NEC M311X Projector - A Great Mix of Features & Performance

Launch SRP: S$1299


Performance Matters

Thanks to the 1.7x zoom ratio (the lens is non-powered), the M311X offers a great deal of placement flexibility. Most of our tests were done on a 120-inch screen, which was easily achieved at a lens-to-screen distance of about 3.3m. For those of you intending to use it in a small cubicle, a modest 25-inch projection can be had as long you give it a minimum throwing distance of 0.65m.

If you’re using a VGA cable, you can press the ‘Auto Adj.’ button (present on both the projector cabinet and remote control) to let the projector optimize the image automatically. Now, while we always recommend using a proper projection screen, due to venue constraints (maybe you’re doing a presentation in a fancy restaurant), that’s not always possible. If you’re projecting on a surface that’s not white, colors will turn out incorrect. For a quick adaptive color correction, you can turn to the wall color correction presets in the setup menu; a total of nine presets are available, from blackboard to pink.

The M311X has a rated maximum brightness of 3,100 lumens. To get this level of light output, you’ve to be in High-Bright mode. Besides High-Bright, there are six other preset modes: Presentation, Video, Movie, Graphics, sRGB, and DICOM Sim. Most of these presets are self explanatory based on their names, save for DICOM Sim. Short for DICOM Simulation, this mode is geared for users who need to show accurate medical diagnostic images, such as monochrome digital X-rays, CAT and MRI scans.

If you want to nail down the best possible color and detail, there are a wealth of image parameters you can tweak. These include gamma correction, color temperature, white balance (by adjusting the contrast and brightness of each primary color), contrast (dynamic contrast using the built-in iris has a separate setting), brightness, sharpness, and hue. If your sources support it, the projector can also do closed captioning: this aids comprehension for the hearing-impaired, and is also useful for noisy environments like a trade show.

There’s no doubt that the M311X is a very bright projector. If you need the brightest possible image, besides engaging High-Bright mode, we suggest that you use the lens at the wide-angle end. That’s because light output will drop as you magnify the image. Of course, this isn’t unique to the M311X; it’s the same with all projectors. Thankfully, even at the furthest end, brightness didn’t dip a lot (about 22%). For a projector with a 1.7x zoom ratio, this was an excellent showing. Overall, screen uniformity was very good too. Typical of data projectors of this class, there was light drop off at the corners which resulted in slightly softer details (compared to the center of the image), but one would be hard pressed to notice it under normal circumstances.

Be it an analog or a digital input, the M311X had no problem dealing with a 1080p signal. Over an analog RGB connection, the maximum signal resolution it supports is WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200 pixels). With an HDMI connection, image quality was excellent. Expectedly, we saw none of the jitter than occasionally appeared when we used the VGA input. For data, we saw sharp text right down to 8pt Arial. Colors were well-saturated too. At about two meters away from the screen, we could see the pixel structure; this is in large part due to the projector’s relatively low resolution and its LCD nature. If that bothers you, trying sitting about twice the width of the image away from the screen.

Video performance was commendable too. There was slight detail crushing in shadow areas, but to be fair, the M311X was never meant to be a home theater or multimedia projector. That said, skin tones and foliage appeared natural. The slightly muted colors also lent well to movies. If you’re using an HDMI input and your source supports it, enabling the Enhanced video level setting may help in expanding black levels. The built-in 10W monaural speaker was pretty loud too, and should be sufficient for most small to medium-size boardrooms. To bring audio quality up a notch, you can use the audio out jack at the back to hook up to external speakers. In short, for non-critical video watching (for example, playing a YouTube video during a presentation, or an educational DVD in the classroom), the M311X has more than enough chops to handle it.

The Good
High brightness (3,100 lumens)
Flexible 1.7x zoom ratio
Plenty of connectivity options, including dual VGA and HDMI inputs
Good data and video image quality
Very long 10K hours lamp life in Eco mode
The Bad
Several tools not supported on the Mac (GCT, USB Display, remote mouse)
Slight color shift
Visible pixel structure at a close viewing distance