NEC M300X 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
$1,349 MSRP Discontinued

The NEC M300X is an outstanding, all purpose conference room and classroom projector that is surprisingly bright for its level of portability. Built around a 1024x768 LCD engine and rated at 3000 lumens, it offers a 1.7:1 zoom lens and, at 6.4 lbs, it is both small enough to fit into a shoulder bag and light enough so your shoulder won't complain from the weight. The combination makes it a highly attractive choice at $899 direct.

Advantages

Bright image with good brightness uniformity. We measured our M300X test sample at 2798 lumens with the lens at max wide angle. That's more than 93% of its rating, which is far better than most projectors can manage. It's easily bright enough to throw a 100-inch diagonal image that can stand up to typical office lighting. Moreover, the brightness doesn't drop much with different zoom settings. Even with the lens set to full telephoto, we measured the brightness at 2398 lumens, or 80% of the 3000 lumen rating. That's a better percentage of the rating than many projectors can manage at full zoom.

The projector also did well on brightness uniformity, at a measured 79%. Any differences in brightness are not only minor, they're far enough apart so that even on a solid white screen there aren't any noticeably dim or bright areas.

Wide brightness range. For smaller images and lower light levels, the M300X also offers a wide range of brightness levels to choose from. We measured the additional preset modes at levels ranging from 1350 to 2200 lumens. Even more significant are the two Eco modes, with Eco 1 in the brightest mode coming in at 2102 lumens (about a 23% drop) and Eco 2 at 1059 lumens (a 61% drop).

The Eco modes also lower power use, from a measured 218 watts for normal mode to 178 watts for Eco 1 and 129 watts for Eco 2. Fan noise, similarly, is noticeably lower in Eco 1 mode, and lower still for Eco 2. That said, I should add that fan noise isn't unusually loud in standard mode, and I wouldn't consider it bothersome. The main reason I noticed the difference in the different modes is that when I test a projector, I sit right next to it.

Near excellent image quality for data. Despite some minor issues, data image quality was just short of excellent overall, with vibrant, fully saturated color. I saw a slight color balance issue in the brightest mode, with bright shades of gray showing a yellowish tinge. However, it's not unusual for the brightest mode on projectors to have color issues. More important is that the same problem didn't crop up with the other preset modes.

Similarly, with an analog connection there was some slight pixel jitter on images that tend to cause jitter, but the key word is slight, and, of course, there's no jitter with a digital connection. Very much on the plus side, both black text on white and white text on black were easily readable down the smallest sizes we test with.

Surprisingly high quality video. For our video tests, we connected the M300X to a video source using the HDMI port, and set the source to upconvert to 1080p. The results were surprisingly good. Colors were a little dull due to a low contrast ratio and lack of deep, dark blacks. But the projector did a good job with skin tones and with maintaining shadow detail, even for scenes that most data projectors have trouble with.

You wouldn't want to install the M300X as a permanent home theater projector, but it offers good enough video quality that you might consider taking it home occasionally to watch a movie. It's certainly good enough to show video in a business or educational context.

Excellent connectivity. When it comes to making connections, the M300X is nothing if not flexible, with every connector you're ever likely to need. To begin with, it offers all of the usual choices for sending images to a data projector, including two VGA inputs for computers or component video sources, an S-Video port, and an RCA-phono plug for composite video. It also includes the HDMI port I've already mentioned for a video source or digital computer connection. The HDMI port by itself takes the M300X a step beyond typical for a data projector, particularly for one with only 1024 x 768 resolution. There's no DVI connector, but if you want to connect to a computer's DVI port, you can use a DVI to HDMI cable.

In addition, the projector offers an Ethernet port you can use for data or for controlling the projector, and it offers a USB Type B connector that will let you send images from a computer as well as control the computer mouse through the projector's remote. There's also a USB Type A connector to let you show JPG files directly from a USB key.

For audio, each of the VGA inputs is paired with its own stereo miniplug input, and the composite video and S-Video ports share a set of stereo RCA phono plug inputs. Finishing up the list is a stereo miniplug output, a VGA output for a monitor, and an RS-232 port for external control from a PC. NEC also sells a WiFi connection option for $80.

Easy setup. The M300X offers a number of useful features for making setup easier, including its 1.7:1 zoom, which gives you lots of flexibility in where you can put the projector for any given size image. There are also two extremely well thought out small touches that are worth mention because they're both rare and surprisingly helpful.

