XGA Microportable DLP Projector
Last May we reviewed the LG HX300G, a microportable presentation projector with a number of unique and useful features. Now comes the LG HX350T, a successor unit that retains all of the useful features of the HX300G while adding some new ones including a TV tuner, increasing its crossover capability. With a retail price of $799, the HX350T has the potential to be a presenter's best friend--both on and off the job.
Microportables like the HX350T are designed for travel, whether that be on the road or in the skies. The projector has a minuscule footprint, with dimensions of only 2.4" height by 6.3" width by 5.3" depth. The projector itself weighs less than two pounds, while the entire assembled kit (power supply, cables, USB flash drive, remote control, and case) weighs less than five pounds--the weight of a traditional mobile presentation projector without any of its accoutrements. The included case is small and stylish (well, okay, as stylish as projector cases are likely to get), with enough padding to prevent damage from occasional rough handling or bumps.
The HX350T is perfect for someone giving Powerpoint presentations and doing a lot of travel by air. The small form factor and easy packability of the projector, plus its relatively high XGA resolution, make it a great choice for simple presentations. The USB port and onboard document reader eliminate the need for a computer. A 30,000-hour LED lamp reduces the need for maintenance. Even if you plan to use a projector that your client has on-site, the HX350T takes up so little weight and space that one might consider bringing it along as a back-up.
Light output. The HX350T is rated at 300 ANSI lumens maximum output, which is a small boost over the HX300G's 270 lumens. Our test sample measured 279 lumens in "Vivid" mode, the brightest available, producing enough light to easily support a 70" to 80" diagonal image in a light-controlled room or a 60" diagonal image with some ambient light. This screen size is just right for small group presentations--about the size of a large flat-screen television. Our preferred preset, though, was Cinema: it boosts color saturation and accuracy while reducing highlight blow-out and deepening black levels. Cinema mode measured 208 lumens. With darkened room lighting, Cinema mode can easily support photography or even video without obvious color bias or poor shadow differentiation.
Resolution. The HX350T has a native 1024x768 pixel matrix, which is a clear improvement over the usual 800x600 found in most other microportable projectors. Pixels appear smaller on the projected image, so curves and diagonal lines appear smoother. Photos look more natural when pixelation is less visible. Text can be made smaller without losing legibility, thereby allowing you to get more information on screen at any one time.
saturation is full and vibrant, especially in Cinema mode, which has the the best color balance out of the box--photographs look especially good in this mode. Contrast is solid, though using the projector with the lights on will reduce that considerably, especially with the unit's low brightness. As long as you are careful about where you use the HX350T, you can coax a beautiful picture out of it when needed. If you're just throwing a Powerpoint presentation on to the screen, though, you can be a little more cavalier with ambient lighting.
Lamp life. LEDs are wonderful things, in case you haven't noticed. The LEDs inside the HX350T are rated to last for 30,000 hours. That's 1,250 days of non-stop operation, though it's not recommended you try this at home. After all, it woult take you three and a half years to find out if you were right. So, really, throwing out a huge number like 30,000 hours is the manufacturer's way of telling you to forget about silly concerns like lamp life--something we can all support.
Connectivity. For such a small projector, the HX350T sure does have a lot of connection options. The back panel features composite video, VGA, HDMI, a USB port for onboard viewing of photos and documents, a 1/8" audio input, a headphone/external speaker jack, and a coaxial antenna port. That last connection can seem a bit mysterious until one realizes that the HX350T has an ATSC television tuner built in--just connect your antenna and you've got access to over-the-air HD, right there on the projector. And heck, with the 30,000 hour lamp life, you don't even have to feel bad about leaving it running if you fall asleep.
Onboard speakers. Dual 1W speakers might not sound like much, but having onboard stereo speakers is certainly better than not having them, no matter how small they are. With a projector like the HX350T, chances are you won't be presenting to a large audience in the first place, so the small speakers might be all you need. If something more substantial is required, there are plenty of battery-operated speakers out there that will take a 1/8" input from the HX350T's headphone jack.
FM Transmitter. Like the HX300G, the HX350T has an FM transmitter onboard, allowing you to send audio data to any system with an FM receiver built in. This may be a little harder to find in a corporate environment than in a home, but plenty of media rooms will still have a radio in there, somewhere. Keep in mind that the transmitter isn't very powerful, so you'll want to keep the HX350T as close to the receiver as possible, ideally within three meters. Farther than that and sound is definitely audible, but there's a noticeable crackle of interference.
