When Nike's designers need to bust out a new pair of trainers, we strongly doubt they take inspiration from what Wall Street yuppies wear as they trudge into work. So why do so many projector makers keep taking business models and just slapping a shiny casing on to sell them as home cinema products?
That's why this is such a breath of fresh air - NEC has clearly thought about what people want from a living-room product. You get a slim unit that'll easily slot between two armchairs or look inconspicuous mounted on the ceiling, along with an easy one-handed up/down tilting mechanism.
But it doesn't stop there - there's a clever rocker foot at the back, so you can get the picture straight without having to wedge the thing up with a wad of paper. And then there's the pièce de résistance - this is one of the quietest DLP projectors we've heard, emitting just 26dB in eco mode, so it won't destroy your surround sound experience. Another nice touch is colour correction if you're shining the image onto an off-white wall.
The 1,024 x 576 resolution is superb, there's almost no evidence of the dreaded chicken wire, and contrast and brightness are both excellent. There are some nasty rainbow effects and occasional jagged edges, but both are improved when using the component inputs rather than S-Video or composite. The built-in speaker's rubbish, but most people aren't going to be using it anyway.
NEC should be commended for applying so much common sense to this design, and it's a solid choice if you want good performance without being lumbered with a box that's hard to set up and looks and sounds like an air conditioning unit.