The new HX300G from LG is a microportable projector, perhaps better known as a "pocket" projector in some circles. It is larger than pico projectors, which have their own internal battery and (usually) abysmal light output, but it is much smaller than the typical five-pound portable XGA projector, too. Projectors in this in-between category have existed for quite some time, but the HX300G has some features that are sure to pique more interest.
The HX300G is the perfect companion to the presenter on the go. It weighs only 1.7 pounds, less than many netbook computers. It measures only 2.4" x 6.3" x 5.3", small enough to put in a briefcase. It produces 300 lumens of brightness in its brightest mode and has 2000:1 contrast. The native resolution is XGA, not SVGA like many other microportables. The HX300G has an onboard HDMI port for high-quality digital video, a 30,000-hour LED lamp, and an FM transmitter, allowing you to broadcast your audio to any sound system with an FM radio tuner.
With all of these features and a great data picture, the HX300G has an MSRP of $799. At this price range, there are several projectors available which are much brighter than the HX300G, though they lack some of its advanced features. However, if you need the HX300G's specific combination of portability and features, it is still a solid value.
Light output. The HX300G is one of the brightest microportables available, at 300 lumens theoretical potential. Our test unit measured 248 lumens maximum, using "Vivid" mode with the lamp set to "Presentation." This is enough for a 60" diagonal 4:3 image in a darkened viewing area, or a 40" to 50" diagonal image in a room with some ambient light--provided you're not too worried about contrast. For Powerpoint and other easy-to-read material, this screen size should work well for small group presentations.
The HX300G uses a three-setting lamp, with the settings labeled "Presentation," "Normal," and "Low." Normal mode reduced lumen output by 11% in all image modes, while Low mode reduced lumen output by 25%.
While Vivid mode is the brightest and best suited for simple material like text documents and some Powerpoint presentations, it is also noticeably overblown in certain highlights and does not optimize color saturation. For the best possible color, the HX300G's Cinema mode has better saturation and contrast than Vivid. Cinema also pushes color temperature towards the red, so purists may want to spend some time in the menu system and make some adjustments. Cinema mode measured 184 lumens with the lamp at full power. Photographs and data graphics will look good in this mode, especially if you can dim the lights.
Resolution. The HX300G has a native resolution of 1024x768, or XGA. Most other microportable projectors are SVGA, or 800x600. As XGA represents half again as many pixels as SVGA, the HX300G can be used for more complex and detailed documents, such as spreadsheets or text documents with small typefaces. If you are displaying photography or other graphics, XGA has a clear advantage over SVGA due to increased pixel density. Diagonal lines appear smoother, pixels appear smaller, and gradients appear more natural. It will also appear to have less screen-door effect than comparable SVGA projectors.
Image quality. Beyond features and convenience, a great data projector needs to deliver a great picture. The HX300G does this in spades. Brightness uniformity is such that there are no obvious bright or dim areas of the image, which reduces distraction when viewing plain text documents. There is no noticeable screen door effect, even when sitting very close to the screen; in fact, it can be hard to see the inter-pixel gap at all. In Cinema mode, colors jump off the screen (photography and data graphics are best viewed in this mode). While it lacks the brightness of larger projectors, the HX300G does not suffer in terms of image quality - unless you turn the lights on, of course.
Lamp life. The LED light source is rated at 30,000 hours of life. That's 8 hours of presentation time every day, five days a week, for about 15 years. In practical terms, the light source will long outlive the projector.
Connectivity. For such a small projector, the HX300G has an impressive array of connections. The most notable is the HDMI port, allowing the use of high-quality digital video with no fuss. There's also a standard VGA port for laptop and desktop computers. Composite video and 1/8" audio in and out round out the connection panel. Finally, the projector has a USB port, used for the display of files from USB memory devices.
Onboard speakers. The HX300G has a pair of 1W speakers, giving it true stereo sound. The maximum volume is, as one might expect, rather lackluster, but for small audiences of 5-10 people in a quiet room it will perform well enough. Using maximum volume can cause distortion, but around 70-80% volume the fidelity is maintained.
FM Transmitter. The HX300G has a unique FM radio transmitter, allowing you to "broadcast" sound to any external system with an FM receiver. Range is quite short, and you'll get a lot of static if the receiver's FM antenna is more than about three meters distant, but this is a novel feature that has the potential to revolutionize portable and presentation projectors. If possible, it is still preferable to use a hard-wired connection by running a 1/8" audio cable between the projector/signal source and the external speakers. In cases where this is not possible, though, having the FM transmitter as a backup option is appreciated.
