Brilens Technology LS1280
Laser/LED Hybrid Portable Projector
Color balance. Even with the controls available in User mode it is not possible to get a fully accurate color palette on the screen. So the LS1280 will not match the performance of projectors that have been designed with color accuracy as a primary objective. However, the human brain is extremely forgiving of color inaccuracies. If you do not have a calibrated reference monitor sitting nearby to tell you want the image is supposed to look like, the mind will interpret all but the more erroneous colors as reasonably accurate. With adjustments available in User mode, the picture can be rendered close enough to accurate so that most typical consumers can watch without being aware that the color is not what it would be on a tuned home theater projector.
Fan noise. The first thing you notice when firing up the LS1280 is fan noise, which is relatively loud, high in pitch, and variable based on changes in the internal operating temperature. The projector has a tendency to call attention to itself as the pitch and dB of the fan noise oscillate over time. This is nothing surprising for compact laser/LED hybrid projectors; they are all rather loud. But the LS1280 is one of the louder ones we've heard. We would not use this projector in a conference room for business presentation due to the fan noise. And unfortunately, the lower brightness options referred to as Image and Saving, (commonly called eco-modes on other products), do not reduce fan noise. It is possible that both fan noise and brightness are reduced when the unit is under battery power, but this is purely speculative on our part--we were not able to test this due to lack of a battery.
Preprogrammed Color Modes. The Dynamic, Standard and Movie color modes overdrive color saturation and sharpness, and are not well color balanced. No picture adjustments are available in these modes, so they are not recommended for use. This projector does its best after adjustments to sharpness, color balance and color saturation that are only available in User mode.
User interface. The LS1280 has a small remote with buttons identified by icons only--there are no English cues to identify their function. Many of the icons are a puzzle and it is hard to know what the buttons are for. The projector did not come with a manual, so we experimented with the remote to see what each button would do, and the projector did not respond to several of them. Moreover, the remote did not have a great range while it lasted--it was necessary to point the remote directly at the front of the unit to get a response. Eventually the remote failed during our testing, leaving us with the one alternative of controlling the projector via the buttons on the top case. These buttons are tiny with no backlighting, so impossible to see in the dark. They do have English identifiers (Power, Menu, Sourc, Quick) but a flashlight is required to see them. The Menu button is adjacent to the Power button, so it is easy to mistakenly turn off the projector while trying to access the menu. The directional menu navigation control is flimsy and the tactile feedback is poor. Overall, the user interface is extremely remedial.
Longer than average throw distance. If you want a 120" diagonal image on the wall, you need to set the LS1280 a distance of about 16 to 19.5 feet, which is longer than average for a small portable projector with a 1.2x zoom range. The throw ratio (throw distance divided by image width) is about 1.9 - 2.25. Most smaller portables with limited zoom ranges have shorter throw ratios more like 1.5, producing a bigger picture from a closer distance. This may be an advantage or a limitation in any given situation, but the restriction is worth noting.
Color and Tint functions reversed. On pretty much every projector and TV made, the "Color" slider controls color saturation--turning it to zero will (hopefully) turn the picture to black and white. Meanwhile the Tint control is used to adjust color balance along the magenta/green axis. On the LS1280 these functions are reversed, which can create a lot of confusion. The Color slider adjusts tint, and the Tint control adjusts saturation. This is not a big issue once you realize what's going on, but clearly something got lost in translation here.
Remote control battery not included. We have never seen a $1000 projector come without a battery for the remote. To make this a little extra annoying, the remote requires the relatively rare dime-shaped battery (Duracell DL2016) that you are not likely to have sitting around with your stash of double A's. So a trip to the store will likely be required to get the remote in operation.
Price. At the date of this review the price on Amazon is $999 (see current Amazon price). This is relatively steep for a 1280x800 projector that falls so far short of its lumen spec. The major advantage, in theory, is the advertised 50,000 hour light source (more likely 20,000), which in either case eliminates the need for replacement lamps. You pay a premium for this up front. Whether this is a benefit to you will depend on the number of hours you plan to use the projector (see more discussion below).