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The jet-black Boxlight SP-45m is one of the bulkier projectors we've tested, measuring 10.2 by 11.9 by 3.7 inches (W, D, H) and weighing 5.8 pounds. Pack the cables, the remote, and the projector into the included canvas bag, and the travel weight totals 6.6 pounds.
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It is portable, but the Boxlight SP-45m is fairly large and bulky.
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The SP-45m's recessed focus ring is difficult to grip.
Physically adjusting the SP-45m can be awkward. A pop-out front leg can elevate the projector by about two inches. A single threaded back leg is adjustable for balance. Focusing is a chore, though, because the recessed focus ring is difficult to grip.
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The Boxlight's 13 buttons are haphazardly placed.
Rather than the traditional X-shaped arrangement of buttons on the projector's control panel, the SP-45m offers 13 buttons organized in no particular pattern, none of which are lighted. Use the Picture button to adjust the keystone correction, the contrast, the brightness, and the aspect ratio; and choose among programming presets, such as Film, Presentation, and Photo. More-advanced settings include color temperature, phase tracking, and horizontal and vertical image positioning. Unfortunately, the settings for color, tint, and sharpness are all grayed out (the SP-45m shares a menu structure and design with more expensive projectors that include these features).
The SP-45m has plenty of room for ports. Most are located on the back of the projector in a compact, color-coded, and functional plug panel.
The SP-45m includes connectors for VGA, composite audio-visual (with a miniplug converter for audio), S-Video, USB, PS/2, and an audio patch cord. It comes with U.S. and European power cables, as well. The SP-45m also has a VGA pass-through so that it can power a second projector or a monitor. The projector's USB and PS/2 outlets can control a notebook's pointer, but the projector doesn't come with these cables. Two windows on the projector's front and back let it stay in contact with the remote control's IR window from any angle.
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Plenty of connectors.
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The remote mirrors the projector's control panel but lacks a laser pointer.
The Boxlight SP-45m can handle VGA to SXGA resolutions, but it looks best in its native 800x600-pixel (SVGA) resolution. It has a 1.2X optical-zoom lens for framing, as well as a digital zoom for zeroing in on details. The SP-45m's largest legible screen projection is only 17 feet (diagonal)--the smallest of any projector we tested. It can project a one-meter diagonal image from a reasonable distance of 6.7 feet; 6.5 feet is about average for its class.
The remote control lacks a laser pointer but is otherwise adequate. It mirrors the projector's control panel, adding a pointing stick and mouse buttons. It can also blank the screen and initiate special effects, such as picture-in-picture. The buttons are backlit, and a side switch lets you turn the backlighting on and off.
The SP-45m's lamp has an estimated life of 2,000 hours, but the Change Lamp light comes on after 1,980 hours of actual use. Changing the lamp module takes a couple of minutes, and you'll need a screwdriver. Replacement lamps sell for a relatively inexpensive $350.
The Boxlight SP-45m performed disappointingly in our tests. Its 664 ANSI lumens brightness reading is well short of its 1,000 ANSI lumens spec. Its contrast ratio of 212:1 is just more than half of its 400:1 spec. Its 79 percent uniformity score is the lowest among the LCD projectors we've tested.
The SP-45m's imaging quality was adequate. It capably showed 247 of the 255 standard grayscale tones without annoying flicker, but it did succumb to interlace flicker in one of our test screens. Its color temperature of 6,367 degrees kelvin makes its light the warmest of the six. In our color tests, the greens were shifted slightly to the yellow, while reds had a minor orange tint.
This projector is ill-suited for home-theater use for several reasons. A small hot spot at the center of the screen makes videos look odd. The SP-45m displayed DVD sequences smoothly, with excellent sound synchronization, but the images had a green cast to them. The pronounced background grid, a frequent complaint about LCD projectors, can be distracting when watching movies. Finally, the SP-45m leaks a lot of light out of the back of its case.
At least the SP-45m was one of the quietest (37.9 decibels) and coolest (147 degrees Fahrenheit) projectors in its class. It also gets off the mark quickly, with a 34-second start-up time, but it takes a relatively long 1 minute, 26 seconds to shut down.
The SP-45m comes with a two-year warranty on parts and labor, which is midrange coverage for its class. The lamp is covered for 120 days or 500 hours of use.
Boxlight's Web site includes a wealth of resources for mobile presenters, including buying guides, tips and tricks, and an exceedingly helpful glossary. You can download free PowerPoint backgrounds and themes, or, for a fee, the company will help you with your presentation. The Web site also includes a downloadable version of the skimpy, 33-page manual; general FAQs; and troubleshooting for specific models.
Boxlight offers 24/7 toll-free phone and e-mail support. In our test call, they responded helpfully after we were on hold for about five minutes. If you're stuck without a working projector, the company can help come up with a loaner, a service none of the other major competitors provides.