LED projectors ditch the traditional power-sucking, bulky incandescent lamps of older projectors, instead using small, ultra-bright, energy-efficient light-emitting diodes. The use of LED technology has allowed manufacturers to shrink portable projectors — with some barely larger than a pack of cigarettes. They're easy to throw into a backpack or briefcase along with a laptop for an impromptu presentation. Not all LED projectors are created equal, however. We've rounded up the LED projectors that have passed through our Test Centre so far.
BenQ's Joybee GP1 is well-rounded for a mini projectors. It has a 100 ANSI lumen light output — this is low when compared to traditional incandescent projectors. Nevertheless it will still be able to produce a visible picture in a dim room. A 2000:1 contrast ratio is the best of all the LED-based units we've tested, and an 80in maximum screen size means it's useful for impromptu movie nights.
What's Hot: Good image quality, 80in maximum screen size
The Final Word: BenQ's Joybee GP1 is a nifty little projector, with a native resolution higher than DVD quality and reasonable light output given its tiny size. The non-standard resolution might annoy some users, and although the fan is not especially noisy it wasn't was quiet as we would have liked.
The Dell M109S may have inferior specifications compared to other LED projectors, but it is significantly cheaper. A 50 ANSI lumen brightness rating and 800:1 contrast ratio is acceptable for darker rooms, though it will struggle in bright areas. If you can get the M109S at a discount from Dell's online store, it might be a useful addition to your laptop for portable presentations.
What's Hot: Very light
The Final Word: The tiny Dell M109S is a palm-size LED projector with a low brightness rating of only 50 lumens, which makes it best suited for very small groups in dark or dimly lit conference rooms.
The Maxon Visimax distinguishes itself with its all-in-one approach to presentations. It comes with a portable stand, has an internal speaker and an inbuilt rechargeable battery rated for 30 minutes of usage — all you need is an A/V cable and a laptop to get your presentation rolling. Unfortunately the Visimax's 15 ANSI lumen globe means it's only suitable for darkened rooms.
What's Hot: Tiny size, decent picture, acceptable battery life
The Final Word: If you are travelling and want a large screen, or want to hold a presentation on the go, the Visimax is a great option. Battery power means you do not need to carry fiddly power cables and it comes with everything you will need to hold an impromptu information session.
The Optoma Pico PK-101 offers similar features to the Maxon Visimax, but it's a more refined product. You do pay an extra couple of hundred dollars, but you get two 90-minute lithium-ion batteries and a maximum projection size of 60in. Hooked up to your smartphone, this diminutive unit might be just what you need for portable presentations.
What's Hot: Small and easy to use, includes second battery
The Final Word: Optoma's diminutive projector makes a great travelling companion, despite somewhat fuzzy image projection.
When we tested it, the Acer K10 was the most expensive LED-lit projector on offer. It's larger than the other projectors despite not including an internal battery — but the reason for this becomes apparent when looking at specifications. Like the BenQ Joybee GP1, it has a 100 lumen maximum brightness level. A reasonable contrast ratio of 1000:1 makes it acceptable for watching video at the maximum 60in screen size. We think the Acer K10 is the easiest of this current crop of LED projectors to set up and present with — if it had an internal battery it would be perfect.
What's Hot: Very portable, reasonable contrast levels, lamp replacement unlikely to be necessary
The Final Word: Acer's K10 portable LED projector has low power consumption and a long lamp life. It's small and convenient, and we are looking forward to the technology behind it improving.