I have used the new Artograph Digital Art Projector, model LED200, enough now that I will attempt to write a review for it.
First of all, I thought that the weight in the specification could not possibly be correct. However, the projector and the lens cap, without the cords, etc. weighs in at just 1 pound, 12.3 ounces! It is about the size of a thick paperback book, and is an attractive deep blue.
Here is a picture of it from the top, looking down.
This projector uses something called PhlatLight technology, which is the latest type of solid state light source. It combines the benefits of both LED and laser technologies, in order to give you high brightness and the efficient harnessing of light from a small source. Often, projector light bulbs burn out very quickly, then are very expensive to replace. The PhlatLight LED's have a low failure rate, and a median lifetime of over 30,000 hours. A typical projection lamp burns out after 2,000-6,000 hours, and many contain mercury, a toxic waste to dispose of. The new Artograph LED200 is more environmentally friendly, and it is also supposed to consume 60% less power.
Most digital projectors require a computer in order to view photos. However, the LED200 allows you to put your pictures on a Flash Drive, and plug that directly into the projector, totally independent of your computer. It also comes with a USB card reader, and RGB cables to connect it to your computer. You can also download images directly from your camera to the projector.
This projector will do several things that ordinary digital projectors do not do. First of all, you can turn on a grid, and define the shape of the grid as well as the color. This would be a big help if you are using the projector to get a picture gridded, that you plan to draw by grid method freehand. It also helps to make sure the projector is flat to the screen, because if the grid is distorted, you need to adjust the angle of your paper or the projector.
Next, you can select to view the pictures in black and white. This is fantastic that you do not have to go through the extra step of converting them to B & W in something like Photoshop before viewing. It allows you to see the values of pictures that you are trying to decide to draw, helping you to have a better composition before you even start. And of course, you can switch it back to color to view the images.
There are also options to change the rotation of the image. And if you are troubled by the shadow of your hand, you can project the image backwards onto a 140# piece of watercolor paper taped to a clear sheet of acrylic, and the projector is powerful enough to show you the picture through the paper (this is called back-projecting).
The projector comes with the following: the digital projector with lens cap, remote control, power supply, RGB-to-computer and component-to-RGB cables, multi-card USB card reader, operation manuals, and a storage bag.
The resolution of the LED200 is SVGA 600x800 at a 4:3 aspect ratio, though it will display higher resolutions. Attached to the computer there is more flexibility than when you use a flash drive. And you experience some loss of detail due to compression algorithms (resulting in a slightly grainy image when a picture is enlarged to 'full sheet' watercolor paper size.
You can also play background music with the projector, and adjust the contrast. I like being able to keep the projector and image on, but turn the projector lamp off, in order to take a break from drawing. You move the projector back and forth to increase or decrease the size, then focus the projector when you have the correct size with a focus dial on the side of the projector, near the lens. There are many features that I have not used yet as well!
There are a couple of things that will likely be improved in future releases. First of all, you have to select B&W in one menu, then go to a different place to select your pictures. So all of your pictures will be viewed in B&W until you exit that menu and go back to change it to color. Ditto with the grid. However, this really only takes a bit of time to get used to, and not much delay for the user. The bag that came with the projector really is not large enough to store all the cords and cables, and could have used some padding to protect the projector. If you travel with it, you will certainly want to buy a more padded bag. The lens cap is almost clear- so you can actually see fairly well with it on. I have forgotten to take it off more than once, then wondered why my menu was a bit blurry. I think a classic opaque cap would have been a better choice- then it is rather obvious when you have left it on!
In short though, if you long for detailed paintings that are big, you should be very happy with this projector. It can do more for helping you get a good composition down on paper than any standard digital projector, and puts all of the opaque (paper) projectors to shame. The company is also happy to hear suggestions for how to improve their future models, always a plus.
Let's keep the discussion to digital projector use, not the arguments about whether to use one or not!