First, most of the connectors for computers and computer sources are along the top edge of the back panel, with the labels for each on the back of the top panel. If you're using the projector as a portable, that lets you look down from above and make connections easily when you're setting up each time.

The second touch is a set of clearly visible lines on the back panel around the connectors. The lines visually divide up the connectors into groups, making it easy to tell which audio port is paired with which image input, for example. Once again, these are small touches at most, but they make setup easier, and deserve to be widely copied.

Reasonably portable. The M300X is a little large to count as highly portable, but at 6.4 lbs it's light enough to throw into the soft carrying case it comes with, and take it with you at least occasionally.

Better than typical audio. The built-in sound system suffers from more than a little bottom-of-the-barrel hollow effect. However, spoken words that are hard to make out with most projectors in this size range are fully understandable, and the 10 watt speaker puts out enough volume for a small- to medium-size conference room. If you need stereo, higher quality, or more volume, the audio out minijack on the back panel makes it easy to connect to an external sound system.

Long lamp life with better than usual warranty. NEC rates the M300X lamp at an unusually long 5000 hours in standard mode, and 6000 hours in either Eco mode. At $299 for a replacement lamp, that represents a significant potential savings in running costs compared to the 2000 or 3000 hour lifetime for typical lamps. The company also covers the lamp under warranty for longer than most, at one full year or 500 hours, whichever comes first.

The projector itself comes with a 2-year warranty that includes one year of NEC's InstaCare service, which gives you the choice of asking for a next-business-day exchange or, if you prefer to repair the projector you already have, a five-business-day maximum from the day you ship it to the day you get it back. Whichever InstaCare choice you make, you pay for shipping to NEC, with NEC paying for the return. You can also extend InstaCare coverage to a total of 3 Years for $139.

Limitations

Slightly soft focus. Despite the high quality image, the M300X manages to suffer from a slight soft focus effect. I simply could not adjust the focus to give crisp, sharp edges across the entire screen at once. The setting I compromised on was sharp enough that it didn't hurt the readability of small text significantly, but most of the screen was obviously, if only slightly, in soft focus.

Carrying case doesn't offer much protection. The soft carrying case that comes with the M300X has the advantage of weighing almost nothing. However, it offers very little padding, which means it offers almost no real protection if you bump into something. You might consider it adequate for going from your office to your car and back, but if you plan to travel with it frequently, you'll need to invest in a case that will give you better protection.

Conclusion

The M300X offers a winning balance of brightness, image quality, audio quality, connectivity, portability, and price. The combination makes it a good fit for permanent installation in a small- to mid-size conference room or for carrying room to room in either a business or educational context. It also makes the projector a compelling choice if you need a portable projector that can throw a usably bright image no matter what lighting conditions you run into on the road. More than that, it's a good value for the price, making it a still more attractive choice no matter which of these applications you need it for.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our NEC NP-M300X projector page.

Comments (5) Post a Comment
Toine Posted Feb 21, 2011 12:49 PM PST
Hi, I'd like to buy a M300X projector but have a question about fan noise. M300X has three modes: normal, ECO1, and ECO2. But Nec gives only 2 fan noises: 34 db for normal and 29 db for ECO mode. Does it mean that the 2 ECO modes have the same fan noise ? Sounds weird to me... Regards
Toine Posted Feb 21, 2011 1:52 PM PST
Me again...

Looking at the owner's manual, I realized that this unit has a variable iris (this has been corrected in the specifications). Doest it mean that the contrast ratio drops to, say, 500:1 if iris is off? Do you have any idea about that?

I'm thinking about buying one of this pj in place of a epson705HD, mostly for watching movies. On paper, M260W is quieter, and has advanced color controls.

Toine
JOHN Posted Jul 7, 2011 1:15 AM PST
THIS MODEL HAS TWO TYPE ECO MODE , it means each of them has lower noise and also power usage.but i don't know for use HOME THEATER, is this model good for this purpose ?
Sterling Posted Sep 27, 2011 8:38 AM PST
To have to accept the compromise of a "slightly soft focus" because focus can not be set to be sharp in center and at edges of image simultaneously is more than a minor problem, in my opinion. I have tested two samples of this model, and saw the problem in both. Of course, the problem is a little less noticeable at shorter distance than at longer throw, but I could not find acceptable lens performance from 9ft to 15 ft distance.
Ruben pinto Posted Oct 10, 2013 10:28 AM PST
tengo tres vídeo beam M300X, al arrancar le suena algo dentro como que si se fuera a desarmar eso sera producto de ??? son tres y ambos les sucede lo mismo...

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