The ViewSonic M2e 1080p portable LED projector is one of the new breed of DLP LED projectors at the lower end of the cost spectrum. They are ideal for grey nomads and places where you need a large image for the least cost.
Nowhere is ‘you get what you pay for’ truer than with projectors. LED projectors start at a few hundred dollars and top out at around $1000. Up from that are replaceable halogen lamp DLP or LCD projectors and then lasers projectors costing a few thousand dollars.
The ViewSonic M2e has a few interesting features.
It can run off USB-C upstream power (5V/3A/15W power bank or any USB-C PD compatible charger, so it could be good for grey nomads)
Takes an ALT DP image from a USB-C 3.1 device like a compatible smartphone or computer
Play from USB-A Flash drive (5V/2A downstream power) or micro-SD (256GB)
HDMI 1.4 (1920×1080@60Hz) port
Wi-Fi 5Ghz, Chromecast, and Bluetooth 4.2 Receive and Transmit
Oh, and it is very portable with a nice carry case.
*ViewSonic Corporation is a privately held multinational electronics company with headquarters in Brea, California, United States and a research and development centre in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
What is a DLP LED projector?
It is essential to know what you are buying and to cut through the hype. This projector joins the ranks of the new ‘sealed unit LED’ now appearing in many brands low-to-mid-range models. And they come in every size and shape from pico (small) to desktop. These projectors typically have a half-life (50% brightness) of 20,000 hours at 100% brightness and 30,000 hours at 70% brightness. Then you throw them away.
All brands quote unrealistic brightness figures like 480, 720, 1000, 2000, 3000, 10,000 LED lumens. These are rubbish marketing hype figures. Technically you divide LED lumens by 2.4 to get another rubbery brightness figure called ANSI lumens (supposed light output). Then to convert to Nits (brightness at the screen or candela per square metre – cd/m2), you divide that by 3.426 to get a screen brightness (which varies according to the throw distance). No low-cost LED projector has 10,000 LED Lumens – they are quoting the LED bulb brightness and it comes back to about 200 ANSI Lumens
So, a 1000 LED lumen projector is 416.67 ANSI Lumens or 121.62 nits. Which is what the ViewSonic M2e is. Typically:
What are Lumens anyway?
For any device to be ‘readable’ and project any semblance of colours, it needs to exceed ambient light levels.
Direct sunlight Daylight is about 20,000-30,000 lumens (5,000-10,000 nits)
Office light is about 300-500 lumens (100-150 nits)
Inside ambient daylight is 200 lumens (70 nits)
Night light (dark) ranges from <10-50 lumens (3-15 nits)
Different devices have varying Nits
A computer monitor is about 200-300 nits
Standard LED smartphone 300-400 nits
Top of the range AMOLED smartphone about 800-1000nits
Standard TV SDR screen 200-300 nits (higher the better)
HDR/HDR10 400/600-800 nits
Dolby Vision TV needs about 1,000 nits, but some can go up to 4,000 peak brightness.
Add in resolution (HD/FHD/4K), contrast (difference between the darkest black and whitest white), the number of colours, % of movie gamut (DCI-P3), and refresh rates, and you can see there is a lot more to projecting an image.
This dissertation is to help you realise the limitations of any projector and if you know and can work within them, we have done our job. For now, it is probably easier to compare ANSI Lumens.
While this device can just defeat office light and project a reasonable image, it is way better in darkened rooms.
Having reviewed similar LED units from EZCast and Philips, we have experience with these entry-level LED projectors.
This looks quite nice, small (184 x 184 x 54mm x 1kg) with a polar white polycarbonate top and meteor grey sides. It has a variable stand to adjust the height and a TOF instant focus that can automatically reduce the key stoning of the image.
We won’t go through the setup menus as they are very comprehensive. You can read these in the manual.
Time of Flight is an IR laser. It sends out a beam and bounces it off the screen back to the receiver. That gives it information to help autofocus and auto-keystone correct.
Only keystone correction was not perfect when using the inbuilt stand and when the device was off centre. We needed to manually adjust the horizontal and vertical keystones. If the device is at a similar height to the centre of the screen, it is far better.
Colours and accuracy
While ViewSonic claims the LED unit can produce 1.07 billion colours (10-bit), a.k.a. Cinema SuperColor+ and, therefore, HDR (High Dynamic Range) compatible. Our test instruments show SDR (standard dynamic range) and 16.7m colours (8-bit). Indeed, Netflix plays 1080p SDR or lower res when we feed it HDR content.
You can play with pre-sets including brightest, TV (Sports), Movie (low light), Gaming or make your own User 1 or User 2 pre-sets. I suggest you use defaults and perhaps the Brightest setting if you use it under higher ambient light.
It also claims 125% Rec. 709 colour gamut (like 125% sRGB). That means about 80% DCI-P3, and in layperson’s terms, 20% of tonal variations disappear from the image. This raises the issue of screen type, which has more impact on the colours and image quality.
Get a screen
The projection ratio is 1.21:1 projection ratio .8 (30”) to 2.68m (100”). It can project in 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 formats. The longer the throw, the lower the screen brightness.
You will get an inferior image if you project onto a painted wall, curtains, or blinds. These surfaces absorb light, so you lose image brightness.
