Inside the rounded black-and-gray case is the latest Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging engine from Texas Instruments that creates XGA images. The projector weighs a light 3.8 pounds and measures 2.9 by 9.9 by 8.3 inches, putting it on a par with Epson's PowerLite 765c, which is on the smaller end of the portable category. The HP mp3320 comes with a padded case, a small remote control, and basic cables. Its 6-pound travel weight is a full pound less than the Epson PowerLite 765c.
A unique, slide-open cap protects the lens, and we like this design better than the string-attached caps we see on most projectors. Focus and zoom dials are easy to spot on top of the projector, but the image loses its focus as it is zoomed in and out, which makes quick adjustments frustrating. The HP mp3320 projects sharp, clean images ranging from 2 to 24 feet (diagonal), and it can project 4:3 computer images as well as wide-screen images. Unfortunately, the HP mp3320 lacks the automatic keystone correction that is commonplace in this class of projectors; however, its manual keystone control is easy to access in the onscreen menu, and it let us quickly achieve a square image in our tests. Along the back are connectors for VGA, composite, S-Video, audio, and a four-pin USB port.
The projector took 1 minute, 6 seconds to get an image onscreen, which isn't too terribly long but nowhere near as fast as the Epson PowerLite 765c's 23-second start-up time. The HP mp3320 can be shut down in only 16 seconds, making it a good choice for a quick getaway. Its control panel has buttons for power and menu and for choosing whether you want top brightness for a lights-on presentation or lower output for showing video. The projector also features LED warning lights for lamp life and overheating, but be warned: this is one hot projector; its exhaust topped 250 degrees Fahrenheit--we consider anything over 150 degrees too hot. While we love that the tiny remote control mimics the projector's panel and has page-forward and page-back buttons, it lacks a laser pointer; HP sells a larger, laser-equipped remote for $80.
In our tests, the mp3320 put a dazzling 2,408 lumens on the screen, easily outshining its peers. Even in low-power mode, the projector still pumped out 1,401 lumens, making it brighter than most entry-level projectors at full power. And even at its brightest settings, the HP mp3320 is one of the quietest projectors on the market. A 487:1 contrast ratio provided crisp whites and clear, readable text. We noticed a fair amount of light leakage, and the projector suffered from a subpar uniformity of 67 percent, whereas most projectors have at least 75 percent uniformity. Also, our test unit failed to produce a column of pixels on the image's left side. The projector's five-segment color wheel adds a yellow component to the traditional red, blue, green, and clear sections, but it fails to improve color balance. With accurate reds and blues, its downfall is a color temperature that is too warm and greens that look too yellowish. In addition, many of its midtone grays have a greenish look to them.
The HP mp3320's 200-watt lamp module costs $350 to replace and lasts an estimated 4,000 hours. Replacing the lamp is easy but requires loosening four screws. Maintenance included, the HP mp3320 costs an economical 8.75 cents per hour of use. Add in its estimated annual power costs of $11.30 (based on 500 hours per year), and you have a projector that doesn't break the bank.
HP includes a one-year warranty, two years less than industry standard, and the lamp is covered for 90 days or 500 hours of use. You can upgrade to three years of coverage for $200. The company's Web site is a cornucopia of resources with troubleshooting, installation, and set-up help as well as up-to-date downloads. There's a prominent e-mail link to HP's tech-support crew as well as a 24-hour toll-free hotline.