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Boxlight SP-45M LCD Projector review: Boxlight SP-45M LCD Projector

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The Good Inexpensive; good two-year warranty; runs quietly and coolly; rich Web site resources.

The Bad Heavy; inferior brightness; complicated control panel; focusing is awkward; remote lacks laser pointer.

The Bottom Line The SP-45m may be inexpensive, but its disappointing image quality and quirky design make it less of a bargain.

6.2 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 4
  • Support 8

Review summary

Bigger is supposed to mean brighter, at least when it comes to projectors, but the Boxlight SP-45m SVGA projector disproves the maxim. This LCD projector weighs in at a hefty six pounds, but it delivers one of the lowest brightness ratings of the projectors in its class. Its complicated control panel and recessed focus ring make setup needlessly difficult. The SP-45m does offer an excellent variety of features and abilities for its sub-$1,000 price tag, and it scores points with excellent after-sale services. Unfortunately, the competition is lighter, brighter, and better designed.

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.

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