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A 50-inch video screen for less than 800! What's the catch? The Citizen 30PC video projector is a classic example of good things coming in little boxes...



If you've been putting off buying a large-screen TV in the belief that either the prices are going to come down, or someone is about to start flogging flat hang-on-the-wall screens, we've got some bad news for you. It's not going to happen. You'd better get used to the fact that a decent sized big-box TV --  33-inches or larger --  is going to set you back at least fifteen hundred quid, and that the biggest flat screen you could afford this side of a pools win is about four inches wide.


A couple of years ago LCD projectors were showing a lot of promise as affordable large-screen video displays but the rapid pace of development ground to a halt; the cheapest single-element projectors haven't dropped much below 1800, and the pictures still looks pretty dreadful. With the arrival of the Citizen PC30 the cost of owning an LCD video projector has tumbled, to less than 800, but what about picture quality? Sorry, more bad news. At full whack, even on a high-performance screen in total darkness the picture still looks as though it's been shot through a vegetable strainer, but that's rather missing the point.


The point is, it's a highly portable video display -- pocket-sized even -- certainly no bigger than a couple of paperback books, yet it can project an image up to 100-inches across. In practice 50-inches is about as big as you should go, 30-inches is better, but that's about the right sort of size for an AV display for a small audience of a dozen or so people. The bulb is only rated at 35 watts, so that means it's struggling in any kind of ambient light, but reduce the screen size between 20 and 30 inches and it can just about be seen in a dimly lit room. It's got sound too, there's a pair of miniature speakers set into the side of the cabinet but they're not very loud and rather tinny, fine for monitoring, but that's about it. Controls? What controls? There's an on/off button and a mode switch for setting brightness and volume, both are shown on a simple on-screen displays.


The 170k pixel LCD display element does a pretty good job, considering, and it can resolve quite fine detail. Colours tend to be rather unsubtle but it's fine for computer graphics, or cartoons, and normal TV and video if you're not too picky. So who would want to pay 800 for a big but not very good picture and dreadful sound?  It's clearly not much use for serious home cinema applications but it's got a promising future, as an AV display tool for commercial and educational users, maybe even pubs and clubs will find a use for it. If Citizen ever get around to marketing a 12-volt car battery cord (they say they're thinking about it) and publicise the fact they've got a compatible TV tuner in their LCD monitor range, it might also make a few friends amongst campers and caravanners.



PLUS              It's small, cute and it works, and at less than 800 it's the cheapest way to get a 50-inch video screen. Picture and sound aren't too bad, in fact considering the size of the thing it's remarkable!


MINUS           Picture quality isn't up to serious or prolonged video viewing and the tinny sound system will drive you mad after a while and although a 50-inch image is possible, you will need a pretty fancy screen for it to be usable


SOUND QUALITY                **

PICTURE QUALITY            ***

BUILD QUALITY                 ****

EASE OF USE                       *****

VALUE FOR MONEY          ***



GB Consultancy, Sterling House, Browning Street, Birmingham B16 8EH

021-456 5678



The PC30, comes in two parts, the projector unit, and the AC mains adaptor


Only four controls, an on/off switch,  mode button and up/down buttons for setting volume and brightness


The input socketry -- three phonos, for video and audio in, plus a four-pin socket for the mains adaptor


Beneath the lens there's a small levelling screw, to adjust the projector's height and angle, normally it would be mounted on a tripod


Underneath there's a small switch, to select PAL or SECAM operation


The lens can focus between 6-inches and 100 feet, though the largest practical screen size is around 50-inches (1.8 metres)



1994 1005


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