not look much like a video projector but this intriguing little device can
throw up an image up to 50-inches across. Apart from the small size -- its
footprint is smaller than a CD jewel case -- itís unusual in a number of other
respects. First the price; at just £700 or thereabouts it is the cheapest video
projector on the market; and it has a swivelling lens turret that turns through
90 degrees, so it could project an image on the ceiling, should you feel so
inclined. It works with almost any video system, including PAL, NTSC and SECAM,
plus thereís a built-in amplifier and loudspeaker, though with an audio output
of only 200 milliwatts itís not much louder than a small transistor radio. It does
have a stereo headphone socket though, so it could be used with a set of
your hopes up. The lamp is only rated at 25 watts, so although it can indeed
project a 50-inch picture, itís only viewable in near total darkness, on a high
reflectivity screen. Screen sizes of between 20 and 30-inches are closer to the
mark, though it still needs semi-dark conditions and a decent screen, to get
watchable results. The LCD element has around 100,000 pixels and the image
looks quite coarse, colours are somewhat brash but given its size it does surprisingly
well. It could be an interesting addition to the bedroom but itís certainly not
an alternative to serious domestic video projectors costing £2000 or more.
PLUS: A real cutie, a most unusual and innovative
design, easy to use, and in its own way, quite practical too. Provided your
expectations are realistic, picture quality -- on a high efficiency screen in
total darkness -- can be reasonable. For the record itís also the cheapest
video projector on the market.
no stretch of the imagination is this a substitute for a proper video
projector, or even a large screen TV. Viewing conditions are prohibitive, and
to get the most out of it youíll need an expensive screen. The sound system is
just about adequate for close monitoring, but not much else.
HI-FI UK LTD, Kingsbridge House, Padbury Oaks, 575-583 Bath Road, Longford,
Middx UB7 OEH. Telephone (0753) 680868
Ease of use 9
projector head swivels through 90 degrees, so you could have a picture on the
ceiling, handy for the bedroom maybe? Screen size can be anywhere from 3-inches
to 50-inches, though you will need a proper screen and a darkened room for
pictures much more than 20-inches across.
is created by a TFT active-matrix LCD panel with 100,000 picture elements.
Behind that thereís a 25 watt halogen lamp. Bulb life is quoted at only 500
hours, which is not very long; it would need replacing twice a year with only
modest use of three or four hours use a day.
the VP500 has a stereo audio input the on-board amplifier is mono, with a
relatively puny 200 milliwatts output -- about the same as a small table-top radio
-- it does have a stereo output, though, so it can be connected to powered
speakers or headphones.
It comes in
two parts, the upper projection unit containing the lens assembly and
loudspeaker can be detached from the power unit in the base. Thereís a threaded
collar on the underside, so it can be mounted on a tripod, and a screw hole, so
it can be fixed to a wall.
multi system capability and can work with PAL, SECAM and NTSC formatted video
signals; system switching is automatic. It has its own built-in mains power
unit, and it can also be powered by a car-battery, a 12-volt adaptor and
cigar-lighter plug is available as an optional extra
display, built-in amplifier and speaker, swivel lens, detachable projector head
unit, tripod mounting thread on base unit
output: mono 200mW
and stereo audio in (phono), headphones (minijack), DC power in and out
not a toy, the 30PC is a fully-featured video projector, but in miniature, in
fact itís not much larger than a couple of VHS cassettes stacked on top of one
another. Citizen have managed to pack a lot into a very small space. It has
twin speakers, an on-screen graphics display, switchable PAL/SECAM operation, even
a tiny fan to cool the 35 watt bulb. An optional plug-in TV tuner is available
for an extra £70. The single 1-inch LCD element has around 170,000 picture
elements (pixels), which is about the same as one of the better pocket TVs. Audio
performance is poor, but thatís only to be expected, and Citizen make no claims
to the contrary. Itís okay for personal use or monitoring but the sound needs
to be piped through a hi-fi amp and speakers for an audience of more than two.
is quoted at between 300 and 400 hours, which is pretty miserable but theyíre fairly
easy to replace and cost around £6.50. The maximum image size is put at 50-inches,
thatís just about achievable in complete darkness, on a high-performance
screen; in a semi-darkened room 30 inches is about as big as you would want to
go. Above 20-30 inches the image starts to looks very grainy -- itís a bit like
looking through a vegetable-strainer -- but colours remain bright and well
defined. With the optional tuner and a car-battery power cord the 30PC makes a
useful travelling companion, for caravanners and holidaymakers, but itís not
going to give the big boys any sleepless nights.
the job for campers and caravanners, who donít want to miss their favourite TV
programmes, but donít want to lug a TV around with them. Picture quality is surprisingly
good, a certain amount of grain is visible but on screen sizes of 30-inches or
less colours are crisp and there is a reasonable amount of detail
Picture and sound quality are not good enough for home cinema applications,
moreover, once you get over 30-inches it needs a high-efficiency screen to be
of any use. The quoted bulb life of 300-400 hours is on the mean side. An
optional car power adaptor would make a lot of sense.
Consultancy, Sterling House, Browning Street, Birmingham B16 8EH. Telephone
Ease of use 9
taking up less table-space than a VHS cassette. Itís simple to use too, with
only four control buttons and a simple on-screen display showing relative colour
and volume levels. A switch on the underside selects PAL or SECAM signal input.
Two miniature speakers are built into the sides
thereís a 1-inch LCD panel with 170,000 pixels. The light source is mounted
behind the LCD, this is a fan-cooled 12 volt/35 watt halogen bulb. Itís a
self-contained unit with an integral reflector. Bulb life is quoted at around
300 hours, replacement bulbs cost
supplied by an external 12 volt DC mains adaptor, which means it could also
work on a car battery, though the importers do not market a suitable adaptor
lead and plug. Connections to the outside world are made via a set of three
phono sockets on the back panel, for the video and stereo audio inputs.
A pair of
extending screw legs on the underside are used to adjust the projection angle.
The lens has to be focused manually, by rotating the collar at the front. All
other adjustments are made using the blue buttons on the top of the cabinet.
quality is not too bad at all, though larger images show a certain amount of Ďpixellationí
which some observers have likened to looking through a vegetable strainer.
Sound performance is better than you might expect from such small speakers,
though it has to compete with the internal cooling fan
display, built-in amplifier and speaker, PAL/SECAM compatible, soft carry case
and audio inputs (phono), DC input
bottom line... If youíre looking for a video projector that will give an
acceptable picture more than 30-inches across then keep looking, and reckon on
spending at least £2000. Neither the Citizen or Marantz projectors are suitable
for home cinema applications, unless your home is a broom cupboard. Of the two
the Marantz VP500 is the more interesting design, and the facility to project
an image onto the ceiling opens up all sorts of possibilities. The Citizen 30PC
has a slightly brighter, sharper picture though, and the sound is marginally
less tinny so on balance, itís just about worth the extra £100, though donít
forget, you can buy a proper big-screen stereo TV for between £700 and £800!
” R. Maybury 1995 0302