A proper projector screen is satin white (between matte and gloss) to minimise reflections. It has a gain factor of at least 1.0. In other words, if you throw 400 Lumens, it will reflect 400 Lumens. Typically, a 100” screen will cost $700-900 – motorised screens cost about $300-500 more.
Or you can try projector screen paint (we have not tried this). This paint needs to be latex-based, satin, neutral white (before any pigments). The trick here is to ensure the surface is smooth and ideally applied via spray paint (to avoid mottled roller finish). SmarterSurface has it at A$190 to cover about 6m2. It claims a gain factor of 1.0 and a viewing angle of 140°. If you have the right wall and light control, then it could be a low-cost option. It also has a Pro version (two-coat – primer and paint) that has a 1.1 gain for $286.
This device does not have colour compensation for different wall colours, so find the most neutral non-gloss white you can.
It is portable – it has a nice carry case too – so the issue of mounting is only when you want to set it up semi-permanently. Mind you; the power brick probably weighs more!
It has a ¼” tripod mount underneath as well as three screw-in feet (M4 x 8) that you could use for ceiling mounting. It can project forward or back of the screen and upside down.
But if you do, be aware that the IR remote receiver (one front and rear) needs a clear path to the IR remote control, which can work up to 8 metres away (we found it patchy past about 5 metres).
It has 2 x 3W Harman Kardon tuned speakers. Maximum Volume is 77.4dB (100%), and comfortable listening is about 70-80%. Both speakers face forwards, and there is no left/right sound stage. If you intend to use this in a permanent installation get a low-cost BT 2.0 soundbar.
Note: Frequency response is from 20Hz to 20kHz
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz
Middle Bass: 40-100Hz
High Bass: 100 to 200Hz
Starting late to build to 200Hz
Flat to 5KHz then gradually descending
High Treble: 6-10kHz
Controlled lineal descent to 10kHz
Dog whistle: 10-20kHz
Continued decent to 18kHz
This is Analytical (bass/mid recessed; treble boosted) – crisp but overly harsh and often unpleasant for most music. We used the pre-sets – Movie, Music and User (which allows +/- 5dB changes from 100Hz to 10000kHz). We could not get any more bass, but we could recess the treble and remove some harshness for a clearer voice.
HDMI 1.4 (note that Digital Right Management issues may prevent copyright material playing) with CEC for power on/off, but you will need the host remote and the projector remote.
USB-A 2.0 5V/2A (for flash drives and external SSD – will play some video and audio content) and can support keyboard/trackpad
USB-C 3.1 Type C for ALT DP and up-stream power – needs 15V/3A/45W PD
Micro SD Card Reader
3.5mm Audio Out
But one trick if you are trying to upstream power it – brightness drops to 60% of maximum.
HDMI is the most reliable, and you can get USB-C to HDMI cables as well. It carries audio and video content.
USB-C was tricky. You need a proper USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1 or 2 5/10Gbps cable with at least a 45W power source and ALT DP. Standard USB-C 2.0 480Mbps charging cables won’t work. It comes with a suitable cable, or look for the Zeus-X Pro – 6-in-1 USB everything cable and or Moshi cables worked. You can also use Thunderbolt 3 or 4 cables, but these are shorter. You can connect to devices that don’t have upstream power as long as the power brick is in use.
Wi-Fi 5GHz is for Chromecast of audio or video.
Micro-SD (256GB max), Flash Drive (256GB max) and USB SSD/HDD (2TB) are OK as long as they are in NTFS (2TB limit) or FAT32 format and don’t draw any more than 10W. There is a slight issue – Windows 10 only formats to 32GB in FAT32, and the maximum file size is 4GB. – use NTFS. These only play non-copyright material and audio/video codecs are limited.
BT – laggy
BT 4.2 (up to 1MBps) has both a Receive mode (you can use the speakers) and a Transmit mode (you can use external 1.0 or 2.0 speakers).
We experienced severe lag – close to 300ms (estimate) when connecting external speakers and several dropouts (mainly due to its shorter range). It is better to use the 3.5mm analogue 2.0 audio output to external speakers or connect to the source content device.
Apps – forget it
Aptoide app store is for these Android-based projectors (version 6 in this case). But in my opinion, it is dangerous as this requires sideloading APK files direct from the developers. It has 16GB storage (10GB free) for apps and firmware updates.
The power brick draws a maximum of 90W, about 240V/60W or 2 cents per hour.
If you have read this far, you will realise that 400 ANSI lumens is about the minimum we recommend for home or office use, then only in darkened areas. It is not a TV replacement, and for the price, you probably can get a 65” or more 4K LED/LCD TV
If I were buying, I would look for at least 1000 ANSI lumens (2000-3000 LED Lumens) and probably go to 4K, but that will cost around $3500 for its new X1000-4K+ LED projector with 2900 LED Lumens (1000 ANSI).
The ViewSonic M2e 1080p portable LED projector passes all our paradigms and tests for a LED Portable projector, and the three-year warranty is good. If you buy this, we strongly recommend a Google TV 4K dongle (or similar).
ViewSonic M2e 1080p portable LED projector
It is an excellent projector provided you know what this projector does and it fits your needs.
Value for money
Ease of use
Fair price for the quality and warranty
ToF autofocus and keystone is quick
USB-C 3.1 and 45W upstream power for grey nomads
It needs near dark conditions to reach near TV like colours