Recommended Home Theater Projectors
NEC MultiSync LT150
NEC has come on strong in video performance in several of its recent offerings. One of the many unique products from NEC that delivers amazing video quality is the MultiSync LT150, the remarkable little 3- pound unit that began shipping last fall.
The strengths of the LT150 include an XGA-resolution DLP light engine that is pixel- free and very high 800:1 contrast. The 800 ANSI lumen rating is not exceptional but very adequate for home theater given the unusually high contrast ratio.
But most remarkably, although DLPs are not known for delivering great color, NEC has been able to get some of the best color performance out of DLP that we've seen yet. A variety of controls exist for red, blue, and green adjustments, gamma, and color temperature that are unique among DLPs in this price range.
The LT150 features full HDTV and EDTV compatibility, but it does not have DVI as does the InFocus LP350 which is priced a bit less. The use of progressive scan DVD players for your DVDs is strongly encouraged.
There is a fixed lens which is a modest wide angle, enabling it to throw a 100" diagonal image from a distance of 11 feet. The lack of a zoom lens means that you need to ceiling mount this unit precisely in relation to your screen--there is no zoom compensation for errors.
As with the other NEC portables, the LT150's connectivity is minimal. You have only one RGB port through which to feed HDTV, a component DVD player, and any line-doubled NTSC that you might have. Fan noise is low to moderate, meaning noticeable but not unusually objectionable.
As noted above, the LT150 is a 3-pound projector, obviously designed for the mobile presentation market. A question everyone will ask is whether they are paying for portability that they don't need rather than the image quality they want. The answer is that, except for the lumen output which is lower than ideal, there is no compromise on image quality at all. When you combine DLP smoothness and contrast with the color dynamics of LCD as NEC has done in this unit, you get a phenomenal picture.
The LT150 sells for under $5,000 on the street these days. To make it an ideal home theater solution at this price we'd like to see it have one less CompactFlash reader, and one more component or RGB port, a bit less audible noise, and higher light output. With these limitations it was a difficult call as to whether to place the LT150 in the "recommended" or "highly recommended" categories.
But ultimately, image quality is what everyone wants. And the LT150 can be relied upon to produce a truly magnificent video image. Overall, what NEC has done in the area of color control with this DLP is impressive. NEC has moved DLP closer to LCD in color quality, just as Sanyo has moved LCD closer to the best DLPs in contrast and pixelation. For those willing to budget up to $5,000, we are pleased to give the LT150 our highest recommendation, subject only to the caution that those who plan to use multiple sources (HDTV, component DVD player, line-doubled NTSC) will need to switch them externally.