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For larger gatherings, look to the Epson Powerlite 1761W

The biggest drawback with LED projectors is that they have limited brightness. If you need something for a larger gathering or a larger room, some very good, and very light, portable projectors with conventional lamps are available. One example is the Epson Powerlite 1761W (Est. $800) . With a brightness rating of 2,600 lumens and a WXGA resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, the 1761W earns an Editors' Choice award at PCMag.com and good user reviews at Amazon.com and elsewhere.

Weighing just 3.7 pounds, the Epson Powerlite 1761W is still light enough to be easy to travel with, and its relatively modest dimensions (11.5 by 8.3 by 1.7 inches, excluding its feet) are reasonably briefcase-friendly, though a soft carrying case comes standard. Connectivity is robust, including HDMI (though there's no HDMI cable in the box). There's also Wi-Fi support via an included module. If you want to skip the laptop, the projector can run presentations from a USB thumb drive. The conventional lamp is rated for 4,000 hours; the replacement lamp costs around $120.

Rated brightness is one thing; real-world performance is another. PCMag.com's Tony Hoffman projects a 70-inch image from seven feet away and says that "the image was bright enough to tolerate a fair amount of ambient light without degradation." Data quality is said to be "very good" for a business-class projector, and video performance is good enough for non-critical movie watching. One plus is that this projector uses LCD technology, so it's free from DLP's Rainbow Effect. Sound quality is good, but the one-watt speaker means that you'll want an external sound source for anything more than a mid-sized conference room, Hoffman says.

User reviews are not extensive, but are fairly complimentary. At Amazon.com, the Epson Powerlite 1761W earns a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Complaints are modest, but one user is disappointed that drivers are not available for wireless operation with a Mac.

The Optoma W304M (Est. $800) is another consideration at around the same price. On the plus side, the W304M is slightly lighter (3.5 pounds) and a bit brighter (3,100 lumens) than the Epson projector. It's also 3D ready, though you'll need to get your own DLP-Link glasses if you care about that. On the downside, there's no Wi-Fi support included, but an optional wireless VGA dongle (Est. $120) is available to allow you to display presentations stored on your smartphone or tablet. Otherwise, since this projector can't read files from a USB drive, a laptop is a must for presentations.

WXGA video quality is excellent for data, but less so for video clips due to the W304M's susceptibility to Rainbow Effect (this is a DLP projector). Sound quality and volume is uniformly described as "weak," so you'll want to add your own sound system/powered speakers for larger gatherings. Lamp life is rated at 4,000 hours, but a lower-brightness ECO mode can extend that to 5,000 hours; replacement lamps cost around $210.

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