NEC M300XS XGA 3LCD Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$1,299 MSRP Discontinued

Let's say that you need a short-throw XGA projector of at least 3,000 lumens. Search our database, and you'll find a total of sixteen projectors that meet those three criteria. If you also need to connect digital inputs from computers and video sources such as DVD players, you are down to nine contenders. And if keeping your cost under $1,000 is required, you are left with only two projectors to choose from. One of them has a minimum throw distance of 2.6 feet with a lamp life of 3,000 hours, but the other, NEC's new NP-M300XS, can put up a 60" image from as little as 1.9 feet from the screen, and its lamp lasts 4,000 hours in Normal mode. The other contender is DLP-based and can handle certain versions of 3-D content which the M300XS cannot, but if 3-D is not a major part of your projection palette, then the M300XS is for you.

Of course, performance is important, and the M300XS does very well in many areas. Short-throw projectors usually exhibit low brightness uniformity (typically 60%) because of their large, compound lenses, but this is one of the nice surprises about the M300XS: uniformity is excellent at 86%, and no brightness variations are visible. Another upside is the video performance. Right out of the box, flesh tones are on the mark and while it does not rival a home theater projector, the M300XS delivers bright, color-balanced video that will impress your audience. If you can ceiling mount this projector, you are assured of casting no shadows on the image, but even if you cannot, it is close enough to the screen that you will be unlikely to get between the projector and the screen. Last but not least, our sample unit delivered far more brightness than its 3,000-lumen rating. In its High Bright mode, our test sample put up an astonishing 3,710 lumens. In all the projector reviews we've done, we have never seen a projector's lumen output exceed its specification by that much.

Advantages

Image Quality: Often there are focus inconsistencies with short-throw projectors, but the M300XS's compound lens is very well designed. Edge-to edge focus was excellent for data projections, and even small fonts were easy to read with full keystone correction. With factory settings, data characters were not as crisp as some projectors we have seen, but increasing the Sharpness setting produced good results.

Video performance was excellent. With no adjustments, colors were true and saturated, and the auto-iris boosted effective contrast so that highlights and shadows were rendered well. There was no digital noise with an HDMI source, and the images looked natural with no harshness. Movie mode is a bit bright for a darkened room, but in a bright room, you will be happy to have the punch the M300XS delivers. That said, using Eco mode is a good alternative since brightness is only reduced about 30% and fan noise is diminished.

Brightness and Uniformity: The M300XS preset modes delivered the following ANSI brightness levels: High Bright - 3,710 lumens, Presentation - 2,990 lumens, Video - 1,920 lumens, Movie - 2,455 lumens, Graphic - 2,190 lumens, sRGB - 2,385 lumens, and DICOM - 2,090 lumens. The DICOM preset is used for optimizing contrast while viewing medical x-rays. Uniformity was 86% with the center of the image slightly brighter than the periphery.

Connections: The rear panel of the M300XS features an HDMI port, two computer VGA connectors that double as component video inputs, one composite jack, and one s-video port. An RG-45 LAN/Internet connection is flanked by two USB connectors (type A and B), and both a DB-9 RS-232 serial connection and a monitor pass-through are nearby. Audio input for both VGA connections is provided, and there is an audio output if external amplification is desired.

The USB connections are of particular interest. The USB type A connection accepts thumb drives with .JPEG images for direct display without a computer. The Type B connection accommodates a USB cable directly from your PC once a simple software utility is installed.

Maintenance: The M300XS is one of the first projectors to use two-stage filters that do not need to be cleaned except in the dirtiest environments . . . they are simply replaced when the lamp is changed. Lamp replacement is made through the top cover. These are real conveniences, especially when the projector is ceiling-mounted.

Quick start/stop: You can get into and out of your presentation quickly with the M300XS. It powers up in about fifteen seconds and shuts down just a couple of seconds after you hit the Off key on the projector or the remote.

Lamp Life: Bright bulbs usually have shorter lives, but NEC claims that the M300XS's lamp will last for 4,000 hours in Normal mode and 5,000 hours in Eco mode.

