Best business projector: 10 top data projectors for every budget
12th Dec 2013 | 15:43
Let us help you choose the best projector for your business presentations
There was a time when projectors designed for corporate environments were all huge – and virtually immovable. And while permanent installation projectors continue to be built (we've included a few in this list), there's a definite trend towards the tiny.
Projector makers are creating ever-smaller, brighter and more versatile beamers. It's recognition that more presentations are given not in boardrooms, but by road warriors and mobile workers in unpredictable environments.
Projectors are getting smarter, too. They now include everything from Wi-Fi connectivity and iPad mirroring to digital file playback, built-in storage and media playback software that plays nicely with presentation-friendly file types. Support for Microsoft Office formats, like PowerPoint, plus PDFs and JPEG photos is now near-universal. Who even needs a laptop?
As lamp life, as well as portability, becomes important, the industry has moved en masse to LED engines, which find their killer app in Pico projectors. However, these tiny models remain something of a gamble. Small and easy to carry they might be, but what they give in terms of portability these pocket-sized projectors often take in brightness and resolution. After all, where's the benefit of a small projector if the presentation it produces makes you look unprepared?
Choose your projector wisely and remember that resolution is less important then brightness (measured in Lumens) if you're likely to want to project in brightly-lit rooms during the day.
1. Philips PicoPix PPX2055
It weighs just 114g, measures a mere 72 x 72 x 27 mm, and easily fits into a jacket pocket for instant on-the-go presentations – and it's completely powered by a USB cable attached to a laptop.
Its resolution is just 854x480 pixels – not even HD quality – and it's bright enough only for 50-inch images, but this is the most wallet- and travel-friendly design out there. Setting-up the PicoPix PPX2055 is no more complicated than choosing a shortcut on the desktop of a laptop, and hitting OK on the first and only set-up screen.
Picture quality isn't akin to a home cinema of any kind – it's neither bright nor nuanced enough. But it's certainly good enough for basic presentations. The only drawback is that it doesn't work with Apple laptops.
Verdict: A mini pocket projector that's bright enough for 50-inch presentations.
2. Acer Pico C120
It's not the best nor the brightest, but when it comes to portable projectors on a budget, Acer has got it nailed. Achieving around 100 Lumens of brightness, this tiny micro projector – one that gets all of its power from the USB port of a connected laptop – is the darling of the portable Powerpoint presentation.
Bigger and brighter than the aforementioned Philips, it weighs 304g and measures 120 x 82 x 26mm, but manages only 854 x 480 pixels. Pride of place in Acer's Travel Series, the C120 will appeal to any road warrior who needs to impress with an instant Powerpoint presentation – though a reasonably dingy environment is a must. If only it worked with Apple products, too.
Verdict: Less is more on this astonishingly small DLP LED Pico PJ.
3. Epson EB-X11
Epson's EB-X11 is an attempt to please everyone in a reasonably compact, highly capable package. Measuring just 295 x 228 x 77mm and weighing 2.3kg, the EB-X11 is made for a life on the move (check-out the handy lens cover that instantly shuts-off the lamp and speakers), though it doesn't come with Wi-Fi.
Its high brightness rating of 2600 Lumens is useful, as is its HD-ready 1024 x 768 resolution; this is a big cut above the Pico PJs. Highly portable and very dependable, the EB-X11 is so easy to set-up and fulfils its simple brief with the minimum of fuss. It's a lesson in how to make a great classroom projector – but don't expect any extras.
Verdict: This good value beamer is all about compromises, but it's brighter than most.
4. Optoma ML550
At 550 Lumens, the ML 550 is brighter than its competitors at this size and enormously well connected. Optoma has come-up with something quite special for anyone looking for something to power portable 1280 x 800 resolution presentations.
Complete with a built-in 1.5GB flash drive, it's easy to stow (it weighs just 380g and measures 39 x 105 x 106mm) and a cinch to set-up and operate. We're nevertheless wary that the ML550 comes with no tablet/smartphone features as standard. An optional Wi-Fi dongle is needed for that – at extra expense. It seems rather archaic in these post-dongle days, but an ML550 with a dongle added adds up to the most versatile and capable ultra-mobile projector around. Expensive, but worth it, this is a Pico with extra oomph.
Verdict: The brightest, nicest and best connected palm projector yet.
5. BenQ GP10 Ultra-Lite
Able to project a 40-inch image from just a metre away, the GP10 Ultra-Lite is a solution for two scenarios; presentations in small rooms, offices and boardrooms, and for watching movies at home. At 1.5kg it's among the smallest 'proper' PJs around, measuring 62 x 220 x 177mm, and it ships with a padded briefcase-style bag with a shoulder strap and compartments for cables.
