Viewsonic PJ506D

Light, bright and portable.

Viewsonic’s PJ506D sits in a crowded line-up, with no less than eight other portable projectors from the same company making choices difficult. It handles simple tasks with ease, but if you’re looking for high-resolution projection or an ultra-portable model you’re out of luck.

The PJ506D has similar styling to its more advanced sibling, the PJ551D. A recessed lens is placed off to the left-hand side of the unit, with a surrounding matte black and silver finish. Like the PJ551D it’s roughly the width and length of an A4 sheet of paper, although it’s a rather bulky 10cm in height.

It has a standard range of business connections, with composite, component, S-Video and VGA jacks available. There’s no trace of a digital connection like HDMI or DVI — disappointing considering Dell is able to bundle HDMI into the attractive package of its M209X.

At the very least, it’s simple to use. The PJ506D can be set up in a wide variety of positions — on a ceiling and to the front or rear of a projector screen. Its short throw range means it is able to project a sharp 25in image from only a metre away, while at a maximum distance and zoom of 10m the projected image reaches a slightly-below-average 285in. An adjustable set of legs means it can be set up on a sloped or uneven surface, although the small surface area of the pads on the projector’s feet might lead to it slipping down a slope.

The controls are simple. The buttons are well-weighted and easy to press while the circular dial setup means it’s easy to navigate through in a dark room. A small remote is also included in the sales package and can be used from all angles around the projector.

Like the controls, the graphical user interface is set out in a way that makes browsing through menus and accessing information easy. There’s a large range of options available to the end user, ranging from brightness and contrast alteration to colour temperature preset switching. If you’re setting up the projector in a particularly harsh or bright environment, this could be a definite positive.

The projector’s native resolution is 800x600, which is certainly on the low side when compared to other models; both the Dell M209X and Viewsonic’s own PJ551D have a resolution of 1024x768. The PJ506D isn’t fantastic at scaling content either, with 1024x768 presentations taking on a decidedly jagged and rough look. The projector purports to support widescreen resolutions, including high-definition 720p and 1080i signals, but switching the projector to widescreen mode comes at the cost of significant screen real estate. Downscaling was jagged and ridden with artefacts, making the PJ506D a poor choice for displaying higher-resolution content.

A contrast ratio of 2000:1 is roughly on par with competitors, allowing for the majority of pictures and videos to be displayed with reasonable depth and detail. We found that when viewing certain high-resolution photos significant detail was lost in darker areas; this shouldn’t be an issue if the PJ506D is restricted to its role of business presentations. In full brightness mode the device is capable of outputting 2000 lumens, which is standard for portable models.

Thankfully ambient noise levels were great — a by-product of large fans and a large chassis. Switching to the low light mode on the projector further quietened the system fan, which only needed to run for around 10 seconds after the projector was powered down.