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The Twenty Smallest Portable SVGA Projectors

Sony VPL-CS1

The VPL-CS1, scheduled to ship this month, is among the strongest competitors in the category, and with a street price of $2,699 it is the most aggressively priced. It is a fully featured machine, and what it offers in terms of price/performance will force many of its competitors to re-evaluate their pricing.

The CS1 is rated at 600 ANSI lumens, 6.4 lbs, and has a compact form factor of only 255 cubic inches, making it among the smallest of the SVGAs on the market. The only other units in its size range are the Epson 500c at 247 cu. in., and the Plus U2-870 (aka NEC Multisync LT84), which is also at 255.

Each of these super-small projectors has a manual zoom lens, but the Sony has a 1.3:1 zoom, while the Epson and the Plus/NEC zooms are only 1.2:1. The ability to resize the image by a factor of 30% rather than 20% gives the Sony an edge in convenience.

Fourteen of the twenty products in this review are clustered in the 500 to 700 ANSI lumen range, and at 600 ANSI lumens, the CS1 is average for the group. It is in the combined factors of size, weight, and price that the CS1 outperforms the fourteen units in its brightness range.

The strongest competitive challenge to the CS1 will come from units with a much higher brightness rating, in particular the Mitsubishi S50 at 1100 lumens, and the Toshiba TLP-450 at 1000 lumens. With some price cutting, the InFocus 425z and its private-label equivalents, all rated at 900 lumens, may remain viable contenders as well.

Sony has produced a product that has all the features a mobile presenter would want, with the exception of a high ANSI lumen output. However, considering its highly competitive street price of $2,699, the CS1 is an outstanding value in today's market. Until competing units in the 500 to 700 ANSI lumen range see street price reductions of 15 to 20 percent, the Sony VPL-CS1 will have a commanding lead in the budget-conscious segment of the mobile presenter market.