Samsung SP-H03 review
Although flawed, this is the best pico projector we've seen so far. If you're planning on using it for PowerPoint presentations, bear in mind there's no remote control for the internal media player.
Review Date: 5 Feb 2011
Price when reviewed: £218
Reviewed By: Jim Martin
Until now, there has been no pocket projector that we'd even have considered recommending. Although Samsung’s latest attempt, which is around the size and weight of a Rubik’s cube, addresses a few of our main complaints, it's still not quite good enough to win an award.
As it's battery powered, you don’t need a second power supply to hook it up to your laptop to make a presentation. The battery lasts around two hours, so should be enough for at least a couple of presentations.
The built-in media player is a real bonus, since you don’t even need a laptop to show a PowerPoint slideshow, photos or videos. The 1W speaker is surprisingly loud, but you wouldn’t want to use it for a feature-length movie. Although the media player has a music section, we can’t see many people using it. There’s a composite video input - the stereo phono audio inputs are shared with this and the VGA input.
As well as PowerPoint, the SP-H03 supports a wide range of formats including DOC, XLS and PDF, plus Office 2007 formats. It can handle plenty of video formats including MKV, M4V and MP4. It played some of our MP4 test files, but not others. Annoyingly, you have to resize photos, as the SP-H03 can’t handle JPEGs over 1,200 pixels wide.
There's 1GB of internal memory, but you can also play files from microSD cards up to 16GB and USB flash drives of any size. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support portable USB hard disks.
Video and PowerPoint playback are useful features, but other document viewers aren't much use. They default to showing whole pages, and it’s cumbersome to zoom in and navigate around pages to obtain readable text. There’s no remote control, and the touch-sensitive controls are all but invisible until you touch one to make them light up. As it's a smooth surface, there's nothing to alert your fingertip that it's over a button.
Image quality is a little better than we’d expected, although still far from the full-size projectors in the Labs (see pxxx). The widescreen resolution of 854x480 is low and not a standard resolution in Windows. Unless you can create a custom resolution, you’ll have to settle for 800x600, which makes text look fuzzy. Colours are fairly realistic, though, and contrast reasonable. It’s impossible to get perfect focus across the entire screen – when the top is in focus, the bottom is slightly out; the corners are fuzzy when the centre is pin-sharp.
The 30-lumen brightness can manage roughly a 30in screen under normal office lighting, only increasing to around 60in (5ft) in near darkness. There’s no keystone correction, so it's best to project from a flat surface, or use the tripod mount underneath.
Fortunately we didn't notice any rainbow effect and, while the focus issue is frustrating, the SP-H03 is the best pocket projector we've seen. It's reasonably priced for what it offers, but unless you need the portability, the sacrifice in quality and resolution mean a full-size projector is still better value.
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