the DP-710 with its manual controls, and then it required that we run a configuration program that's built into the projector. The outcome: still not that great. Images weren't as brilliant and sharp as they were with the DX3.

Once we had our projectors hooked up and configured correctly, we looked at a variety of Web pages (including our own), as well as a handful of black-and-white and color images. Checking mostly for image quality and color accuracy, we found the DX3, again, exceeded or met our expectations. Viewing our own Web page, the DX3 projector displayed the colors correctly, with vivid red in our logo and accurate color throughout. The DP-710 made our Web page look faded and washed out. When we looked at a black-and-white image with subtle gradients, we noticed the DP-710 showed some wavy artifacts. The Proxima had the same effect, in the same area of the image, but it was far less noticeable. Also, PowerPoint users will appreciate that the DX3 provided much sharper text. It displayed characters like V and W with remarkable clarity, whereas the DP-710 displayed them with jagged edges.

You shouldn't have to interact too much with a projector, but when you do make adjustments, you'll want the experience to be easy and intuitive. The DP-710 uses overly simple menus; pressing the menu button scrolls through the menu options, but if you skip over the one you need, you have to scroll through them all again (you can't go backward). The DX3 features a simple pull-down menu, much like the ones on a Mac, and it has a remote with a small trackball, which makes for even easier navigation through the menus. The DP-710 comes with a regular push-button remote.

Anything portable tends to be more expensive than the desktop version, and portable projectors are no exception. But the performance and quality you'll get from Proxima's Ultralight DX3 far outpaces what you'll see with the CTX DP-710, making it an excellent choice for your dollar.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Small footprint
    • Light


    • Loud fan
    • Expensive
    • Counterintuitive menus
    • Poor image-quality
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