LG HS102 review
Following on from Dell's M109S LED projector (see What's New, Shopper 255), LG has launched its assault on the ultra-portable market. The HS102 is roughly 50 per cent bigger than the M109S, but it packs a more powerful 160-lumen LED lamp.
Compared with the M109S's 50 lumens, the HS102's lamp is noticeably brighter. In fact, when projecting an image up to around 70in in a dimly lit room, you'll forget this isn't a traditional bulb-based projector. Colours are accurate, details are sharp and motion is smooth. Our only complaints are a distracting shimmering effect on block colours and relatively poor contrast.
With a native resolution of 800x600 pixels, the HS102 lags behind most business projectors, and it isn't widescreen. There's no zoom, either, so to get the image size you want, you'll have to position the projector accordingly. For business travellers, however, these are acceptable compromises.
We were shocked - though not literally - by the giant power supply, which is around half the size of the projector. The HS102 may weigh only 780g, but add in the 540g power supply and you're left carrying 1.32kg. This is around the same weight as many inexpensive bulb-based ultra-portable projectors. An optional external battery, which LG claims will power the HS102 for two hours, costs an extra £160 including VAT.
Unlike Dell, LG has built in a media player, so you can simply insert a USB flash drive into the rear and watch videos and slideshows. This could save you carrying a laptop containing a PowerPoint presentation, and is ideal for watching TV shows or movies in your hotel room. Disappointingly, file support is limited, though it will display JPEG images and play DivX, XviD, MPEG1 and MPEG2 video codecs. There's also an MP3 player, but the puny 1W mono speaker isn't loud enough for listening to music. Thankfully there's a minijack audio output, so you can connect a set of headphones or speakers.
Like Dell, LG has opted for touch-sensitive controls on top of the HS102. We found these responsive, but would have preferred physical buttons. The slim remote control has more comprehensive controls, including volume, keystone correction and fast-forward and rewind buttons.
On the rear of the HS102 is a VGA port (a cable is included along with an adaptor to convert it to a component video input), plus a proprietary AV input. The bundled AV cable has composite video and mono phono connectors. Oddly, these are male, so you can only connect devices with female phono cables. Most digital cameras and camcorders have cables with male phono plugs, so you'll have to buy an adaptor to join the cables together. Given the size of the projector, we're surprised LG didn't include a standard composite video input.
We were initially attracted by the HS102's small size and low price. However, the bulky power supply and expensive optional battery are disappointing. The built-in media player saves it somewhat, but most business travellers will need to carry a laptop with them anyway. If you need to make presentations on the road, an ultra-portable projector and netbook make for a more flexible and not much more expensive pairing.