Mover and shaker

This pocket rocket offers a lot of picture for the price, says Steve May. But it should resolve to do better
 

The latest entrant in the increasingly crowded budget 1080p projector market, the ViewSonic Pro8200 has an impressive resumé. At a tidy 3.63kg, this diminutive 2,000 lumens light cannon bristles with connection options, sports TI’s BrilliantColor picture technology and utilises a freshly minted 0.66in Digital Mirror Device for ultra-spiky detail.

The vented sides that drag air across the light engine may give the Pro8200 a little bit of a ‘fan heater’ aesthetic, but overall it’s a rather nice looking and well-built projector.

Connectivity is generous. Crammed on to the back panel are two HDMI inputs, one component input, S-video and phono inputs, a pair of PC connections and a 12V trigger to integrate the projector with an electric screen. There is also a monitor output from the unit and a USB input, although the latter is for firmware updating and does not allow media playback.

For users who may wish to plonk the lightbox on a coffee table for occasional use, a trio of feet allow easy tabletop alignment, while auto/manual keystone correction (giving +/– 20 degrees of adjustment) is on hand to keep things on the straight and narrow.

Gamers’ delight

ViewSonic says the model, which has a 16:9 native aspect ratio, is aimed at both movie fans and console gamers. Given that the projector throws out enough light to be used in a partially lit room, it’s easy to imagine the Pro8200 as the centrepiece of a frag party, and I must admit that running Call Of Duty: Black Ops through it was enormously engaging.

When it comes to home theatre usage, it should be noted that this is not a particularly inconspicuous projector. The fan and spinning colour wheel throw out 31dB. You can curtail this noise by running the projector in its Dark Room (cinema) mode and/or selecting the Eco setting. This drops operational noise down to 27dB. The latter also helps extend lamp life, typically to 6,000 hours.

With a fringe on top

Straight out of the box, it’s apparent that the default black level setting of the Pro8200 is too light. It doesn’t take long to work out why.

Using a 20/20 step B&W scale, I tweaked the gamma to give a deeper, more contrasty image, which immediately brought that old DLP chestnut, rainbow effect, to the fore. Colour fringing remains an issue with single-chip DLP, despite advances in wheel technology. To confirm this I called on my chum Buster Keaton. His 1922 comedy The Frozen North is awash with the sort of contrasty black and white that provides perfect fringe-testing fodder.

If you are sensitive to DLP’s colour rainbows, you can always run gamma low to minimise them (although blacks are rendered a mid-grey). Video processing comes via Pixelworks PW980 silicon, which offers 10-bit colour and motion adaptive de-interlacing. With no shortage of picture tweaks available, it’s really not too difficult to get a good image. Colour fidelity is excellent and I found the reds were particularly convincing.

There are, unfortunately, serious problems with motion resolution and image panning. A horizontally scrolling monoscope pattern confirms that subjective resolution drops from around 1080 lines, when stationary, to a smudgy 600-700 lines when travelling.

Even worse, our Pro8200 sample performed a curious little jump/skip as the image panned. This hiccup proved constant and consistent. When I examined test patterns, the effect was all too obvious, although within general video hubbub it’s less easy to spot, but it’s still there.

Nice for the price

Overall I’d rate this as a nice enough budget 1080p projector, given the ticket price. However, despite its many plus points the package is undermined by poor motion resolution, and that panning ‘skip’ is definitely irritating,


HCC VERDICT

Viewsonic Pro8200
Price:
£900 Approx

HighsExcellent colour fidelity; good connectivity; bright enough for a partially lit room; modest footprint
Lows: Limited motion resolution; noisy runner

Performance: 3/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 3/5


Specifications

3D ready: no Not for £900!
HD Ready: yes full HD, 1080p24
Component video: yes 1 set
HDMI: yes 2 HDMI v1.3 inputs
PC input: yes 2 x VGA 15-pin D-Sub PC inputs
12V trigger: yes
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Brightness (claimed): 2,500 lumens
Contrast ratio (claimed): 4,000 lumens
Dimensions: 335(w) x 110(h) x 265(d) mm
Weight (w/o stand): 3.63kg
Features: Single-chip 0.66in Digital Micromirror Device DLP; lamp life 3,000hrs/4,000hrs in Eco mode; remote handset; 0.9m–10m throw distance, up to 300ins screen size; 1.5× manual optical zoom; internal speakers; 27dB fan noise in Eco mode