Projectors have come a long way since I was in high school.
Where once the word brought up images of mirrored glass with transparencies I now think of lumens, throw distance and mercury lamps.
But even that notion is changing as smaller LED projectors enter the market vying for a spot in boardrooms, classrooms and in some cases your living room.
One of these LED projectors is the Ricoh PJ WXC1110. While it’s name is a mouthful, this little projector is quite simply an LED projector with a short throw lens.
The trouble however is that Ricoh has done little to differentiate the PJ from the smorgasbord of LED projectors on the market, and it’s pricey as hell with a RSP of R14 000.
Small but not small enough to lose
The PJ measures just 4cm x 10cm x 11cm which is small enough to just fit in the palm of my hand. The projector comes with a rather nice carrying case which contains all the cables you’ll need to power the projector and connect it to your PC.
Sadly our review unit did not include an HDMI cable but rather a weird VGA to proprietary connector. The clover power cable is one of those terrible round two-prong plugs which never fits into any plug I own.
Thankfully I have a spare clover plug so this was not an issue for me though it’s worth considering picking up an HDMI and proper plug on your way to the checkout counter.
Aside from the power and “Computer In” input you’ll find HDMI, USB and 3.5mm jack ports as well as a microSD card reader. The PJ also boasts a 1W speaker which is useful.
Something that is rather interesting is the the PJ boasts nearly 3GB of on-board storage capacity so if you have a presentation that you make regularly to clients or have a movie you love watching you can store it directly on the projector.
On the top of the projector there are buttons you can use to access the menus, though a remote control is included.
The most impressive thing about the PJ is the quality of the picture. While the resolution is only 1280 x 800 (WXGA), Full HD movies look great as do presentations coming in through the HDMI and Computer In ports.
My fear for this projector was that it would be somewhat hampered by sunlight. This is the case with many projectors but I’ve found this to be more of a problem in these little LED projectors.
In a room with the curtains drawn and no direct sunlight on the projection surface you’ll get a great image though the darker scenes in Deadpool had us straining our eyes to distinguish what was on screen. This is due to the PJ’s rather low brightness of 600 lumens.
To my mind this brightness is not sufficient enough for a well lit classroom or boardroom, especially if the material being displayed uses darker colours. You can adjust the colour settings to make the picture brighter but it’s hardly ideal as colours soon start to appear faded.
What really surprised me is the throw of this projector. At a distance of 1m I had filled up 1.5m wall with a 16:10 image which is great for a classroom or cramped boardroom, provided there isn’t too much light.
While darker images aren’t as clear in bright light the PJ is completely serviceable for a movie night with your mates, a snap meeting in a dark boardroom or a presentation in a darker classroom.
The only trouble is that the PJ’s suggested retail price is R14 000 and that’s before VAT is added to the equation. There are a number of portable LED projectors that retail for well below that price but they don’t have as great a resolution but make up for that with brightness.
Worse still for the PJ is that we found a great 3 300ANSI lamp projector that retails for under half the price of the PJ. Granted it uses a lamp that has an estimated life of 2 000 hours versus the PJ’s claimed 20 000 hour lamp life.
That however is not enough to recommend the PJ outright. It may be light and portable and have a great lamp life but Ricoh asking consumers to cough up more than the competition is just seems like a battle it’s going to lose.