NEC NP-M260W Projector

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NP-M260W is relatively large is that it’s bristling with connectivity options, including two VGA ports for a pair of computers, each with an audio-in jack; another VGA port for connecting to a monitor; an audio-out jack; an Ethernet port; a trio of RCA jacks for composite video; an S-video port; a serial port; a B-type USB port for connecting with a computer; and an A-type USB port for running a presentation off a USB thumb drive.

The NP-M260W’s 2,600-lumen rated brightness matches that of the EX7200 but is exceeded by both the Optoma Pro360W (3,200 lumens) and the ViewSonic (3,000 lumens). Still, brightness is measured on a logarithmic scale, so the difference is more modest than you might expect—the NEC was able to project a bright test image that stood up well to ambient light.

Data and Video Image Testing

The NP-M260W did very well in our data image testing using the DisplayMate test suite. Type was readable down to the smallest sizes. A couple of images showed a slight greenish tint. Still, image quality is more than good enough for any presentation.

Video quality, as tested using selected scenes from Terminator 2 and The West Wing, was very good for a data projector. The NP-M260W did particularly well in retaining detail in some of the darkly lit scenes. Brighter areas occasionally looked slightly washed out, and I encountered some minor posterization (abrupt shifts in color where they should be gradual). Nonetheless, video quality is good enough to watch longer clips or even movies.

As an LCD projector, the NP-M260W is immune to the rainbow effect, a phenomenon that affects most DLP projectors, in which bright areas are broken down to their component colors. Both the Optoma Pro260W and ViewSonic PJD6531w showed traces of it. Although in neither case was it severe, it can be annoying to people who are particularly sensitive to it.

On the other hand, both the Optoma Pro260 and ViewSonic PJD6531w, like many other DLP projectors, are 3D-ready, a feature that the NP-M260W lacks.

One part of video testing that I usually dread is the audio component, as business projectors tend to have feeble speakers and mediocre to poor sound quality. Many come with a single 1-watt speaker, and even more powerful systems are often on the soft side, as was true with the ViewSonic PJD6531w’s pair of 5-watt speakers.

The NP-M260W also has twin 5-watt speakers, and they sound loud and clear. (If you want even louder audio, you can always connect to external, powered speakers through the audio-out port.) Audio isn’t a make-or-break feature for most business presenters, as video clips tend to be short. Still, having good-quality audio is a nice plus for those who need it, and it adds to the projector’s value, both in business venues and in classrooms.

When I first saw the bulky-looking NEC NP-M260W, I had my doubts that it would hold its own against the sleeker, more easily portable WXGA projectors I was to compare it with. Yet it made a believer out of me, between the depth of its connectivity choices, its image quality for both data and video, and a surprisingly capable sound system. Though it may not be quite as easy to lug around as many of its rivals, it’s earned its status as an Editors’ Choice for a lightweight (5 to 7 pound) WXGA projector.

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