- Editor's Rating
- Projector small and light, perfect for road warriors
- Image bright and clear
- Wireless adapter setup a hassle, but it does actually work
- Setup process is clunky and could be made much easier
- Requires Microsoft Office, only runs on Windows
- Cumbersome Wi-Fi adapter tweaking often required, too
This projector/adapter combination is a good first step towards what could be a wireless network-connected future for projectors overall, but hassles still remain.
Consumers who work in wireless or often give presentations have long been pining for a product that provides users with the ability to give a presentation from a handset or tablet, wirelessly connecting to the projector with no need for cables, adapters, or wondering why control-shift-F7 (or whatever) seems to have no effect on an impatient audience.
Well, it would appear that ViewSonic has at least partially given users this ability with a small but powerful LED/DLP video projector and an optional wireless adapter (sold separately) that moves at least part of the way to presentation nirvana.
The PLED-W500 projector itself is tiny (but not quite as small as the so-called “pocket projectors”) and light (only 1.6 lbs.), so it’s perfect for road warriors. The image is surprisingly bright and clear, and suitable for small-scale home-entertainment applications as well. Connectivity includes HDMI, with 1080p compatibility – although the native resolution is only 1280×800 (720p). As noted earlier, the light source is LED. Users can expect very long life (the spec is 20,000 hours) from this lamp, although the fan noise can be a bit loud. Brightness is rated at 500 lumens (which ViewSonic rates as roughly equivalent to a 1200-luman traditional light source), more than sufficient in a slightly-darkened room.
The WPD-100 wireless unit is a tiny 802.11n (150 Mbps) USB adapter that is plugged into the back of the projector, although drivers are also included for Windows as well, including a clever soft-AP function. Setting up involves little more than plugging the adapter into the projector, connecting to the SSID it hosts (remember the part above about soft APs?), and connecting. Changing an IP address or network bridging might be involved, and your screen resolution and color scheme might also be automatically changed, so all of this isn’t as user-friendly as it might be. The actual connection is made via an app called MirrorOp Lite, which is included. Just select the USB port on the projector, and then use MirrorOp Lite to connect to the PLED-W500. And there’s the PC’s screen on the projector, just like that.
Users looking to show a PowerPoint deck from a handset may run into some issues. When using an iPhone 5, users must first download Awind’s MobiShow Lite third-party app from the App Store; this app provisions connectivity to the projector and controls the display of a restricted set of file types. Then, to run PowerPoint, users must download the PtG2 Converter, to convert PowerPoint decks to Presentations to Go format, which is used by Mobishow.
Bad news, though: this essential application runs only on Windows, and requires Microsoft Office to be installed – so Mac, Linux, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and etc. users are out of luck. It’s then just a matter of making sure the device meets the restricted set of system requirements and then syncing the iOS or Android device (more restrictions) and then using Mobishow to control advancing the slides. The process overall, thus, is clunky and could be made much easier – how about a native PowerPoint file player? What about something more universal, for .pdfs and such? Still, the promise is evident, and with a little software the products tested here could be more than usable in business settings.
Users will also have to up the Wi-Fi adapter (more software, it seems), which can be a pain. It would be nice if users could configure the adapter (including IP address and SSID) on the projector via HTTPS from any computer (as is the case with wireless routers, for example, or, worst case via the remote control and on-screen display a la TV set-top boxes), and if the connection could be set up as a wireless client, connecting to the user’s network, rather than as an AP. And it would be nice to have a little management program to determine who gets access to the device and when. Overall, though, the projector/adapter combination is a good first step towards what could be a (wireless, of course) network-connected future for projectors overall.
The PLED-W500 costs $699.99 at the time of review. The WPD-100 wireless adapter costs $122.99.
By Craig Mathias