Personal Entertainment Projector Review
May 17, 2011
Projectors aren't toys. Or, at least, projectors usually aren't toys. The Optoma Playtime PT100 is a toy, or close to one. This LED-powered projector is as simple and as foolproof as can be, more straightforward than most pico projectors, even. However, it also has a price that's almost too low to be believed. Hook it up to your kids' game system and let them enjoy playing on the "big screen." Or install one in your car for a great rolling entertainment system. At street prices of only about $180, you can put the PT100 more or less wherever you'd like.
Applications / Best Uses
How much projector can you get for less than two hundred bucks? The PT100 only puts out about 40 lumens. It has no zoom, no lens shift, no remote control, and very few menu options. There's no way to adjust color or contrast--the image looks how it looks. However, none of that really matters for the PT100's intended purpose. When you're setting up a projector for your kids, you don't need or want a bunch of options, because the kids will find a way to break something. A remote can get lost or broken. By keeping it simple and inexpensive, Optoma has made the PT100 essentially kid-proof, if not disposable.
Since the PT100 only produces about 40 lumens in its brightest mode, you'll need to be mindful of image size in relation to room lighting. If your room has any significant ambient light, like a 100W lamp, you should keep the image under 20" diagonal at most. At this size, highlights are bright and colors are vibrant and saturated. Color accuracy is rough at best, but it's easy enough to see what is happening on the screen. Shadow detail suffers, especially in very dark scenes, but the PT100's competitors in this price bracket are pico projectors which look far worse under the same conditions. In a completely dark room, you can double the image size to 40" diagonal and still produce an acceptable picture.
The best places to put the PT100 are places you wouldn't normally think to put a projector. Consider it instead of a television for the kids' game room. Take one on the road for family movie night in your hotel room. Set one up in the back of the minivan (plus one of the many available portable screens) for a rolling theater. What it's not built for is home theater, or for that matter mobile presentation, for which it is too rough around the edges.