The brochure tells the story in a lurid red headline: 'perfect for business, schools and even home entertainment'. Yes, this is another model that takes advantages of the economies of scale to launch a projector at a bargain price intended to appeal to the beer budget home cinema market but is essentially a data projector.

This explains the native 1024 x 768 resolution from its DLP optical engine, which corresponds to the usual desktop settings of most computers. Of course the chip can display a 16:9 picture anamorphically, and mask off the area just above and below the main picture, but this leaves patches of darkish grey.

Like other recent budget data DLPs, it's a powerful beast, with an output of 2000 ANSI Lumens, and a contrast ratio of 2000:1. In its lower (eco) output mode, the lamp should be good for about 3000 hours.

Interconnections are very obviously office-centric.You get composite and S-video of course, but component video is only accepted by a pair of computerstyle D-Sub connectors.

Other connections include USB and eight-pin serial controls sockets, even audio in and outputs,which are about as much use for home cinema as a chocolate teapot.

The menu system is concise and straightforward, and allows adequate access to settings that will customise the projector for whatever you want to do. But there are no instantly accessible user modes such as you find on some budget projectors.

Performance

The cooling system is a little noisy with some whine from the colour wheel, and the casework leaks light in several directions.The optical system,too,lacks sophistication. If you're sensitive to the pseudo random colour flashes you can get under some conditions, the Mitsubishi does little to help. But what it lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in raw power.

It's quite astonishing how bright and punchy a modern budget DLP can be. With the lamp on its brighter setting, there is enough power to provide a well-lit picture even in rooms with some ambient lighting. And although deep shadow detail tends to be blocked out, the back level is impressively deep, so you don't see area of washed out midgreys, the bane of earlier DLPs.

Colour reproduction is surprisingly good. The output is clean, rich and well saturated, although it's a little crude and exaggerated using the data settings, but it calms down nicely when tuned for home cinema purposes.

As often occurs with this class of projector, the handling of motion artefacts is rather crude, with moving areas of background, for example, becoming very noisy, with a blocky overall appearance as the electronics struggle to keep up.This level of projector simply doesn't come with the classy Faroudja (or other) video processing that is par for the course with true home cinema models, but as always, you get what you pay for.

In short, the EX100U is a good projector for its type, and excellent value, with the bright, contrasty picture helping you forgive some of its subtle limitations. Alvin Gold