Aimed at medium businesses and schools, NEC's new M352WS is a DLP projector that isn't your conventional looker. In fact, it more closely resembles a secret observatory, with its lens half-buried within that smooth exterior. See also Group test: what's the best projector?
But we shouldn't underestimate the abilities of this very fine projector, and that short-throw lens can create a very large image in a very short space. A 100in (2.54 m) image can be created at a distance of under a metre, for instance, and a picture half as large again can be produced at 1.5 metres.
That could makes this a particularly well-suited model for small and medium-sized boardrooms, and will also allow classrooms to glow with the full glory of DLP technology.
The projector’s specifications list an ample 3500 ANSI lumens to play with, a brightness rating that makes it highly flexible - slightly darkened rooms will always produce the best results, but it is possible to coax a clear image from this model even in daylight.
DLP technology isn't as bright as LCD, but the NEC still projects a good picture. A sophisticated ambient sensor can adjust the settings to suit the conditions. This worked well in practice, and you won't need to be fiddling with the controls every time the projector changes location.
However, the effect of the short-throw lens is immense, so you may feel the need to make adjustments if you're projecting a big image in a relatively small room.
The projector is moderately portable and weighs a totable 3.6 kg. As a model that can be moved from one room to the next, when needed, it makes perfect sense.
The NEC comes with the option of Multi-Pen support. We didn't have one of these to test, but it should add strong interactive whiteboard capabilities to the standard projector.
You also get the benefit of some excellent software.
The NEC has a LAN support, allowing it to be plugged into the network. Wireless LAN is an option.
DisplayNote allows the projector to be hooked up to tablets and smartphones. Naviset Administrator software lets you take control of the projector remotely, making it very easy for network administrators to check on devices.
You can use this model with 3D, and the decent array of ports and connectors also include a pair of HDMIs.
The 1280 x 800 native resolution isn't very high resolution by today’s standards, although it is quite suitable for a business/education projector - home cinema enthusiasts will find other models better suited to their needs.
Speakers are built in, and these are reasonably loud and clear. You'll want a meatier sound system for the decent results, but for boardroom effects, they're fine.
DLP technology is famed for its strong colour depth compared to LCD, and this is very much in evidence on the NEC M352WS, where moving images and stills are all rendered with remarkable colour.
The different shades are beautifully separated, and even awkward skin tones are reproduced with clarity. For presentations and pictures, the projector is an excellent model, and even relatively small text is easily read. The short throw lens means that images can be truly spectacular, and this will be a great riposte to those who believe projectors can only produce poky images in a standard business environment.
The noise levels are not kind to your environment, though, and the projector puts out a loud 39 dB at its brightest. Even in eco mode, it’s specified with an uncomfortable 33 dB. It is worth considering if you're planning to use it in a quiet location. See also Group test: what's the best projector?