Sony VPL-EX4 Saint John NB

Vents expel hot air through the front of the projector rather than the sides, which is more comfortable for viewers, as the projector is likely to be placed in the middle of a conference table, with the audience seated along the sides.

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Sony VPL-EX4

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Nearly all office projectors are grey, silver and black, with a boxy, industrial feel, but Sony's VPL-EX4 is quite stylish. It has a neat white top surface with a silver trim, and its rounded corners give it a much softer look.

Vents expel hot air through the front of the projector rather than the sides, which is more comfortable for viewers, as the projector is likely to be placed in the middle of a conference table, with the audience seated along the sides.

With a brightness of 2,100 ANSI lumens, the VPL-EX4 can display presentations clearly without you having to dim the lights. It has a short throw distance, which means you can get a reasonably large picture in a small room. At six feet (1.8 metres) from the screen it can project a 60in (152.4cm) picture. The projector has no DVI input, but it does have two VGA inputs, so you can connect two PCs. It also provides a monitor output, composite and S-video connectors and a 1W built-in speaker.

The VPL-EX4's 400:1 contrast ratio is average for an LCD business projector. However, in our tests we found that while we had bright whites, black areas looked slightly grey. It also had trouble displaying high-contrast images, and the projected image wasn't as sharply detailed as those from Dell's 1800MP. There's no noise reduction, which results in speckling in moving images where there are large areas of a single colour, such as the sky. However, this is fairly normal for data projectors, and this projector isn't really designed for watching movies.

Otherwise, the VPL-EX4 did well in our performance tests. Colours were rich and bright, and whites were pure and clean. The projector reproduced the Windows desktop sharply at its native resolution of 1,024x768 and text was easy to read. It accepts a maximum resolution input of 1,400x1,050 and did a good job of scaling the image down.

Replacement lamps cost £235 and last for 2,000 hours. This results in rather expensive running costs of 12p per hour compared with Dell's 1800MP, which costs just 8p per hour. The VPL-EX4 has an ECO mode, however, which reduces the projector's brightness to a reasonable 1,500 ANSI lumens and increases the bulb life to 3,000 hours, lowering the running costs to 8p per hour.

Sony's VPL-EX4 is an attractive and versatile projector that provides great image quality for business presentations. It's also £106 less than Dell's 1800MP, making it a good choice if you want a projector just for work. However, if you also want a projector that you can take home and use to watch movies, the 1800MP is a much better choice, as its higher contrast ratio makes watching movies a much more pleasant experience.

System Specifications

3-LCD 1,024x768 native resolution, 400:1 contrast ratio, 2,100 ANSI lumens

Author: Lynley Oram

Computer Shopper Online