Versatile 1280 x 800 pixel resolution images and surprisingly loud speakers make this an everyman small projector, which is at home on a coffee table for the odd movie as it is for a presentation on-the-go. We particularly like how files can be played from a SD card or USB stick, and though the Mac software to bring wireless laptop mirroring is troublesome (and there's no Android app), the iOS app's integration and real-time photo slideshows – complete with live doodling – is exquisite.
If you're on a tight budget and after very modern all-rounder with something special to offer, BenQ's GP10 makes a great choice.
Verdict: Compact, short-throw DLP LED projector with innovative iOS integration.
6. ViewSonic PJD6544w
A thoroughly advanced and well connected business beamer, at 3500 Lumens the PJD6544w is much brighter than most, and although that means extra bulk (it weighs 2.14kg and measures a tall 335 x 265 x 128mm), for many it will be worth it since it can deliver a presentation in almost any lighting conditions.
An excellent vPresenter app that shows all manner of files stored on an iPhone or iPad – or even on a linked Dropbox account – reaches its zenith with real-time streaming from an iDevice's camera. A Wi-Fi dongle is an add-on and the extra brightness means a loud operation, too, but the 1280 x 800 resolution-capable PJD6544w remains a smart choice for anyone after a projector to pair with an iPad.
Verdict: Awesome iOS integration and an extra dose of brightness.
7. Dell M900HD
Weighing just over 1.3kg and measuring a svelte 232 x 164 x 43mm, Dell's smallest projector can fetch your presentation, photos or videos wherever you've stored them. Designed for travel, and complete with a nicely made, mottled fabric padded case, the LED-powered M900HD has 2GB storage, WiDi, Miracast and a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution that's good for a crisp 70-inch image.
All bases are covered for presentations, with the chance to project a presentation from a USB stick, SD card, any laptop and almost any smartphone or tablet. It's not the brightest projector on the block and nor is it totally adept with video. But if you're looking for a convenient, portable all-rounder for a life on the road – or around an office block – Dell's M900HD is hard to beat.
Verdict: Tiny WiFi business projector is the most versatile yet.
8. Epson EB-1945W
A serious corporate projector with the specs to match, Epson's EB-1945W comes with a price-tag that's reasonably easy to swallow. A capable projector that excels with data and does pretty good with video too, the ultra-bright, short-throw EB-1945W has some awesome convenience features that make quick set-up and instant presentations possible.
PDF support from USB is handy, but the highlight is its fabulous, versatile 1280 x 800 pixel images. Hooking-up a PC is a cinch, but you probably don't even need one since the EB-1945W can read PDF, JPEG, GIF and PNG files from a USB thumb-drive inserted into its rear. Ultra bright at 4,200 lumens, the 377 x 271 x 108mm EB-1945W weighs 3.9kg and feels reasonably portable. It's perfect for carting between the rooms of an office.
Verdict: Powerful 3LCD lamp and easy set-up on this corporate contender.
9. NEC PE401H
An entry-level DLP installation projector aimed at conferences and classrooms, NEC's PE401H is thoroughly professional – and a tad old-fashioned. Eschewing apps, Wi-FI and LED light sources, the PE401H is all about image quality, which is exceptionally sharp and lusciously coloured.
The PE401H is also simple to use, with few modern wireless tricks and apps to get your head around, though the totally separate, optional DisplayNote software has extensive – even unique – collaboration opportunities for classrooms. With some excellent speakers too, the PE401H is a great all-in-one choice for technophobes, although modern wizardry – like Intel WiDi – is possible via an adaptor. Easy to set-up, this is Full HD at its best.
Verdict: A bright, colourful and rather old-fashioned DLP for classrooms and boardrooms.
10. Sony VPL-FHZ55
While it's the lack of lamp changes that will temp many corporate buyers, the VPL-FHZ55 will delight as a semi-permanent installation projector. A plethora of ins and outs, as well as some all-important lens shift dials, make the VPL-FHZ55 reasonably simple to install, and there's little complexity in the onscreen menus.
Some will miss the kinds of connected features becoming common on data projectors, such as a Wi-Fi Direct, apps for mobile devices, media reading software and built-in flash storage. They probably should be included here to add extra flexibility, and so should a remote control actually built to partner the VPL-FHZ55. But as a powerful beyond-HD 1920 x 1200 resolution projector that needs little or no maintenance, this laser light box – rated to last 20,000 hours – makes an excellent choice.
Verdict: The first blue laser 3LCD hybrid data projector is a low maintenance light fantastic.