ViewSonic PLED-W500 full review

The ViewSonic PLED-W500 is a projector finished in an expensive-looking glossy black with posh silver trim that helps project a smart, executive image even before you turn it on. It's tremendously portable – a little smaller and lighter than a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. In paperback. It's bundled with a rather fetching soft case with ample room for its associated cabling.

Not only does the ViewSonic PLED-W500 look good, it's also packed with useful features. What's not apparent from its external appearance is that it contains enough built-in intelligence to function without the aid of a PC or laptop.

Its 1GB of internal storage can be used to display a variety of media, including photos, music, video and office documents. You can also access such content directly from a USB flash drive or hard drive. We successfully projected a selection of MS Office documents including Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Video support also worked well with various formats, playing back HD Windows Media files flawlessly, the ViewSonic PLED-W500 even downscaling from 1080p without a hitch. See also: Group test: what's the best projector?

Inputs include HDMI, VGA, composite and S-Video, plus the ability to function as a PC display via USB. A rather tinny mono speaker is built in which you can fall back on if no external speakers are available. If you're forced to use a wall rather than a screen, the ViewSonic PLED-W500 can compensate for the colour of your wall by selecting the appropriate colour in the on-screen menu.

The small size of the ViewSonic PLED-W500 projector necessitates a small, high-speed internal cooling fan which results in a moderately noisy projector. It's rated at 32dB in its quieter Eco mode, but this also significantly reduces the brightness.

When you've finished presenting, there's no need to leave the ViewSonic PLED-W500 sitting on the table with fan whirring while it cools down. Pressing the off switch results in a full power-down within seconds.

Although not really an entertainment projector, the ViewSonic PLED-W500 provides support for stereoscopic 3D using DLP 3D or nVidia's 3D vision kit, enabling an immersive big-screen 3D experience.

With a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, the ViewSonic PLED-W500 displays images in a 16:10 aspect ratio. Importantly for a multi-purpose projector, this allows you to use the popular formats of both 1024 x 768 and 1280 by 720 (720p) without forcing any digital interpolation of pixels. In this way both business and entertainment applications are served equally well without any reduction in quality.

There's no zoom control on the ViewSonic PLED-W500, so sizing of your displayed image is contingent on the placement of the projector. This is rarely a problem for a portable device which is intended for temporary use in a boardroom, but it does limit your placement options if you're thinking of any longer-term installations.

A small but chunky remote control is included with the ViewSonic PLED-W500, with a sculpted rear surface to facilitate comfortable use while making presentations, and assisted by a built-in laser pointer. It's a big improvement over the credit-card sized controllers we sometimes see with products like this although sadly it doesn't have illuminated buttons for use in darkened rooms.

With a relatively meagre 500 ANSI lumens available, you may have to dim the lights when projecting for a larger audience to a big screen size.

We tested the display with a Datacolor Sypder 3 calibrator and found the quality of the output to vary quite considerably depending on selected display mode. The default ‘PC' mode, for example does a good job of getting a bright, readable image onto the screen – but with a severely limited palette of colours.
It's no match for a dedicated home-cinema device, but switching to ‘Movie' mode causes the screen to dim a little while simultaneously bringing about a dramatic improvement in colour saturation and accuracy, as well as a reduction in audible noise. Skin tones are also rendered with a much more natural appearance, making video content quite pleasurable to watch.

We measured just 52.5% of the NTSC gamut in PC mode, or 74.2% of sRGB. In Movie mode, this expanded to 80.1% NTSC and 113.1% sRGB.

Power consumption PC Mode was 60W in normal mode, and 46W when set to Eco. Changing to Movie Mode lowered this to 53W (normal) and 34W (Eco). Get more Business Advice.

ViewSonic PLED-W500: Test Results

  • Percentage of NTSC gamut (PC Mode):        52.5%
  • Percentage of sRGB gamut (PC Mode):        74.2%
  • Percentage of NTSC gamut (Movie Mode):    80.1%
  • Percentage of sRGB gamut (Movie Mode):    113.1%
  • Power consumption PC Mode (normal):    60W
  • Power consumption PC Mode (Eco):        46W
  • Power consumption Movie Mode (normal):    53W
  • Power consumption Movie Mode (Eco):    34W


ViewSonic PLED-W500: Specs

  • DLP projector
  • 0.45in DMD chip
  • 1280 x 800 native resolution
  • fixed manual optical zoom
  • manual optical focus
  • ±40 degrees auto keystone correction
  • 100in max display size (diagonal)/30in min
  • 0.9–3.0m throw distance
  • 1.4:1 throw ratio
  • 20,000 hours lamp life
  • 500 ANSI Lumens brightness
  • 6000:1 rated contrast ratio
  • 1.07B colours (RGB 10-bit)
  • HDMI 1.3, VGA
  • Composite Video
  • S-Video
  • Component Video (via VGA connector)
  • RS-232 control
  • 2x 3.5mm mini jack audio in/out
  • USB Type A for file storage, USB Type B for USB display, file transfer and firmware upadtes
  • SDHC Card reader
  • mono speaker
  • 2W amp
  • noise level: 36dB/32dB normal/eco modes
  • 214 x 42 x 164mm
  • 1.18kg
  • 3-year limited warranty, labour and LED light source, 1st year Express Exchange Service