- Compact, lightweight design
- bright, high-resolution image.
- Multimedia expansion unit occupies the digital input.
Compaq's range of lightweight 'Microportable' projectors has built up a good reputation in a relatively short period of time, and the new MP2800 will do that reputation no harm at all. In fact, this well designed 1.36kg projector with its native XGA resolution and 1,000-lumen brightness is very impressive.
Like its MP1400 and MP1800FL predecessors, the MP2800 has a striking upright design, which Compaq claims helps to minimise keystone distortion. If adjustment is required, there's a digital keystone correction feature. A swing-out foot provides the black-and-silver device with the necessary stability.
The MP2800 uses Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology, which is notable for providing an excellent contrast ratio, and for its fast pixel-switching rate that's particularly suited to video handling. The DMD (Digital Micromirror) chip at the heart of the MP2800 has a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels (XGA), and the firmware will handle non-native input resolutions of 832 by 624, 800 by 600 and 1,280 by 1,024.
The unit has analog and digital (DVI) inputs, but the bundled multimedia expansion unit also uses the DVI port, so you can't plug in a digital signal and have audio (or video) at the same time. The expansion unit carries composite and S-video connectors plus an audio jack, and also houses the single (distinctly tinny-sounding) speaker, a PS/2 mouse port and an infrared receiver.
Thanks to its 1,000-lumen brightness rating, the MP2800 can be used successfully in even brightly lit rooms. The lamp unit is easily accessible, allowing users to replace the lamp when it expires -- which is forecast to happen after 2,000 hours of operation. Acessibility to the MP2800's 1.2X manual zoom lens has also been improved compared to previous models.
All of the MP2800's controls are conveniently located on top of the unit's lens barrel. If you have the multimedia expansion unit fitted, you can use the supplied infrared remote control as a mouse, and to make menu selections. Presenters will also appreciate the remote's built-in laser pointer.
We used DisplayMate Technologies' DisplayMate to assess the MP2800's image quality, and found no serious problems. Colour gradients show some banding, and brightness uniformity could be better -- as with many DLP projectors. However, image quality is generally good.
Compaq's previous projectors were particularly noisy, and the MP2800, although quieter, remains an audible presence in a meeting room. This is a shame as the MP2800, with its portability and video handling capabilities, is very likely to be taken home at weekends and used in conjunction with a TV, VCR or DVD player. In a living room, the fan noise -- as well as the light leakage from the otherwise solid casing -- may be particularly noticeable.
Overall, though, the MP2800 is an excellent data/video projector, and a very desirable piece of kit. However, projector prices will need to reduce significantly before these devices become anywhere near as commonplace as the notebook PCs to which they are generally attached.