HP Notebook Projection Companion review

The HP Notebook Projection Companion is designed to be the portable projector your travel with when you need more than a pico projector, but without the weight of a large and bulky projector. The innards of the Projector Companion offer enough brightness and resolution for a successful presentation in a medium size conference room. As I showed last week, the combination of this projector and a small HP Netbook computer can make for a really small “mobile office“.

So – lets take a brief look at its video performance, and see whether it really can become the newest part of your road warrior lineup.

The projector itself comes in a nice leather carrying case, with room for the video cable. As you can see, if you carry it in a laptop bag, there will be plenty of space for your other gear. The projector uses the same power adapter found on most HP notebook and netbook machines, so if you have enough battery life in your computer, you’ll be able to run a presentation with just one power supply.

The menu system of the Notebook Projection Companion is easy to use – thanks to the large D-Pad control on top of the unit. Setting are impressive – and include professional things like Keystone, a first (for me) on any portable projector. Other settings allow for color adjustments.

Once you make the image really large, you obviously lose some of the brightness and contrast – in my test, I used an 800×600 input signal and was able to get the image up to about 90 inches (diagonal) before it became too dim. This test was in a partially dimmed room. In a bright room, images stay excellent up to about 50″.

Of course, the projector is just at home showing video as it is with PC signals – which means you can do video demonstrations, or project a movie on your hotel room wall at the end of a long day. Thanks to its composite input, you can also hook up an iPod, iPhone or other video capable device – though you will need your own speaker as the Projection Companion lacks its own audio output.

Specifications / performance

The HP Notebook Projection Companion is powered by a Texas Instruments DLP projection chip – capable of projecting at 858×600 pixels. Its brightness is an impressive 100 lumens. At a mere 0.9 lbs, it weighs very little – especially when compared to a larger projector. In the image above, the screen is about 70 inches diagonal. Not only is weight kept to a minimum, but sound (from the fan) and heat at not really an issue at all. After an hour of usage, the projector was warm, but only needed 5 minutes to completely cool down.

Target audience

Portable projectors in this price range are finally all grown up – they are now at the point where you can carry one of these instead of a bulkier unit. The HP Notebook Projection Companion is obviously perfect for anyone who does a lot of work on the road. If your work involves presentations all around the world, the Notebook Projection Companion will shave a lot of weight off your baggage (plus it’ll make you look pretty slick).

Final thoughts

The HP Notebook Projection Companion lacks a lot of features found on some current portable projectors – during a conversation with the product manager, I learned that the “companion” part of the product description is more than just a snazzy name. The Notebook Projection Companion is designed to be a true companion for your computer – and you can only get one when your order it with an HP Notebook.

This obviously explains the lack of a battery for the projector, and why it does not come with a remote control. Personally I would have liked to see things like an HDMI input, speaker, USB media player, remote control and battery option – but I can’t blame HP for not including these when they really only focused on designing a projector to sit next to a laptop to help with a presentation.

At the end of the day, all you really need from a projector is perfect image quality – and HP delivered above and beyond. The picture quality on the Notebook Projection Companion is excellent and the entire package shows that the design is “business class”. The projector feels very well built, and is fully enclosed in an aluminum case.

Inside the box is the projector, VGA/Composite video cable, power adapter, mini tripod and a user guide. The HP Notebook Projection Companion costs $499 and is available from HP – but only as an accessory when ordered along with a variety of HP Business Notebook computers.

Create the ultimate lightweight mobile office with this trio of HP gear

With a little over three pounds of electronics, you can create the perfect mobile office for living the “Up In The Air” lifestyle. The kit we will be reviewing next week consists of the new HP Mini 5102 netbook, the HP Notebook Projection Companion and the HP slim travel adapter.

We’ll be taking this trio on a real business trip to determine whether it really can replace your bulky laptop and massive video projector – and whether you’ll actually be able to show up at an office and fire all the staff without them laughing at you.

So, check back next week to see if this good looking kit can become your new office, and whether lighter really is better when it comes to mobile electronics.