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NEC's VT45: Power-packed portable for under $2K

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NEC VT45 Projector NEC VT45
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300:1 Contrast Ratio
1000 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

If you haven't looked lately, you will be amazed at what you can get for under $2,000 these days. For starters you can get 1000 ANSI lumens SVGA machine in a portable 5.6 lb package. But believe it or not, you can also get full HDTV, 480p, and component video capability, the ability to display up to an SXGA signal, manual horizontal and vertical lens shift, monitor loop-through, on-board audio, and a remote control that doubles as a remote computer mouse at the click of a button. You can find it all in the NEC VT45.

NEC Technologies has emerged as one of the most innovative makers of digital projectors in the market today. The company offers a broad line of products, from 3 lb. mini-projectors to large venue high definition commercial theater systems. But though the breadth of the product line is noteworthy, it is NEC's tendency to push the limits of what is possible in digital projection that is truly impressive. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the release of the VT45.

Product overview

The VT45 has three 0.7" polysilicon LCD panels in native SVGA (800x600) format. The 135-watt NSH lamp produces up to 1000 ANSI lumens at a 300:1 contrast ratio. The lamp at full brightness is rated for 1000 hours of lamp life. However, two economy modes enable the user to reduce the lumen output to 800 lumens or 700 lumens in exchange for extending the lamp life to 1500 or 2000 hours respectively.

Lens. The VT45 has a manual zoom/focus lens with a zoom factor of 1.1x. So in practical terms, you can only adjust the image size up to 10% from minimum to maximum. That's enough to make a small adjustment to fit a screen, but major image size adjustments need to be accomplished by moving the projector. It throws a 60" diagonal image from a distance of about 8 feet, and a 100" diagonal image from about 12.5 feet.

However, the unique thing about the VT45's lens is that it can be moved horizontally or vertically, giving the user much greater flexibility in placing the image on the wall. To our knowledge, this is the first implementation of physical lens shift on a portable projector. As lens shift goes it is a rather coarse adjustment and you need to play with it a while to get the hang of what it can do for you. But once you get a feel for it, it gives you some additional flexibility for quick set up of the projector in new venues.

Compatibility. The VT45 takes all of the common HDTV formats (1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i) and component video, as well as standard composite and S-video. It even carries an FCC Class B certification (relatively rare in the world of commercial digital projectors), which makes it legal for sale as a residential/home theater device. As far as computer signals go, the VT45 takes SVGA native, and compresses both XGA and SXGA.

Connectivity. The connection panel is on the front of the unit next to the lens. The panel offers one S-video port, one composite RCA video jack, a computer audio mini jack, two audio RCAs for composite/S-video source audio input, one RGB (15-pin D-sub) input, one RGB (15-pin D-sub) output for monitor loop-through, and an 8-pin PC control port.

Image control. The VT45 has the most extensive set of controls for fine-tuning the image of any projector in its class. There are three different user-selectable gamma settings, full control of white balance, a variety of options for color temperature, and eight different video aspect ratio options for the display of standard 4:3, letterbox, and anamorphic DVD.

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