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Click image for a list of specifications for the VT540.

MultiSync VT540 LCD Projector
at a Glance

Manufacturer: NEC
Price: $6,495

Equipment Used: Macintosh G4 400 (Mac OS 9.0.4, ATI Rage Pro 128); Power Macintosh 7300/200 (Mac OS 9.0.4, ATI XClaim VR); DVD player; VCR; various professional and entertainment titles.

Overall Impression: Sharp, clear, bright output in a number of lighting situations and surfaces. A very pleasurable experience.

Key Benefits: Excellent remote/pointer sensitivity; very easy to install; beautiful output; simple access to a number of image settings.

Disappointments: Other than the fact that the onscreen menus have Windows-looking title bars, this thing didn't disappoint one bit.

Recommendation: Strong Buy


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NEC’s MultiSync VT540 LCD Projector

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

For the last few weeks, I've had my hot little hands on a hot little LCD projector from NEC—the MultiSync VT540. I put it through its paces on a number of tests, from looking at PowerPoint presentations (one of the functions it was designed for) to setting it up as the ultimate gaming display to installing it as a component in my ersatz home theater system. I used it in indirect sunlight; I used it in the dark; I pointed it at just about every surface imaginable. And, in the end, the biggest disappointment was having to give it back.

The 540 is part of a small family of light-weight VT front-screen projectors using NEC's Vortex technology, a system that includes improved optical components and diachroic mirrors for higher color saturation and cleaner color shades. It also includes enhanced white uniformity by measuring thickness variations in the projector's panel; gamma correction; and black detail enhancement that dynamically expands low-level grayscale information.

Along with its native resolution of 1,024 x 768 (0.9 p-Si TFT), the result is stunning picture quality suited just as well for high-resolution presentations in the boardroom as for projecting digital video in the home.

Actually, I can't help but harp on the fact that the VT540 makes an outstanding centerpiece for a home theater, since that's the function it served in my home for the bulk of our review period. NTSC video looks great with resolution enhancement; and DVDs take on a theater quality that will make it almost impossible for you to turn this thing off. (Actually, in one night I watched The Iron Giant, Starship Troopers, Army of Darkness and Apocalypse Now because nothing short of passing out from exhaustion could peel me away from this experience.)

Many of you DVD aficionados out there will be familiar with the frustrations of CG mixed with live action on the small screen, be it a standard television or a computer CRT. But the black detail enhancement of the VT540 helps reduce the cartoonish effect of the CG and actually generates a theater-like presentation in which the computer-generated graphics blend more naturally with the live action—as they were originally composited to do. And this is as true of consumer DVD players running off RCA plugs as it is of your G4's built-in DVD piped through an ATI Rage Pro. (It'll also work on the built-in video of older Macs and even ships with an adapter to accommodate Apple's old proprietary video port. That's awfully considerate, isn't it?)

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