Network Connections and Management: The M300XS has a D-sub 9 connector for remote sensing and control, and it also provides an RJ-45 network connection. The M300XS is Crestron-compatible, and it can be remotely monitored to provide status such as lamp condition and internal temperature and alert maintenance personnel to possible problems. An extra-cost wireless LAN module is also available.

Software Utilities: Included with your M300XS is an array of software utilities that enable certain features of the projector. There is a Powerpoint conversion package (Viewer PPT Converter) that allows you to move your Powerpoint presentation to a USB memory device for computer-free presenting. The Image Express Utility Lite gets your computer connected to the projector via a USB cable that carries both image and audio input without VGA and audio cables. It also contains a Geometric Correction Tool that allows you to modify the projected image so that it conforms to curved surfaces. Finally, there are two remote operation applications that allow computer control of the projector via a LAN or the VGA cable.

 

Limitations

Fan noise: In Normal mode, fan noise is about 35dB which will get the attention of those sitting near the projector. Fortunately, the projector will be located at the front of the room, so you may not find this to be a serious problem. A good solution which costs little in brightness is to use Eco mode which lowers fan noise to the 29dB range

Placement Inflexibility: Like most short-throw projectors, the M300XS has no zoom lens, so image size is directly proportional to the projector's distance from the screen. If you need to change image size, you will have to move the projector.

No User Memory: It is nice to be able to store your favorite presets and color settings in user memory, especially if your projector is shared with your colleagues. Unfortunately, that feature is missing from the M300XS's repertoire, so you may have to tweak settings when it is your time to use the projector.

Remote Control: The M300XS's remote control is somewhat complicated. It does offer a wide range of controls, but in a darkened room, finding your intended key can be difficult. Power, volume, and menu keys stand out, but other functions can be hard to distinguish.

No 3-D Compatibility: Since this is an LCD-based light engine, there is no provision for handling 3-D content.

Other Considerations

Aspect Ratio: The M300XS is an XGA (1024x768) projector with a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. If you prefer widescreen, NEC offers the M300WS, which is a widescreen version of this unit with 1280x800 resolution.

Image Size and Position: For a 60" image, the M300XS is about 39" from the screen and the centerline of the lens is even with the bottom of the image. This almost ensures that you will need to position the image higher by raising the front of the projector, using a drop tube on the ceiling mount, or tilting the projector in its ceiling mount. The projector can be elevated via a front elevator foot, and two adjustable rear feet solve any horizontal leveling issues. If the image keystones, there is ±20° of electronic keystone correction available. An included software utility can make further keystone adjustments.

Education Discount: The M300XS is listed on the DigitalEdge contract schedule at $779.40, and NEC's Star Student program enables dealers to offer an education discount as well. Replacement lamps are listed at $239.20 on the DigitalEdge schedule, so educators can save about 20%.

Audio Quality: The 10-watt mono speaker in the M300XS is adequate for a medium-size room, and it is buzz- and rattle-free over its entire range.

On-Screen Menus: The M300XS's menus are well designed and while they are rather extensive, they are easy to navigate. The only unusual characteristic is that image settings (brightness, contrast, etc.) cannot be preserved for a particular preset. For example, if you change settings for Presentation mode, they also change for all other preset modes.

Preset modes: The M300XS has more preset modes than most projectors: High Bright, Presentation, Video, Movie, Graphic, sRGB, and DICOM. This offers a variety of image customizations with Movie and sRGB being the most effective in optimizing their sources (DVDs and photos, respectively).

Warranty Provisions: NEC warrants the projector for two years and the NP16LP lamp for 500 hours or one year, whichever occurs first. A replacement lamp is available from the factory for $299.

Conclusion

When a long-throw projector will not do the job, short-throw versions like the M300XS fill the gap. The M300XS handles nearly all sources, it is bright, and it delivers excellent data and video images. It is very versatile in terms of network and LAN connections, and it is supported by an extensive array of software utilities. At $999, the M300XS represents a real value, and educators get an even lower price via school contracts and dealer programs. We are pleased to award the M300XS five stars for its performance and value.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our NEC NP-M300XS projector page.

Post a comment

 
Enter the numbers as they appear to the left