For those who travel light, choosing a projector is an act of compromise. Trading lumen output for light weight and low fan noise while maintaining a reasonable price is a balancing act, and finding a projector to fit all your needs is not always simple. With the release of the appropriately named TraveLight2 by Boxlight, things just got a little easier. This little XGA projector packs 2100 ANSI lumens into a 2.5 pound package that is surprisingly quiet. What's more, this portable powerhouse can be yours for current street prices of around $1500.
ANSI lumens: 2100
Contrast (full on/off): 2000:1
Light Engine: 1024x768 (XGA), native 4:3 0.7" DLP chip, 156W VIP lamp.
Video Compatibility: HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p. NTSC/PAL/SECAM.
Data Compatibility: Computer resolutions up to SXGA (1280x1024).
Connection Panel: One DVI-I port, one combo composite/s-video minijack, one mini-USB port, one 1/8" audio-in port, Kensington lock point.
Lens and Throw Distance: 1.16:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 12' to 13.9', or a 60" diagonal image from 7.2 to 8.3'.
Lamp Life: 4000 hours, 5000 hours in eco-mode.
Warranty: Two years, 120 days/500 hours for lamp.
The TraveLight2 comes within a half pound of the lightest XGA projector on the market as well. Projectors that weigh twice as much as the TraveLight2 are still considered portable. At 2.5lbs, its weight is almost trivial.
The connection panel is simplicity itself. Boxlight has combined composite and s-video into one small jack, and as such the connection panel's only full-sized port is DVI. A VGA to DVI conversion cable is included in the box, as are composite to minijack, s-video to minijack, and USB to miniUSB for computer control.
The TraveLight2 has a fixed throw offset of 17% of the image height. So, for a 60" diagonal image, the bottom edge of the picture will be projected 10.2" above the centerline of the lens. This is helpful for low conference tables, since screens are often mounted higher than the table's surface. If your situation requires that the picture be displayed higher up on the wall, you will need to tilt the projector and apply keystone correction.
Vertical keystone correction is manually adjusted up to 15 degrees in either direction. As with many projectors, applying keystone causes text to appear bolded. While this is not likely to cause problems with legibility, it may pose a problem when combined with other factors such as scaling of non-native signals.
The remote control feels large for a projector of this size, but with that size comes functionality. The power on/off button is top dead center. Below that are controls for your computer when connected via USB, including arrow keys, enter/return, and page up/page down. Below these are menu controls as well as keystone and volume adjustments. At the bottom lies a grid of buttons for advanced functions such as a display of the projector's status, mute, source selection, blank screen, freeze-frame, and digital zoom. To top it all off, there is a laser pointer which is activated via a large red button at the top right of the remote. The bottom grid of buttons can get confusing, but they are labeled clearly and the learning curve is not steep.
The menu system is laid out in categories, with tabs at the top of the screen for different adjustments. There are no preset image modes, which means more time spent in the menu system when changing applications or presentation environments. There is an unusually comprehensive "User Color" control, which has adjustments for red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow. There are also adjustments for gamma and color temperature. The menu system is fairly complex for a portable projector, and adjusting the image to your liking is fairly simple -- it just can't be done in one button press.
Despite its small size and bright lamp, the TraveLight2 is a relatively quiet projector. By no means is it as quiet as a home theater projector, but it is low in audible noise compared to other business models in the same class. Part of this is due to the low, steady pitch of the fan noise. If the projector is more than two feet away from your audience, audible noise should not be a cause for concern.
The lamp has a lifespan of 4000 to 5000 hours, and replacement lamps cost $399. This makes the cost per hour of operation somewhere between 10 and 8 cents, assuming that the lamp maintains integrity for the full stated life. The projector's warranty includes a 120 day or 500 hour lamp warranty, to help ease the worries of an early lamp blowout.
Low lamp mode brought about a 15% drop in lumen output, to 1168 ANSI. If you are projecting in a small room, or have no ambient light to combat, that may still be too bright. In this case, reducing white peaking will bring down lumen output further. The minimum reading obtained from our test sample was 400 ANSI lumens in low lamp mode with white peaking turned off. Between white peaking adjustment and lamp control, the lumen output of the TraveLight2 is highly adjustable and can be set almost anywhere between 400 and 1400 lumens.
Black level is acceptable for light photography use, and low lamp mode yields a better black level than high lamp mode by a fair margin. Black level is more than acceptable for data graphics or charts. Text documents and PowerPoint slideshows appear bright and dynamic at any setting, though excessive white peaking can reduce shadow detail in complex graphics.
There were some quirks with regards to edge-to-edge sharpness. While most of the projected image was in perfect focus at any given time, about 10% of the image towards the top right corner was softer than the rest of the image. Those looking for a projector to display items that demand the utmost in image sharpness, such as complex engineering diagrams or densely-packed spreadsheets, may wish to look elsewhere. For text documents, graphics, and PowerPoint slideshows, however, there was no significant loss in image sharpness. Font sizes of 10pt and greater were easily legible.
Scaling of higher-resolution computer signals, in and of itself, is clean. While some compression artifacts are unavoidable, the TraveLight2 does a fair job of keeping text legible and images sharp. Applying keystone correction will exascerbate scaling artifacts, though, and as always the best results will be obtained when sending the projector a native XGA signal.
The Boxlight TraveLight2 is a presenter's projector, through and through. It has enough light for any screen up to 100" and beyond as well as an exceptionally long lamp life, but edge-to-edge sharpness is not perfect. Those wishing to display complex technical documents and spreadsheets will probably not find what they are looking for in this projector. However, if what you need is a bright, super-portable projector for PowerPoint slideshows and data graphics, the TraveLight2 is a great match for you.