At a mere 187 cubic inches and 4.2 pounds, the MP1600 is the smallest and lightest XGA projector on the market today. It is also the cheapest model available, and the one with the least features. If you are looking for the least expensive genuine XGA projector, here is a bare-bones option.
Advantages: The MP1600 fits in a good-sized briefcase, with room left over for cables and hard copies of your presentation. This is the ultimate in portable units so far. If convenient portability is your exclusive concern, this is probably the product for you. And with an MSRP of $4,499 and a street price of around $4,300, it is the lowest priced native XGA projector available.
1. No video. The MP 1600 is the only one of the twenty XGA projectors for which video is not a standard feature. However, an external video adapter can be added for $249, bringing the weight of the projector up to about 5 lbs, the cubic inches up to 220, and the street price up to $4,500.
2. No zoom lens. All projectors in this group have zoom lenses except the MP1600 and the Davis DP-X16.
3. Minimum light output. At 600 ANSI lumens, the MP1600 significantly underperforms most other portable XGAs. Except for the InFocus LP330 (650 ANSI lumens) and its private label equivalents, all other models in this class are rated between 800 and 1200 ANSI lumens.
4. No audio. The MP 1600 is the only model among the twenty that does not have an on-board audio system.
5. 1000 hour lamp. Typical of most DLP units, the relatively short lamp life will add to the cost of ownership for those who need to put a lot of hours on the unit.
This projector is for those who (a) absolutely must have native XGA resolution, (b) do not want video or audio capability, and (c) need to pack a projector into a very small space. For anyone other than this, and in keeping with the budget consciousness that anyone must have to consider the MP 1600, we would strongly recommend the alternative of a compact native SVGA projector with excellent XGA scaling capability. Several units are worth a look.
For example, the Epson Powerlite 500c will soon be available for a street price of around $3,900, or $400 less than the MP1600. The Epson is a shade heavier (5.8 lbs) and a bit larger (247 cu. in.) However, in exchange for this minor inconvenience, you get 800 ANSI lumens to the MP1600's 600. You get video and on-board audio standard. And you get a zoom lens and a 2000 hour lamp life. All around, the Epson 500c would be judged by many to be a more versatile product for less money.
Furthermore, the Epson 500c is not the only option for good price/performance relative to the MP1600. The Sony VPL-CS1 is a cool $2000 less that the MP1600, with most of the features of the Epson. And the Mitsubishi S50, which will soon be on the market for around $3900 packs about double the light output of the MP1600, once again with all of the features of the Epson 500c.
Meanwhile, the native XGA resolution Epson 700c discussed elsewhere in this report will begin shipments on February 1. We expect it will sell on the Internet for around $4,600. So for only $300 more, you can get a native XGA resolution unit that will take up to UXGA, put out 800 ANSI lumens, give you a zoom lens, audio, video, and a 2000 hour lamp. A lot of extras for only $300 more!
In general, with so many good options available, it is difficult to justify spending $4,300 on a product with as limited a feature set as the Compaq MP1600. The price on this unit will have to drop by at least $500 to make it a viable contender in price/performance.