The Sharp Notevision PG-B10S projector was designed for budget conscience classroom and conference needs. A quick look at the basics shows it's SVGA (800 x 600 pixels), 1200 ANSI lumens, 35 dB audible noise, 350:1 contrast ratio, and 6 pounds (2.7 kg) making it light enough to travel.
With a suggested retail price is $1,399 and a street price of $999, this is more than just another projector breaking the $1000 price barrier. Nice performance and functionality, and a very unique feature makes the Sharp Notevision PG-B10S projector stand out among the other low cost, lightweight, SVGA projectors we've seen.
When we opened the carton and removed the projector, we noticed something unusual. Attached to the projector lens was a protective ring with the following message attached:
CAUTION: DO NOT THROW THIS LENS SHIPPING BLOCK AWAY.
Heed this advice. This "lens shipping block" protects a very nice feature of the Sharp Notevision PG-B10S - Variable Lens Shift! While lens shift is not new, it is unusual in a low cost projector and it's implementation is rather unique.
Now if lens shift is about as familiar to you as quarks and you're wondering why you should care about it, allow me to expound. If you walk into a room with a projector, set it up, turn it on, and notice the image is not rectangular, you have a problem known as keystoning. This problem emerges whenever the projector is not perpendicular to the projection surface. Turn it left, turn it right, tip it up or down and that trapezoidal image you see is keystoning.
Lens shift can fix this problem. Lens shift allows a physical adjustment of the projection lens to optically correct image keystoning, in other words, make it rectangular. In the case of the Sharp Notevision PG-B10S projector this is done with a small joystick located on the front of the projector just right of the lens (see photo). It has an adjustment range of 50% of the height and 30% of the width of the image through a full 360 degrees.
If you're acquainted with keystone problems, you might ask, why not use digital keystone correction. This is a feature that is available on just about every projector that ships today, including the Sharp B10S, and it does "square" the image, if the projector is slightly askew.
Yes, but beware! Digital keystone correction has a couple of unwanted side effects. First, it squares the image by shrinking the long side of the image using digital scaling. This means information is removed and the result is that scaling artifacts become evident in the image. For example, text will be a little fuzzy in the scaled area of the image. Second, it causes some loss of lumen output because the scaled image is smaller than the native resolution of the display.
So, if you're moving a projector from room to room or across the country, or you have room constraints in a fixed installation, Sharp's PG-B10S variable lens shift is a very nice solution.
What's in the Box
The Sharp PG-B10S projector includes a soft carrying case for easy transport on the road, building-to-building, or room-to-room. The case has a padded insert that helps protect the projector and just enough space for the RGB cable, power cable, and the infrared remote control. Packing these necessities adds 2 pounds bringing the total carrying weight to 8 pounds (3.5 kg).
The projector uses a universal power supply and one of 4 power cables is provided depending on your region. If you're an international traveler, all you need is the appropriate power cable for your destination.
Aside from the RGB cable, no other cables are provided, although the projector does support audio and video sources such as component, composite and S-video. Other items include a lens cap, extra air filter, the lens shipping block mentioned above, Quick Guide, Operation Manual, and CD-ROM with the manual and technical reference data.
The B10S projector includes an RGB input and output for either computer or component video. The component video connection supports analog 480i, 480p, 540p, 580i, 580p, 1035i, 1080i and 720p. Connectors for composite video and S-Video are also provided. An audio input accepts a mini-stereo or mono jack and an RS-232C serial connector allows computer control and status monitoring of the projector.
|Sharp Notevision PG-B10S Connector Panel|
Remote Control Functionality
The remote control has a range of up to 23 feet to a single IR receiver in the front of the projector and operates well whether pointed directly at the front of the projector or bounced off the screen.
The layout of the remote is clean, simple, and easy to operate. Menu control and navigation is achieved with your thumb whether you're right of left-handed. The remote is not backlit; however, the key tops do glow in the dark for awhile after exposure to room light.
Function keys are provided for digital keystone correction of angles up to 35 degrees. As mentioned earlier, keystone correction is nice to have, but should be used sparingly on any projector in a data environment. Distortion due to keystone correction is almost unnoticeable in video and only slightly evident in large text and graphics, but can be annoying when viewing smaller text and data. The larger the keystone correction the greater the character distortion becomes.
Three Input keys are provided to directly select RGB/component, composite or S-video making source switching a one click operation.
Two image magnification keys, referred to as Enlarge, are provided to digitally zoom up and down from 1x to 64x. Four directional keys allow panning of the magnified image. The scaled images are very good and the panning works well.
