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By Stephen H. Wildstrom Barely two years ago, I hailed a portable projector that weighed in at under seven pounds. At the time, that seemed like a great breakthrough for weary road warriors. It meant that together with a laptop weighing six pounds or so, a mobile exec could have a complete presentation kit small enough to fit into an oversize briefcase and light enough to carry without risking grave damage to the back.
Funny how these things evolve: By today's standards, that setup is a big, bulky dinosaur. The current benchmark in portability is the LP 130 from InFocus. It's a tiny box, just 7 by 9 by 2 inches, and it weighs a mere three pounds. With an ultralight laptop like the Sony Vaio (see BW, 4/23/01, "Sony's New Vaio Laptop: One for the Road "), you can be all set for that PowerPoint presentation for less than the weight, until very recently, of a projector alone. You'll even have some extra space in your briefcase.
1,000 LUMENS. The remarkable thing about the LP 130 is you give up very little to gain ultra-portability. The projector is based on the Texas Instruments digital light processing system and puts out a very impressive 1,000 lumens. In plain English, that means it projects an image bright enough to be seen comfortably in a normally lit conference room.
It can handle resolutions up to 1,024 x 768 pixels and features a zoom lens, which allows you to control the image size from a fixed projector location. In addition to computer input, the LP 130 can handle television inputs (North American standard NTSC as well as the PAL and SECAM standards used in the rest of the world) and two flavors of high-definition TV (720p and 1080i).
One thing that's not miniature about the LP 130: Its $4,650 price. In the projector business, small and light still translate into expensive.
One cautionary note about any portable projector: Always allow the unit to cool completely before packing it up, and treat it at least as gently as you would a laptop. InFocus specifies the lamp life as 2,000 hours of use, but that can be shortened dramatically by hard knocks, particularly when the bulb is hot. Since a replacement lamp will set you back $300, you'll want to make it last as long as possible. Wildstrom is Technology & You columnist for BusinessWeek. Follow his Flash Product Reviews, only on BW Online