NEC VT46: High Performance, Low Price
This week NEC is releasing the VT46, a powerful portable with an estimated street price of just $995. The VT46 is NEC's competitive response to the recently released Epson S1. We will do a feature comparison of these two units at the end of this review.
The VT46 is an SVGA resolution (800x600) projector with three 0.7" LCD panels at the core of its light engine. It is rated at 1200 ANSI lumens and 400:1 contrast. The unit is a very portable 6.6 lbs., and is about one foot wide, 10" deep, and 3.5" tall.
The VT46 is compatible with computer signals up to UXGA, and video formats including HDTV 1080i and 720p, as well as 480p and 480i.
The connection panel offers one 15-pin VGA connector for computer and HDTV signals, one S-video port, one composite video jack, two pairs of audio inputs for the video and S-video inputs, and a stereo mini jack for computer audio. There is also a DIN 8-pin port for PC control.
The lens is manual zoom and focus with a 1.2x zoom range. Throw distance is relatively short. A 100" 4:3 diagonal image can be produced from a distance of between 10 and 12 feet.
Vertical digital keystone delivers a wide +/- 30 degrees adjustment. The rescaling looks great on PowerPoint type presentations and graphics, and actually pretty good on textual subject matter too. (You never expect detailed text to look too clean when rescaled).
Overall the VT46 is a very solid, impressive product. Coming out of the box it looks and feels like a substantial projector with superb workmanship. It's hard to believe it is only $995.
Once you power it on, the image does not disappoint. The VT46 puts out a bright, very sharp image computer image with exceptionally even brightness uniformity-no distracting hotspots! Contrast is more than ample for presentation use, and sufficient if not ideal for very pleasing video.
Though it is SVGA resolution, pixelation is reduced compared to previous generations of LCD products, so the screendoor effect is not as big an issue as it once was.
On many NEC products there is an eco-mode that reduces fan noise, cuts light output, and extends lamp life. There is no eco-mode on the VT46, but it is not needed. Fan noise is already amazingly low, especially for a 1200 lumen projector-it simply doesn't need to be any quieter. And as far as extending lamp life goes, this unit has been designed to deliver a standard lamp life of 3000 hours. That's a lot more than competitive units in its class--enough lamp time to let you deliver a 2-hour presentation or watch a 2-hour movie five days a week, every week, for almost six years.
The video capability on the VT46 is surprisingly good. If you want it to double as a part-time home entertainment machine, you can certainly use it that way. First time home theater buyers on a small budget may wish to use it as their starter system. You will get the best video image out of it by not stretching it too far. If you use a high contrast screen material and limit your image size to about 80" diagonal, the VT46 will deliver a very engaging image with plenty of brightness and contrast. NEC has included an aspect ratio control button on the remote so you can easily format various video and film sources for proper viewing.
There are a variety of precalibrated settings for presentation, graphics, movies, and video, so you can easily switch from one to the other to get maximum snap for a presentation, or best color and flesh tones for films and video.
All things considered, NEC's VT46 is a lot of projector for $995. For part time business use and part-time home entertainment, this is a solid product that is a pleasure to highlight and recommend.
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