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Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Review

Video projector for home or on the go

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Box Closed

Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Box Closed

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector is designed to be used either at home or on the road. The Optoma ML500 combines DLP Pico chip and LED light source technologies to produce an image that is bright enough to be projected on a large surface or screen, but is compact enough to fit in a small carry bag, making it very mobile and easy to set up for home entertainment, gaming, presentation, and travel uses. Continue reading this review for more details and perspective. After reading this review, also be sure to check out my additional Optoma ML500 Product Photos and Video Performance Tests.

Product Overview

The features of the Optoma ML500 Mobile Projector include:

1. DLP Video Projector, using a DLP Pico Chip and LED light source Technology, with the ability to output up to 500 Lumens (ANSI) of light, 720p Native Resolution, and 120Hz refresh rate.

2. 3D Compatibility - Requires PC equipped with appropriate graphics card, and use of DLP Link Compatible Active Shutter 3D Glasses. Not compatible with 3D from Blu-ray Disc player or broadcast/cable.

3. Lens Characteristics: No Zoom. Manual focus via lens mounted focus dial.

4. Throw Ratio: 1.4:1 (Distance/Width)

5. Image size range: 17 to 180 inches.

6. Projection Distance: 20-inches to 214-inches.

7. Aspect Ratio: Native 16x10 - Can be set for both 16x9 and 4x3. The 16x9 aspect ratio is desirable for widescreen films and HD sources. The aspect ratio can be switched to 4x3 for projection of material shot in the 4x3 format.

8. Contrast Ratio: 3000:1 (full on/full off).

9. LED Light Source: Approx 20,000 hour lifespan.

10. Video Inputs and Other Connections: HDMI, VGA (PC Monitor), S-Video, Composite Video and both USB, mini USB port, and Audio in (3.5mm connector required).

11. Video Input Signal Support: Compatible with input resolutions up to 1080p. NTSC/PAL Compatible.

12. Video Processing: Video processing and upscaling to 720p for standard resolution signals. Downscaling to 720p for 1080i and 1080p input signals.

13. Audio Input Signal Support: Analog, MP3, AAC, WAV, FLAC, RA (real audio), OGG, PCM, ADPCM, WMA.

14. Office Viewer File Support: Microsoft PowerPoint (ppt, pptx), Word (doc, docx), Excel (xls, xlsx), Adobe (pdf).

15. Internal Memory: 2GB; SD slot supports up to 32GB SDHC Cards.

16. Controls: Manual Focus control, On-screen menu system for other functions. Wireless remote control provided.

17. Keystone Correction: Auto Vertical Keystone with manual override +/-40 deg (no horizontal or vertical lens shift functions).

18. Input Access: Automatic video input Detection. Manual video input selection also available via remote control or buttons on projector.

19. Speaker/Audio Amplifier: 2 Watt Mono.

20. Fan Noise: 28 db (standard mode) - 36 db.

21. Dimensions (WxHxD): 8.7-inches x 1.7-inches x 6.7-inches (220mm x 42.5mm x 170mm)

22. Weight: 2.5 lbs. (1.1 kg).

23. Power Consumption: 120 Watts max (Bright mode with multimedia function).

24. Included Accessories: Power Adapter, VGA Cable, USB-to-mini-USB adapter cable, Soft Carry Bag, Remote Control, Warranty Card.

25. Suggested Price: $699

For a close-up, physical, look at the Optoma ML500, also check out my Photo Profile.

ML500 Setup and Installation

Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Front View With Included Accessories

Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Front View With Included Accessories

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
To prepare the ML500 for use, first set up a screen, or choose a wall surface that the images are to be projected on. Then, position the unit anywhere from about 3 to 9 feet from the screen. The Optoma ML500 can be placed on a table or rack, a stable camera/camcorder tripod, or can even be ceiling mounted.

Next, plug in your source component(s) and turn one of them on, then turn on the projector. The Optoma ML500 will automatically search for the active input source. You can also access the source manually via the controls on the top of the projector or on the remote control.

At this point, you will see the screen light up. If mounted on a tripod, you can tilt and move the tripod to get the best viewing angle and image size for the screen. However, if you have the ML500 placed on a table or rack, you can use the front mounted adjustable foot to raise or lower the front of the projector to get the proper angle. However, if the projector to screen angle is not quite right, you can adjust the the geometric shape of the image using the Keystone Correction function via the onscreen menu system.

Keep in mind that the ML500 does not have horizontal or vertical lens shift functions, and the zoom function is digital, not optical, which may make the tripod setup option easier, in some cases, to position the projector properly. Try both the table and tripod placement methods and see what works best for you. The tripod method is also a great option when traveling.

Additional Components Used in This Review

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H Upscaling DVD Player.

Home Theater Receiver: Harman Kardon AVR147.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Audio/Video Cables: Accell and Atlona cables.

Projection Screen: Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 80-inch Mobile Screen.

Software Content Used in this Review

Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Rear View

Optoma ML500 LED/DLP Mobile Projector - Rear View

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The software used in this review included the following titles:

Blu-ray Discs: Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, Hairspray, Inception, Iron Man 1&2, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, The Dark Knight, The Incredibles, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Additional content from USB flash drives.

Proceed to Page 2: ML500 Video Performance, Audio, Media Player Functions, Final Take

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