Business travelers need a projector that's small enough to carry, but big enough to lend impact to their presentations. The $499 ASUS P1 Portable LED Projector fills those needs well, offering a bright image and easy-to-use controls in a sturdy, subdued package. But is this the best pico projector on the market?
Utilitarian in design, the P1 has a gray, square, sturdy metal body. The only flash is the silver rounded area by the lens, which also contains the focusing ring. It's a lot less flashy than the ViewSonic PLED-W200, but as a result, doesn't pick up fingerprints as easily.
Measuring 5.1 x 4.9 x 1.3 inches, the P1 is practically the same size as the W200 (5.1 x 5 x 1.3 inches) and both weigh 14.6 ounces. You won't know the difference in your bag.
The top of the P1 has five buttons for navigating the on-screen menus. The right side has a port for connecting the VGA adapter, and the rear, which is vented, has a power port and a Kensington lock slot. Unlike the ViewSonic W200, there's no SD card slot, so you can't use the P1 without a notebook.
Instead of a screw foot, the P1 has a flip-out foot, which means that you can only project at one angle.
One nice feature on the P1 is that it uses a power brick common to many ASUS notebooks, so those with the latter only need to carry one adapter.
ASUS keeps it simple: A small gray-and-white control panel let us quickly adjust settings such as keystoning, and switch between the P1's seven modes (Standard Mode / Black Board / White Board / Dynamic Mode /Game Mode / Scenery Mode / Theater Mode). This simplicity may be useful for travelers who don't want to futz with settings too much, but the ViewSonic W200 has many more settings in a more colorful menu. For example, in addition to presets for different projection modes, the W200 also lets you create custom profiles.
The ASUS P1 is a DLP LED projector with a brightness of 200 lumens and a resolution of 1280 x 800. Using our light meter, we measured a brightness of 63 lux, which is below the the ViewSonic's 90 lux. Still, after pressing the power button on the P1, it displayed our notebook's desktop in 12 seconds, half the time it took the W200 (25 seconds).
We also found that the ViewSonic offered greater contrast and richer colors, which manifested themselves in darker scenes in movies. When watching "Kingdom of Heaven," we saw less pixelation in forest scenes, and the gleaming armor and bright colors of the knight's flags shone brighter in the desert battles. In "Star Trek," the cadets' uniforms were a richer crimson, and space scenes showed truer blacks, when using the W200.
At six feet away from the screen, the P1 projected an image that was about 6 feet 6 inches in size, almost identical to the ViewSonic. We also liked the auto keystone correction, which squared the image regardless of the angle of the projector.
Vents on all four sides and the bottom funnel air through the projector, but the fan's sound was noticeable, especially in a quiet room. After leaving it on for 15 minutes, the top of the P1 measured 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and the bottom was 96 degrees. Both were lower than the W200's temperatures at those respective locations (110 and 101 degrees, respectively).
The $499 ASUS P1 offers good performance in a compact design. However, for the same price, we like the richer colors, additional input options and the customization options of the ViewSonic PLED-W200. Still, for business travelers looking for an affordable, easy-to-use projector, the ASUS P1 will not disappoint.