So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Good video performance, excellent colour reproduction, USB photo slide show, good price tag
- Image quality problems, over-sharpening, overly bright, unattractive design
The PJ358 doesn't have the best performance on the market but it remains a fairly good projector considering its price tag.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
The Viewsonic PJ358 is a portable LCD projector with a native resolution of 1024x768 and a brightness level of 2000 ANSI lumens. It is manufactured by Hitachi and is identical to the Hitachi CP-X253. The PJ358 is capable of excellent colours and detail but is a little too bright causing some detail to be lost. Primarily suited to business presentations, it can also handle video projection and should suit a casual user. However, it wouldn't be a good choice as a home theatre device as it pales in comparison to a dedicated home theatre unit.
At the native resolution we connected a PC and ran DisplayMate Video Edition. DisplayMate is excellent for discovering the flaws on monitors, televisions and projectors. For the most part, the unit passed all our tests but there were a handful of exceptions. The resolution tests showed banding on both the horizontal and vertical resolution tests. This is an odd result, but one that is not entirely uncommon. It is usually seen when a test is being conducted outside the native resolution of the projector or when keystone correction is employed. In this situation it comes down to a fault of the projector rather than a resolution or keystone quirk since we are using 1024x768 as the resolution with no keystone correction. This banding issue will not impact most users but may manifest when viewing fine details such as line art or even a simple excel spreadsheet.
We also found some over sharpening, especially on text. This caused some haloing and digital artefacts around edges. While it can be reduced with a little calibration, it can't be fully removed as reducing the sharpness level results in the image becoming a little blurry.
We also found the image to be overly bright. We attempted to calibrate around this by adjusting the brightness and contrast but very little could be done to improve the image quality. The image appeared a little washed out, resulting in some loss of detail, most noticeably on black text on a white background. This will become annoying for viewers if the font sizes are small in your presentations but apart from this inconvenience, it isn't an earth-shattering issue.
The colours on the PJ358 are exceptional and have no over-saturation or discolouration. We connected the unit to a DVD player and ran footage from The Matrix via a composite connection. Unfortunately, the PJ358 does not have any digital inputs and therefore cannot be used with high definition content. The DVD looked quite good, but the over-sharpening was a little more noticeable and the image was hampered by a minor degree of noise as well. While it can be used to watch video, we would only recommend watching movies on it as a casual or temporary measure. Since it is a portable projector, it would definitely suit the trip to a friend's house to watch a movie or the football on a big screen. Installing it as a permanent home theatre fixture wouldn't be advisable as there are better home theatre projectors on the market for around the same price.
The PJ358 also has a USB port at the rear that is used to display JPEG images from a USB flash drive. This feature is deployed quite well. The options are fairly basic but the on-screen interface is very easy to use and comes complete with thumbnail shots of each image on the flash drive. The images look good on screen, although we did notice the colours appeared a little washed out at times.
The unit is very quiet and doesn't produce too much heat. It produces a 1.2 metre image from a distance of 101.5cm and up to 7.8 metres from a distance of 762cm. This makes it detail for small areas such as boardrooms or the living room.
The casing of the Viewsonic PJ358 is identical to the Hitachi CP-X253, a unit released well over a year ago (which has since become discontinued). It is a low to mid-range unit by today's market standards - something that is reflected by its limited connectivity options. The rear of the unit has two VGA D-Sub PC connections, S-Video and composite video connections, and the previously mentioned USB port.
While it isn't the most attractive unit on the market and its performance isn't the best on offer, the PJ358 is still a fairly good projector considering the price tag. If you can overlook the handful of problems that the unit has, you can save yourself a good wad of cash. If not, save up a few more pennies and grab something of a higher quality.
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