Another nicely implemented feature is Resize. When you are viewing a source, you have several options on how the image is viewed. Depending on the signal source, pressing the Resize button allows you to select up to 4 viewing modes including:
- Normal - the full image in its native aspect ratio
- Dot by Dot - native resolution of the image without scaling
- Border - image is sized to 4:3 aspect ratio with a border
- Stretch - image is sized to 16:9 aspect ratio with equal borders top & bottom
In data mode this gives you the ability to show, for example, an XGA (1024 x 768) image compressed to SVGA or show it in native XGA and use the remote control to slide the image around to viewing the missing parts of the image.
An Undo key is provided to restore normal conditions when using Resize, digital Keystone correction, or Enlarge.
Other remote buttons include Volume control for the 1 watt speaker, AV Mute to blank the screen, and image Freeze.
|Sharp Notevision PG-B10S with Remote|
Sharp has done an excellent job of producing a quality image at an economy price. The B10S includes the usual controls for adjusting color balance, contrast, and brightness. More importantly it also includes the ability to select from one of six color temperatures. Color temperature controls the warmth of the image. Lower color temperatures give a warmer image and higher color temperatures give a cooler, brighter image. Color temperature tends to be a very personal setting, but generally speaking video is best at lower color temperatures and data at higher color temperatures.
Another feature not usually found in low-end products is gamma settings. The B10S projector provides four gamma settings, referred to by Sharp as Standard, Presentation, Cinema, and Game. A gamma setting affects the darker portions of an image and helps bring out detail in dark scenes especially in well-lit rooms. The changes are very subtle. The higher the contrast of the projector, the greater the impact gamma correction will have.
If a projector provides a good color balance and avoids the tendency to achieve brightness by pumping more green into the image, then color temperature and gamma correction are about the only things you might adjust to your preference. To this end, Sharp did an excellent job.
For those needing remote mouse control for presentation, Sharp reminded us that although it is not included with the B10S projector, it is available as an add-on (part number AN-MR1EL). It consists of a Remote IR Receiver that attaches to your computer's USB port and is controlled by the Forward and Back keys on the remote control. The accessory is available from Sharp for $109.
And finally, if you're concerned about these highly mobile projectors getting mobile without proper authorization, the B10S offers a Kensington Lock option that allows you to physically attach the projector to an object such as a desk or table using a cable. If this is not a practical solution for you, Sharp also offers an anti-theft option that once enabled prevents the projector from displaying any images until the proper keycode is entered. This is a hidden deterrent as a thief must be aware that the projector is useless without the keycode in order to discourage the theft.
Rated at 1200 ANSI lumens the projector is bright enough for most classrooms and conference rooms with some light in the room. In a dark room you should be able to comfortably view a 140 inch (355 cm)width image at 40 feet (12.18 m). If want or have light in the room, you need to increase the brightness of the image by reducing its size and shortening the distance to the last row of seats. At the proper brightness you can have your last row of seats at 4.5 times the screen width. Competing light on the projection screen is the biggest enemy of projectors.
Using the lamp in economy mode or Eco Mode, as it is commonly referred to in the industry, will save you money by doubling the lamp life to 4000 hours, reducing the lamp brightness 10% to 1080 ANSI lumens, reducing the audible noise to 32 dB, and reducing the power consumption from 185 watts to 170 watts. If you do not have competing room light you may find Eco Mode very suitable.
The "screen door" effect that is evident on SVGA projectors, was noticeably diminished on the Sharp B10S and is barely evident at 1.5 times the screen width, which would likely be the position of those nearest the screen.
XGA (1024 x 768) resolution projectors offer sharper images than SVGA (800 x 600) projectors, but at higher prices. If you have a lot of detail content that you're showing, XGA is a good choice, but for most presentation needs SVGA is all you need.
With today's projectors it is possible to have too many lumens for a given venue; however, you can never get too much contrast. At 350:1 contrast the B10S projector lacks the image depth of higher contrast projectors, but manages to deliver quality data and video images. The ability to control gamma and color temperature helped achieve better than expected results.
Another setting that is becoming more common on projectors is sRGB. sRGB stands for screen red, green, blue. Its purpose is to try to render the same image regardless of where it is viewed whether on a montior, projector, or a printer. While this may be the goal, we find sRGB generally not on our selection of choice.
With a street price of $999 the Sharp Notevision PG-B10S projector is a significant value. It offers ample lumens, pleasing video and quality data. The zoom lens and variable lens shift are must haves and love to haves for any projector that moves. Among projectors in the 6 pound or less class, there is no comparable projector with similar features.
If video is your primary concern, you will find higher contrast and higher resolution projectors provide measurably more performance at correspondingly higher prices. If you need a dual-purpose low cost product, it's hard to improve on the B10S. If you're looking to minimize your investment and maximize your value, the Sharp Notevision PG-B10S is hard to beat.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Sharp PG-B10S projector page.