There isn’t usually a lot of room for innovation in the world of projectors, and manufacturers tend to follow the same formula with very minor variations. From one point of view the NP200 is another formulaic projector in an averagely styled box. From another, it manages to pack in features and get more right than many projectors do.
At first sight it isn’t anything to get excited about – it’s a generic squat and curvy Japanese corporate, though white instead of black plastic gives it a cleaner feel than usual. While this isn’t the lightest projector, at 2.3kg it’s certainly portable. The back panel holds the usual collection of video connectors. There’s no DVI-D input, but an Apple adaptor and a VGA cable had no trouble linking to standard VGA socket. Composite and S-Video are included, but there’s no component video or HDMI. However, there is a Monitor Out for sharing the picture across multiple units, and an audio in – although the speaker is low-fi, generally the standard for on-board audio in projectors.
Instead of a dedicated button panel there’s a single remote, which clicks into place in a slot on the top of the unit and is held in place by a strong magnet. Assuming you’re organised enough not to lose the remote, this approach works very well. It helps that the remote is very good – an intuitive cross-bar button layout makes menu navigation and source selection simple and relatively painless to perform.
Last and certainly not least, image quality is also very good. With 2000 ANSI lumens and a contrast ration of 1300:1 from the 1,024 x 768 DLP chip, the image is clean and crisp without obvious jaggies around letters. Assuming traditional UK gloom, it’s bright enough to be visible in daylight, although it might struggle on very sunny days. The only disappointment is colour saturation, which is slightly muted. There are the usual presentation, video and sRGB modes to choose from. In practice the NP200 works best as a presentation projector – you could certainly use it for home cinema, but that wouldn’t be its strong point.
Although the recommended retail price is high, it’s available from some retailers for at least £150 less, and at that price the NP200 is something of a bargain. It has high brightness, good ease of use and portability. If the design were a little easier on the eye and it had DVI-D and, perhaps, also HDMI, it would be perfect.