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Review: NEC Display Solutions NP-M352WS

The NP-M352WS from NEC Display Solutions is a DLP-based portable projector. It boasts a number of user-friendly features, such as easy wireless communication, maintenance-free design and an ECO Mode. It is rated at 3,500 lumens brightness and offers a resolution of 1280 x 800.

Getting the NP-M352WS out of its box and into action is very straightforward. Simply connect the power and chosen input, give it a few seconds to warm up and take to the controls to fine tune the display. The projector can take a variety of connections, including VGA, composite video and HDMI. There’s a USB Type A port for reading files from a USB memory stick, plus an LAN port that allows images and audio to be sent across a network. The projector can also be controlled over a network. The USB Type B port means users can connect a PC for display or for controlling the mouse from the projector remote.

The NP-M352WS was trialled in a small primary school, where it was installed in a classroom. The projector is designed for short-throw applications – including interactive whiteboards – so this environment was ideal. One of its strengths as a short-throw projector is the avoidance of shadows on the screen or, indeed, the beam in the presenter’s eyes.

Because the NP-M352WS is a DLP projector, it is capable of projecting 3D. Though the operation of this mode is slightly fiddly, the ability to use 3D in the learning environment will be seen by many as a positive. A recent study by the International Research Agency on behalf of Texas Instruments found that the use of 3D in the classroom improves test results by an average of 17%.

The projected image impressed with its brightness and vibrant colours. Though DLP projectors can’t generally match LCD projectors for brightness, this one fared well. Even in a high ambient light, the picture was vivid once the brightness setting had been adjusted to the highest preset. Colour definition is very good and text was displayed clearly and without flicker.

In operation, the NP-M352WS isn’t particularly quiet. The higher the setting the louder the noise, naturally, but even on low settings, such as ECO Mode, the operational noise is still noticeable. This won’t be an issue for most learning environments, but it’s worth considering if the setting demands near silence.

Sound can be played out of a 20W mono speaker. While it’s a useful function to have, it is unlikely to be your first choice of audio, if you can help it. For a fuller listening experience, the projector can be connected to an auxiliary sound system via the stereo output.

The NP-M352WS offers a number of environmentally friendly features. ECO Mode technology is said to increase lamp life up to 8,000 hours, while lowering power consumption. A carbon savings meter calculates the positive effects of operating the projector in ECO Mode, with encouragement from an optional message at start-up. Other green measures include the quick start, which lets you begin presenting in seconds, thus minimising power-up energy; and quick shutdown, which reduces power consumption when switching off by omitting the cooling period.

NEC Display Solutions’ NP-M352WS is available for £747.50 (ex VAT). For that price, the number of features and the performance level, there aren’t too many other projectors that can compete.