Let’s kick things off with a couple of numbers - one surprisingly big, one surprisingly small. The big one is the 3000 Lumens of brightness ViewSonic’s Pro8300 projector can churn out. The small one is the £909.60 price we’ve seen this projector going for. Such a combination of figures has simply never been seen before on a projector clearly described in its marketing materials as being capable of delivering ‘home entertainment’.
As soon as we received the projector for test, though, it became apparent that ViewSonic had perhaps been a bit optimistic with its home entertainment claims for the Pro8300. For the words ‘Business Projector’ are writ large across its box. Ah.
Business as usual
This wouldn’t be the first time ViewSonic has tried to claim universal usefulness for one of its high-brightness projectors, and the discovery that it appears to be first and foremost a business model quickly explains the high brightness level and low price combination. After all, business projectors are all about cheaply dishing up enough brightness to cut through the harsh lighting of your typical board room. Such key home theatre concerns as lots of contrast and a natural colour palette usually sit very low down on a business projector’s priority list.
Trying to put our professional heads on and ignore the feeling that ViewSonic had oversold the Pro8300's home cinema charms to us, the product itself actually ever so slowly managed to win us to its cause. A bit. And only once we’d actually figured out what that cause was.
For starters, it’s not a bad looking device for something not expressly designed with living rooms in mind. Its mixture of matt and gloss top panels is striking without looking fussy, and its got enough curves to avoid being just another dull black rectangle.
Even the vent grilles that wrap right around the projector’s body manage to look vaguely stylish rather than purely utilitarian.
Connections are up to snuff, meanwhile. It’s got two HDMIs, alongside D-Sub PC support, an S-Video input, a USB service port, a component video input, a composite video input, and even audio inputs.
These latter jacks feed into two 10W - 10W! - speakers built in to the Pro8300’s chassis, to provide a convenient option to having to connect your sources to some kind of external audio sustem. Obviously there are pretty significant issues with having sound coming out of a projector - not least the fact that it means audio appears potentially many metres away from the pictures it’s supposed to be accompanying! But while having speakers built-in will be of zero interest to movie fans, they could just about pass muster as a convenient audio accompaniment to a social sports-viewing occasion.
In fact it’s here that the Pro8300’s appeal, if it has any, will lie. For there’s a growing market out there - especially at the moment, with an insane summer of sport imminent - for ‘casual’ projectors designed for only occasional use in less than ideal room conditions.
By less than ideal conditions, we’re talking, of course, about rooms that aren’t completely blacked out. For any switched-on lights or uncurtained windows will inevitably greatly reduce the brightness and impact of any projected image. With this in mind, the Pro8300’s 3000 lumens of brightness suddenly starts to make all kinds of sense.