NEC MultiSync VT470 review
It's attractively priced, bright and quiet, but businesses should note the VT470's low resolution. Education users, on the other hand, will find plenty that appeals.
Review Date: 20 Oct 2004
Reviewed By: Roger Kirkwood
Price when reviewed: (£1,050 inc VAT); Delivery £8 (£9 inc VAT)
When a projector sells for less than £1,000, such as this NEC VT470, certain allowances must be made. Specifications will be trimmed to match the price, and a heavy weight can't be judged too harshly.
The VT470 does indeed run a modest resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. That doesn't hamper image quality where text is concerned, with crisp and easy-to-read characters, but it does mean you can't fit a great deal of information on the screen. Large spreadsheets and detailed lists will be off the agenda, leaving this machine best suited for education rather than business use.
It's also a nuisance setting a laptop down to this resolution to present documents - a necessary step because the conversion from 1,024 x 768 blurs fine text even with keystone correction off. Reinforcing its education credentials is wall-colour compensation, which includes a profile for chalk blackboards. This could be handy if your budget doesn't stretch to a proper projection screen.
Brightness hasn't been compromised though, and the rating of 2,000 ANSI lumens will cope with a wide range of ambient light. The 180W lamp should last 2,000 hours, but there's a 150W eco mode that bumps lamp life up to 3,000 hours and shines 1,600 ANSI lumens on the target. The real surprise is how quiet this makes the VT470; we had trouble hearing the fan at all over an air-conditioning system. It's particularly suited to situations where noise may be a distraction, such as an exam room or when playing a movie.
The lack of noise is helped by the bulbous chassis which has plenty of room for airflow and large diameter fan blades. It feels lighter than its 304 x 265 x 103mm size suggests, but at 3.27kg it's no featherweight. With the satchel-style carry bag, power and D-SUB, you'll be carrying a combined weight of 3.92kg.
At default settings we found green had a touch of yellow to it, but otherwise colours were well saturated with a clean white and good contrast. When picking out subtle differences between two similar shades, the LCD mechanism outperforms the Casio and Optoma DLP systems, and it's better for playing movies as there's more detail in the shadows.
It's also easy to set up multiple inputs, with two D-SUB connections, composite video and S-Video, all with discrete audio inputs. There's also a stereo out, monitor out (D-SUB) and a PC control input. That's an impressive range, and the only disappointment is the overhanging lip of the case that makes it difficult to read the top row of port labels.
The other grumble is that the lens system protrudes from the front of the case, making it a target for damage - we recommend attaching the supplied carry handle to the front of the machine to act as a bumper. The lens mechanism also rocks slightly when touched, which is noticeable when adjusting the focus.
If you particularly need a quiet projector, it's difficult to surpass the VT470 in eco mode, and it performs well with movies. The prominent lens heightens the risk of damage though, and without native support for 1,024 x 768 pixels its business appeal is limited.
Author: Roger Kirkwood
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