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Projectors You'd Be Bright to Take on the Road

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Go on, be wild. This fall, let's actually sell something with one of the new generation of mobile small-business projectors.

If a picture's worth a thousand words, a moving picture is definitely worth $1,000. And considering the imaging Dell (DELL - Get Report), NEC, Samsung and Optoma have been near-magically able to bake into sub-$1,000, so-called mobile projectors, I am sort of bummed to see so many stinky old imaging clunkers rattling about here in small-business world.

Mobiles should not be confused with the smaller pico projectors or larger in-office models. Mobiles, rather, start at about 3 pounds and 9 by 7 inches. They can fit in your luggage but pack enough imaging punch to turn any old laptop PowerPoint file into a legit, sales-worthy, 6-foot diagonal image.

This mix of portability and utility makes mobile projectors my fall tech sleeper technology for small businesses. Here's my picks of the mobile imaging litter.

Dell M210X (Price: $750) For all of Dell's by-now famous issues, imaging is not one of them. The company makes a solid line of displays and projectors. I was particularly impressed with the M201X, which came out this year. This roughly 2-pound unit projects a decent 2,000-lumen picture, or more than enough brightness to watch Avatar in broad daylight. The projector also sports all the video and audio connectors you might face out on the road. And it uses a crisp Digital Light Processing chip technology from Texas Instruments (TXN) that renders a high-quality 1,024 by 768 picture. Dell claims you can get a 300-plus inch image with the M201X, but 80 inches is about as big as I would recommend. The M210X is also 3D capable, making it potentially the hit of the yearly holiday party.

NEC NP43 (Price: $899) A bit beefier, the NEC comes in at about 4 pounds, with an enclosure that's about 10 by 7 inches. The NP43 pumps out a healthy 2,300 lumens, which can approach cinema quality in the right circumstances. All this oomph comes at the expense of lamp noise, though. The fans, while not awful, can be heard with this unit. On the plus side again, the solid support for international imaging standards is worthy of note. Not only do North American specs such as NTSC look good; the NEC NP43 also does a nice job with international imaging formats suich as PAL and SECAM. For overseas sales people, that is a nice gimmie indeed.

Optoma GameTime GT700 (Price: $749) If you are looking for a sleeper in this sleeper category, it is the Optoma GameTime GT700 portable projector. The thing is clearly aimed at the kinder out there, with a slick black form factor and a not-light 6 pounds. But the GameTime generates some serious images: It has high-quality, so-called WXGA, or 1,280 x 800 resolution. And it renders that up to a not-bad 120-inch diagonal picture from just 6 feet! Sure, you're not getting the smoothest images here. An image this big and bright is bound to be gritty when compared with pricier projectors. But ladies and gentleman, you are getting a 10-foot presentation for a street price down near $700. If you have anything to sell at all, people are going to be able to see it with the GameTime GT700.

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Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on Fox News and The WB.

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