Media player. One of our favorite features, the onboard media player can display Microsoft Office documents, photographs and other image files, and several types of video. This allows you to pack your presentation onto a USB drive and leave the laptop at the office, if you so choose. We did not notice any unusual bugs or quirks in the media player functions, though obviously we did not test every possible combination. Use common sense; be sure to test your documents on the HX350T before you take them to the client. Be especially careful when embedding movie files into Powerpoint slideshows and remember that links to the internet will not work since the projector has no internet connection or web browser.
Portability. When you combine the projector's small physical size and onboard projection features, it all adds up to a highly portable presentation powerhouse, packing a powerful punch. Alliteration aside, The HX350T's portability is not just a function of its small size; the onboard media player and USB drive compatibility go a long way in that regard. The FM transmitter can supply a more powerful set of speakers in any room with a radio. The long-life lamp means no worries about maintenance, so you won't need to pack along an extra lamp "just in case."
Audible noise. The HX350T is impressively quiet for a projector of its size and brightness. Sometimes, small projectors can put out an astounding amount of noise, generally due to having high-powered lamps crammed into small cases. The HX350T sounds more like a harsh whisper, if anything; the sound of the onboard speakers can easily cover any operating noise, and even without sound it is easy to speak and be heard over the sound of the projector.
Placement flexibility. The HX350T, like the HX300G, has a fixed-focal-length lens, meaning there's no adjustable zoom--the image size at a given distance is always the same. If you want to change the size of the picture, you have to do it by moving the projector forwards or backwards. The projector produces a 60" diagonal from about five and a half feet, for reference.
If the placement of the conference table in a room would make the projected image too large, you can always use a tripod - the HX350T has a screw mount for a tripod on the bottom of the case. Of course, carrying around a tripod adds weight to your otherwise lightweight projector setup. The HX350T is large enough to require a full-size tripod rather than one of the mini models used with pico projectors, and even a very lightweight tripod can exceed two pounds. For simple height adjustment, the HX350T has a front foot that screws in and out to raise and lower the front of the projector. You would then square the image by applying keystone correction. This foot is not of the quick-adjust variety, so you'll have to manually take it in and out as needed.
Power brick. The projector's small size and low fan noise are both due to the removal of some of the power supply, which is located instead in the power brick. This brick weighs a touch over a pound and fits neatly inside the projector's case, but it has a few unfortunate side effects. First of all, if you somehow forget the power cable, you cannot just stop into a store and pick up one of the handful of standard cables that seemingly every other projector on earth uses. Secondly, the included cable is rather short, which can be an issue when trying to adjust image size--the projector is so small that pulling the cable taut will jerk the projector around, making it hard to situate. The power brick design can make for a clumsy setup.
It also makes the weight specification slightly deceptive. The HX350T, spec'd as a 1.7-pound projector, cannot be operated without the 1.1-pound power brick. That means a minimum pack weight of 2.8 pounds--which comes awfully close to the weight of some much brighter portable XGA projectors. Now add cables and the case, and you're up around 5 lbs. If you add a tripod it's even more.
The LG HX350T is a convenient solution for those who frequently give presentations to small groups of people. Pack it up and stick it in your travel bag and you've got a mobile presentation suite that won't disappoint. The onboard document reader keeps weight down by obviating the need for a computer, while a 30,000 hour expected lamp life crosses "routine maintenance" off of your list of things to do. While 300 lumens might not sound like a lot, it's a perfect brightness for small group presentations.
At $799, the HX350T costs much more than some 2500 lumen, sub-5 lb. XGA projectors. However, most of them require a laptop computer to be carried along with them, and they have lamps that last only 3000 hours. If you need the light output, they are the better option, but if you don't, the HX350T is a worthy alternative.
Air travel isn't what it used to be. Full-body scanners, pat-downs, and baggage weight limits all provide ample reason to pack light. The HX350T is the ultralight version of a portable presentation projector, and everything you need fits in a five-pound package that's compact and easy to take along. If you need a portable presentation projector without the hassle, the LG HX350T should be the first thing on your list.