Samsung SP-P410M review
Samsung's latest ultra-portable projector is the prettiest we've seen for a while, with a glossy black case flanked on each side by metal grilles.
It uses LEDs rather than a traditional lamp, and these never need replacing. They don't take a long time to warm up or cool down either. The SP-P410M doesn't get very hot in use, and as a consequence is fairly quiet in normal operation.
As with other mini-projectors we've seen recently, the SP-P410M has touch-sensitive controls that aren't back-lit. They're slightly raised, but feeling for them in the dark is counterproductive as you'll trigger each button as you touch it. An easier option is to use the remote control, which has large, well-placed keys.
The rear of the device has VGA and composite video inputs, as well as stereo phono audio inputs and a USB port, which lets you plug in a memory stick and access music, videos and pictures directly. The SP-P410M supports MPEG1, MPEG2 and XviD video formats, and MP3 and WMA audio formats. Sound quality from the built-in 1W speakers is surprisingly good, although not quite loud enough to fill a room. Sadly, there's no audio output, so if you play content from a USB stick, you'll have to use the internal speakers.
Image quality was great, thanks mainly to the 170-lumen brightness, which is the highest we've seen from an LED projector. Colour accuracy was far better than from BenQ's GP1, and focus was consistent across the entire image. At its native 800x600 resolution, the Windows Desktop is crisp. The SP-P410M handles inputs of up to 1,280x1,024, but the downscaling reduces clarity.
Presentations and films looked slightly washed-out under typical office lighting, but with the lights off, the image had vibrant colours and sharp edges. There are plenty of image quality settings, including useful presets for different source material. The SP-P410M even has digital noise reduction, which helps to reduce the effects of downscaling the image to the native resolution.
Despite its small size, the SP-P410M is quite heavy, and you'll have to carry the chunky power supply with it. Samsung provides a shoulder bag, which can hold the projector, power supply, VGA cable and remote. It's strange that the SP-P410M doesn't have auto-keystone correction, but at least there's a tripod mount. It does provide mirror and invert functions, though, so you can use it as a rear projector or mount it on a ceiling.
The SP-P410M is the first truly usable LED projector we've seen, thanks to its brightness, image quality and quiet operation. However, the lack of an audio output is a frustrating niggle, and means it just misses out on an award.
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