Product: HP vp6120 DLP Projector   (click on link to check current price)

Pros: Image quality, ease-of-use at a compelling price point

Cons: Heat output may be noticeable in small rooms

Summary: HP introduces an easy-to-use, full-featured projector with great image quality at an unbeatable price.

User Experience:

From the moment you unpack the box, the HP vp6120 begins to deliver on the promise of an intuitive user experience. The sleek, metallic chassis offers full menu access and control from conveniently placed on-board buttons. Cables are labeled by use, a Getting Started guide provides diagrams for fast setup and the CD-based manual leaves you confident you'll be able to get an in-depth look at the projector's functionality.

After power up and connection, manual zoom and focus rings allow for easy image adjustment. Our screen was slightly elevated so we adjusted the height of the projector to get a rectangular image. Had our adjustment been insufficient, the HP vp6120 offers ±7 degrees digital keystone adjustment. A note of caution - using digital keystone correction on any projector will cause some image distortion that will be evident when viewing text or data. The vp6120 also comes with 2 spring-loaded, retractable front feet so you can get additional height if needed. If you plan to do a lot of mobile presenting, invest in the optional soft carrying case (this model does not include one) and upgrade to the premium wireless remote with USB (keep the credit card sized remote as a back-up). The premium remote provides a built-in mouse ball and laser pointer. HP included both front and rear IR windows so you can operate the projector via remote from almost anywhere in the room. When comparing comparably equipped units, be sure to factor in the additional cost - $99.99 for the premium remote with USB cable and $29.99 for the carrying case.

The fan motor generates an average amount of noise and heat vents to the rear of the projector. Take note of projector placement when presenting in smaller rooms. When you're ready to shut down, the vp6120 provides a power button surrounded by a cool blue glow for easy detection in the dark. The HP, as well as other projectors, enters a cool down cycle when you turn it off. Allow the cool down cycle to complete before powering off completely or unplugging the unit. The cool down is an important step to avoid sudden temperature changes that can result in reduced lamp life or lamp failure. Two warning lights on top of the unit, one for lamp temperature and one for unit temperature, will illuminate if you exceed safe operating limits.

Features:

Backed by 2000 lumens of brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, and XGA (1024x768) resolution, you can expect lively colors and crisp, clear data and video rendering. Can you get by with fewer lumens? Select economy mode and in addition to quieter operation, your lamp life is capable of reaching 3000 hours. In standard mode users will average 2000 hours of operation.

Throw distances are from 4.9 to 26.2 feet allowing an image diagonal up to 240 inches. At a typical viewing distance of 10 feet, the diagonal size ranges from 74.7 inches to 91.4 inches diagonal. The vp6120 has options for ceiling and tripod mounting. If you choose to mount the projector, consult the manual to determine the optimal placement distance from the screen. Use the diagonal screen measure as a guide.

When you have both data and video connected to the vp6120, you can use the PIP (picture-in-picture) feature to monitor the video source on-screen while you are displaying data. A video out connection let's you access an external monitor for those times when you need to conduct your presentation outside the viewing area of the screen.

Connectivity:

The vp6120 includes a VGA cable, an RCA cable, and a PC audio cable. Optional cables include an HDTV component cable (RGB) and an S-video cable. The vp6120 is capable of handling composite video, S-video (although the cable is optional), component video and DTV standards as follows: SDTV (480i), EDTV (480p) and HDTV (720p and 1080i).

Warranty:

2-year repair warranty on the projector, 90-day lamp warranty

Test Setup:

We tested the vp6120 in both suggested modes: first, as a business projector then watching DVD movies. For business use, we connected to a Dell laptop using the included VGA cable. Then we connected the vp6120 directly to a Panasonic DVD-S31 DVD player and tested it with both the included RCA cable and a generic S-video cable.

As a presentation projector, the vp6120's XGA resolution means you can project more data-intensive material and still get great image quality. The 2000 lumen brightness provides the flexibility to use the vp6120 in larger rooms or when ambient light is not easily controlled. The vp6120 has automatic signal detection and image synchronization. Although not well suited to video, the 2-watt speaker enables you to bring a nominal level of audio to your presentations.

As a projector for DVD movie viewing, the vp6120 is an admirable performer in the sub-$2,000 price category. Out of the box, the vp6120 needs very little tweaking. The benefits of a 1000:1 contrast ratio come through in video. You'll experience good depth and life-like rendering of color. The technophiles in the crowd may be interested to know that the DLP engine in the vp6120 has a 4-segment color wheel (RGB and white) that runs at 2x speed. The white segment gives a boost to the contrast rating.

Menu:

Although the plug-and-play settings left little need for adjustment, here's a look at the menu options that are available.

Quick tab – allows you to switch input sources, adjust for a keystone effect, change picture mode from data to video, auto-sync your data, and change aspect ratio from full to wide screen

Adjust tab – allows you to adjust brightness, contrast and color temp as well as source-specific changes including saturation, tint, and sharpness for video sources; frequency, tracking, and v-position settings for data or other PC sources

Audio tab – allows you to set the mute option and adjust volume, treble and bass

Setup tab – allows you to select from 11 languages for the on-screen menu, scan for a new input source, select a location for the on-screen display, change the timeout for the on-screen display and under the advanced tab you can define an auto-shutoff time, set the economy mode for the lamp, reset the lamp hours, and reset the unit to it's factory settings

PIP tab – allows you to select a source for the picture-in-picture window; choose a small, medium or large PIP screen size; change the position of the PIP screen, and adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness of the PIP image

Conclusion:

The vp6120 was designed for ease of use with relatively few controls and intuitive menus. To that end, it is well suited for home, education and business as a plug-n-play projector. As of this writing it is the only 2000-lumen XGA projector in the market under $2,000 MSRP and represents a terrific value in its class.