Tools Of The Trade: A portable projector for small businesses and freelancers

Put on a great show without blowing the budget
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The Independent Online

PowerPoint presentations are an unavoidable fact of modern business life. But anyone who has had to do this advanced sort of computerised slideshow using someone else's equipment knows the risks involved. There is nothing worse than a computer presentation that won't run.

The one way to ensure it does work is to have your own projector, but until recently the cost of the technology has been too high for smaller businesses.

Dell, though, has built its business model on lowering industry price points, and its 2200MP projector is no exception. Costing £799 in the UK, Dell's offering makes buying a projector a realistic option for both small companies and freelancers, and without unreasonable compromises in either its functions or portability.

The 2200MP is a neat, duo-tone silver unit that comes complete with a fitted carrying case for the projector and its extensive collection of cables. It is not the smallest, lightest or brightest projector on the market, but at this price the Dell product's shortcomings will be ones that most business users can live with.

Its 1,200 lumens bulb means the 2200MP is not as bright as some of its more expensive rivals (the higher the number of lumens, the brighter and better the image).

Although the image is sharp, producing a good display in regular office lighting (even with the blinds down) is not as easy as on a top-of-the-range unit. The display input is analogue only, which means bulkier cables and, potentially, a less sharp display than on a digital- (DVI) compatible projector.

But connecting up to a computer is simplicity itself, and the unit worked out of the box with both Macintosh and Windows PCs. The bundled remote control gives access to key settings such as brightness and contrast, as well as more detailed menu functions such as widescreen settings.

Nor is the 2200MP limited to use with a computer. The unit comes complete with cables for connecting to a DVD player, either for office audio-visual presentations or for setting up a home cinema. The projector has settings for desktop use, ceiling mounting or back projection, so most bases are covered there.

Picture quality, of course, does vary with price, and the 2200MP will not win too many prizes in absolute quality terms; more expensive units, including those from Dell itself, will perform better.

But setting the 2200MP's picture quality against its low price, the product represents excellent value for money. Equally important, for anyone who wants to take a projector to meetings rather than relying on other people's equipment, is that the manufacturer has not compromised on size. The Dell is compact enough to carry round, and, at 2.1kg, lighter than most laptop computers.

Again, there are smaller projectors on the market but the 2200MP is portable enough for most people's needs, most of the time. A digital input would make it ideal, but otherwise it is a very workmanlike product at a very attractive price.

THE VERDICT

Dell 2200MP projector

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cost: £799 + VAT

Available from: www.dell.co.uk

Pros: low price (although rivals are bringing their prices down), reasonable size and weight.

Cons: no digital input; not the brightest images.

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