NEC M311X Projector - A Great Mix of Features & Performance

Launch SRP: S$1299


Simple to Use, Yet Highly Customizable

From a ‘cold’ power-up, it can take as fast as 30 seconds for the image to appear on the screen. During our testing, it typically took another minute to reach the set brightness and the fully ready state (which you can tell when the blue power indicator no longer blinks). If you need to adjust the height of the image, there’s a tilt foot (controlled by a lever) at the front edge of the unit; two extendable feet are situated toward the rear for adjusting the left and right tilt. There’s no need to worry about vertical keystone correction as the projector is configured to do it automatically (for up to ±30 degrees). However, unlike many of Epson’s business projectors which have a slider control on the device for doing horizontal keystone correction, there’s no easy way to do it on the NEC M311X. Yes, it’s possible, but you need to use the Image Express Utility Lite (IEU Lite) software on your computer. Alas, the Geometric Correction Tool in this software only supports Windows.

By default, the projector remembers the last video input source used, and attempts to use it again the next time. If it can’t detect the signal from the terminal it thinks you’re using, a message will appear on the screen asking you to check the connection. If you’re using a different input, what you need to do is to hit the Source button once for the projector to cycle through the inputs to detect the signal automatically. Expectedly, this default-to-last-used-input behavior is ideal if everyone is using the same connection to hook up to the projector (say, VGA out from a laptop). But if you’re always switching sources, we recommend going into the menu and change the 'Default Source Select' setting to 'Auto'. This tells the projector to search for an active input and display the first signal it finds.

When the projector can't detect a signal, it'll display this guide to remind you to check the connection.

Now, if you’re looking for the quickest way to turn on the projector, you've two options. One is to enable the ‘Direct Power On’ setting; the other is to enable the ‘Auto Power On (Comp1)’ setting. The former turns on the projector automatically when power is applied; the latter does the same thing when it detects a computer signal at the first VGA input.

With the M311X, you can simply yank the power cord to turn it off. Even when it’s powered off normally via the power button on the remote or the projector cabinet, there’s no need to wait for it to cool down before packing it into the bag. If you’re looking for a portable projector, these are good time-saving features to have.

Eco mode lowers power consumption by dropping brightness to about 60%. Normal Eco mode goes a bit brighter (80% brightness), and Auto Eco mode alternates between Normal Eco mode and Eco mode off automatically. You can have the projector turn itself off automatically after a set period of time if there's no signal received by any of the inputs.
When using a wireless LAN, the Easy Connection mode can help to lessen the frustration of configuring network settings when using the Image Express Utility Lite software. For eco-conscious users, besides checking how long the lamp and filter have been used, you can also find out the amount of carbon dioxide emission reduction.

Speaking of useful features, remember earlier we saw that the M311X has two different types of USB ports at the back? The one at the extreme left is a Type A USB port that accepts a USB flash memory device. Through the projector’s Viewer function, you can project image files stored on the drive. This means that you can do a presentation sans a computer. But there’s a caveat: The viewer only recognizes JPEG files. To minimize the inconvenience, NEC provides a piece of software (Viewer PPT Converter 3.0) to convert PowerPoint files into JPEG files.

To the right of the LAN port is a Type B USB port. Used in conjunction with the Image Express Utility Lite software, it lets you project images via a USB cable instead of a VGA cable. With this USB Display function, you can power on or off the projector and do source selection directly from the computer. In addition, you can control your computer’s mouse using the projector’s remote control. You can scroll, advance a slide, move the mouse cursor, and even perform left and right-click actions. The bad news however is that both USB Display and remote mouse are Windows-only features.

Regarding network connectivity, the M311X has a RJ-45 port, so you can connect a LAN cable from your router or access point directly to it. The usual fare of LAN settings such as DHCP, IP address, subnet mask, gateway, and auto DNS options can be found in the menu. Projector control over a network is also possible via an Internet browser (using an HTTP server function). Alternatively, you can use the bundled PC Control Utility Pro software to operate the projector from the computer. For projecting an image over a wired or wireless LAN (the latter requires the optional NP02LM2 USB wireless LAN unit which costs S$129), Image Express Utility Lite is the go-to software. One noteworthy feature here is the Easy Connection profile, which is available when you're doing a wireless connection. This mode attempts to simplify network settings and connect the computer to the projector automatically.

We like that the remote control has dedicated buttons for the different input sources. The AV Mute and Eco buttons on the projector cabinet are also replicated on the remote. Furthermore, the same remote can be used to operate multiple projectors.

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