Sharp PG-A10X review
In spite of its modest hardware, the PG-A10X packed a performance punch beyond our expectations. Smaller audiences will appreciate the excellent Eco mode.
Review Date: 18 Jun 2003
Reviewed By: Alistair Dabbs
Price when reviewed: (£2,156 inc VAT); Replacement bulbs, £295 (£346 inc VAT)
You have to be realistic about what an ultra-portable projector can achieve, so it's no discredit to Sharp for building the PG-A10X to a modest specification. In fact, what impresses us most is how well such an unassuming product performs in practice, regardless of all those numbers.
Flying in the face of the fashion for DLP, this is an LCD projector built inside a compact case. There are two quick-release screw legs at the front and one flip-open stilt at the rear. Just one infrared window is provided for remote-control support, situated at the front of the unit next to the lens alongside its manual size and focus adjustment rings. The remote-control handset itself is uncomplicated and lacks the ability to take over a mouse pointer. Basic control buttons are provided on top of the projector, although we found it best to stick with the remote control because the top of the case gets hot. Usefully, there's a pair of lamp and temperature warning LEDs next to these buttons, just in case.
Connectivity is limited to one VGA, one S-Video and one composite video port, plus an audio socket and serial port, all located together at the rear of the box. So far, it's all quite unassuming. It's only when we put the machine to test that it proved to be quite a performer. The first surprise came on channelling audio to the built-in speaker: it lacks bass but produces an unexpectedly loud and high-quality sound for a mere 1W mono setup. It certainly beats the pants off anything most multimedia stereo notebooks can produce.
The next surprise came when checking the projector's support for emulated video resolutions, which turned out to be quite excellent. Even small text remained readable when pushing the resolution up to 1,280 x 1,024 or pulling it down to 640 x 480. Few other projectors we've tested managed to perform so well in this respect. The digital keystone correction was less startling. Its vertical-only adjustment just manages to keep the image on the acceptable side of blurry.
A good set of image controls is provided through on-screen menus, letting you set colour temperature, gamma preferences and the usual contrast, brightness and individual RGB levels. There's also an sRGB toggle that produces a more realistic colour image, if a notably less vivid one. The sRGB mode would suit photo-dominated presentations, but is probably best switched off for ordinary PowerPoint shows.
The PG-A10X produces a very stable image, suffering only from a slight shimmer with certain dotty greys that couldn't be completely eliminated with the phase and clock controls. We especially liked the Eco mode, which, although really intended as a low-power mode for extending lamp life, is easy on the eye in a small venue such as a meeting room. The mode also allows the fan to slow down and quieten; in normal projection mode, it's loud enough to be intrusive in more intimate venues.
With its solid image, superbly clear text and special features, the PG-A10X lends itself best to PC-based presentations and training applications. The healthy sub-£2,000 price can't be ignored either.
Author: Alistair Dabbs
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