Media player. It is becoming more common to see small projectors with the ability to display video, photo, and data documents from USB flash media without the aid of a computer. In essence, the projector itself becomes the signal source, requiring nothing but a power connection. The HX300G has such a media player onboard. We tested the projector with several file types, including common Microsoft Office documents (that's right, it can display Powerpoint presentations), and the projector was able to display everything we threw at it without a single hitch. Photo slideshows are slower than they would be on a computer, due to the processing power required to load and display large image files, but otherwise we did not encounter any problems. If you are a traveling businessperson who needs to display either image files or Microsoft Office documents, the HX300G will let you do it without a computer at all. That can drastically reduce the amount of gear you have to haul around with you.
Portability. The HX300G is built for mobile presentation, with a compact, lightweight form factor. The case measures a scant 2.4" x 6.3" x 5.3" and the projector itself weighs only 1.7 pounds, not including the power brick. With onboard media player functionality and an included carrying case, in many cases you can simply load your presentation materials on to a USB flash drive and skip the computer entirely.
Audible noise. The HX300G is very quiet despite its relatively high lumen output. At full power, fan noise is audible, but can be easily spoken over without requiring that you raise your voice. Using the reduced power modes correspondingly reduces audible noise, with Low lamp mode dropping audible noise to near imperceptibility.
Placement flexibility. Since it has a fixed-focus lens, the projected image size is determined solely by the placement of the projector. The diagonal of the projected image will be roughly 90% of the throw distance - so, for a 60" diagonal 4:3 picture, you will need to place the projector 5' 6" away. The HX300G has an adjustable front foot, which can be used to raise or lower the projector. However, the front foot does not have a quick-adjust tab, meaning you'll have to twist it repeatedly to adjust the height. When you are traveling and trying to get set up as quickly as possible, this might slow you down a bit.
Perhaps the best, fastest way to mount the projector is to use the tripod mount. The HX300G has a standard tripod screw-hole in the bottom, allowing it to be used with any number of lightweight, portable tripods. This gives the presenter the maximum amount of adjustability and control over projector placement and image size, but it does require that you carry a tripod along with the projector. A mini-tripod, some of which are small enough to fit in a pocket, is a good option in this case.
Power brick. The HX300G is advertised as a 1.7-pound projector, which is technically true. On our scale, we measured exactly 1.68 pounds. However, what the marketing literature doesn't mention is that the HX300G requires a sizable power brick in order to function. This brick weighs 1.6 pounds according to our scale, giving the package a total weight of 3.28 pounds. if you include the carrying case, remote control, and a small VGA cable, the whole package ends up weighing about 4.5 pounds in total.
This is not unusual. Every projector requires some ancillary equipment in order to operate, even if that's just a power cable. All told, the HX300G's complete package still weighs less than comparable equipment for a four-pound presentation projector. Nevertheless, the buyer should not be misled by the 1.7 lb weight spec, since that number does not include the weight of the power supply.
The LG HX300G is a rock-solid, highly capable microportable presentation projector. Up to 300 lumens and a bevy of useful features make it a great choice for anyone presenting in front of small groups. The HX300G presents a stepping stone between pocket-sized pico projectors and the much brighter four-pound portables, and it contains some of the best features of both. Its relatively high resolution makes it a great choice for presentations involving complex, detailed documents. The on-board media and document viewer allows you to go completely PC-free, should you choose to do so, and likewise reduces setup time. The FM transmitter, while a little buggy, is a hassle-free way to hook your small projector into big sound.
It is not without its limitations. Placement flexibility is almost nil without the addition of a tripod, and the weight of the projector plus all the accessories you'd need is almost three times the weight of the projector itself. However, it is still a very light, fully-featured presentation machine, and it is a great choice if you present to small groups and you want easy portability.
With an MSRP of $799, the HX300G costs more than several other XGA projectors under four pounds. It lacks the brightness of these other projectors as well; many of them are rated at more than 2,000 lumens, but their high pressure lamps have much lower anticipated life spans. What it brings to the table, specifically, is extreme portability and computer-free projection. The HX300G is the only projector in this category that gives you a full presentation suite, computer-free, at less than five pounds, including accessories. If that's what you need, the HX300G is the projector for you.