Review Contents
Advantages
Best Home Theater Projectors
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
NEC NP115 Projector NEC NP115
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Street Price: n/a
MSRP:$599
3D: PC 3D Ready
Contrast:2,000:1
Lumens:2500
Weight: 5.5 lbs
Resolution:800x600
Aspect Ratio:4:3
Technology:DLP
Lens:1.1x manual
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:3,500 Hrs
5,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:$179.00
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, RGB, RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 576i, 576p

NEC NP115
Great Home Entertainment for $399

Bill Livolsi, August 17, 2010

Since the introduction of pico projectors, people have looked at them as solutions for home entertainment. We can see why; they are highly portable, very inexpensive, and the lamp never needs replacing. However, they have some downsides, such as low resolution, minuscule lumen output, and the inability to adjust color. An exciting alternative to the pico for home entertainment is the NEC NP115. This SVGA (800x600) DLP projector costs only $399, which is no more than a decent pico projector. But it has higher resolution than most of them, a much brighter 2500 lumen picture, better contrast, adjustable color, a 5,000 hour lamp life, and a seven-watt speaker. The NP115 is inexpensive, fully-featured, and video looks great. If you want the big picture experience for not a lot of money, look no further.

Advantages

Image quality. Since the NP115 was designed to be used with text and data graphics, you might be wondering why we are discussing it for video. The short answer is "because it looks good." Our preferred preset for film and video is Movie mode, which tones down highlights and uses a warmer color temperature setting than the more presentation-oriented selections. In Movie mode, our test unit put out 1030 lumens, which is bright enough for a 100" diagonal image even with significant ambient light. Highlights do not appear blown out. Contrast is such that shadow detail is maintained very well, and there is no crushing of deep shadows. Color is well saturated and vibrant. Standard-definition DVDs are sharp and detailed, and the NP115 compresses HD signals without making a mess. Though the projector has only native 800x600 resolution, it will take up to a 1080i signal from a Blu-ray player. The resulting picture is much tighter and cleaner than standard DVD, and it is an excellent value for the money.

Light output. The NP115, as a presentation projector, is plenty bright. Out of a rated 2500 lumen maximum, our test sample measured 2343 lumens using the High Bright image preset. For video, we preferred Movie mode, which brought white balance closer to the ideal 6500 degrees Kelvin. Movie mode measured 1030 lumens with the lamp on full power, and eco-mode reduced it to 887 lumens, or a 14% drop. This is still plenty of light for a 100" to 120" 4:3 screen, and even some ambient light is permissible if required. Running in eco-mode not only produces plenty of light, but it extends lamp life to 5000 hours and reduces fan noise to boot.

On a smaller screen or in a dark viewing room, 887 lumens might be too much light. On the other hand, in a brighter room, you might require even more light. The NP115 has image modes suitable for several viewing environments. For rooms with excellent light control, sRGB mode boosts contrast, deepens black levels slightly, and produces 492 lumens in eco-mode. Presentation mode, on the other end of the spectrum, produces 2034 lumens with better color fidelity than that found in High-Bright. For photos, Graphic mode combines a bright picture, at 1364 lumens, with good color saturation. Eco-mode can be applied to any of these image modes, reducing output by 14%. As you can see, the NP115 covers a wide range of lumen output, from 423 (sRGB, eco-mode) up to 2343 (High-Bright, high lamp).

Review Contents: Advantages Additional Advantages Limitations

Reader Comments(4 comments)

Posted Oct 3, 2010 8:43:08 PM

By Ed Luedke

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I recently bought this projector based on the review by this website. I installed it as a ceiling mount in a converted garage/ play room with 9 foot ceilings and no windows. I positioned it as to have a 110" diagonal. The kids absolutely love it. I paired it with an Asrock Ion 330HT- BD and true to the review, the blueray playback looks great. I painted a flat wall with Behr Silver Screen. I am extremely happy with the price vs value. It is perfect for the kids. I like the 2 year warranty and the 5000 hour bulb life.

Posted Aug 22, 2010 8:01:18 PM

By Nabi

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I got a BenQ 515 last winter for about 350--prices are really coming down and I needed something portable. Normal lamp life but--what the heck--who wants to keep an 8 by 6 forever? Just last month I got an Acer k11 for 400. Only 200 lumens but for home theatre on a budget I really recommend it. Colors are great, the SDE is minimal, great connectivity, top lamp life and ultra portability.

Posted Aug 17, 2010 12:30:58 PM

By Steve Atkinson

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Personally I would rather pick up a used Mitsubishi HD-1000u which is a native 16x9 720p projector with a great track record.

Used they can most likely be picked up for the same price and will provide a much better image.

IMHO of course !! :-)

Posted Aug 17, 2010 11:14:51 AM

By PatB

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It looks like the InFocus X-1 rides again. Friends who came over to see my projector were always impressed by the X-1 even if it had only a 2X color wheel and SVGA resolution. Sure my new HD projector looks better but not as much better as you might think.

This looks like a good choice as a gift for an old girl friend.

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