Samsung SP-F10M projector review
The Samsung SP-F10M is notable because it is an LED projector that breaks the 1000 ANSI lumen barrier, meaning it is cost effective (to run) as well as being powerful enough to use in most situations. It is pitched as a business model and has a range of business-friendly features.
Some might be tempted to deploy the SP-F10M as a home cinema projector, but the fans that keep the thing cool will instantly argue with you. It is boardroom noisy which makes it pretty much unsuitable for watching home movies. That and the fact that the resolution is natively 1024 x 768 pixels, so it won't really do your high-def sources the full justice they deserve.
From a design point of view there is little to note. It measures 30.7 x 28.7 x 10.1cm, fairly average dimensions for a business projector. It weighs 4.2kg, so is something of a hefty lump, not really portable but easy enough to move around the office, or throw in the back of a car.
Major controls lie on the top of the projector, including manual zoom and focus levels, which are accessible and easy to change, making setup a breeze. A packed remote provides a wide range of controls, including vertical keystone adjustment, alongside auto keystone correction which we found worked well enough for table top use. Two adjustable feet at the front provide a modicum of adjustment.
Firstly a note on the power cord, which someone didn't think about. The supplied power cable has a 90 degree bend and the socket is at the bottom of the projector, so once you plug it in, the cable heads straight onto the surface the projector is sitting on and you have to bend the molding of the plug to get it to sit flat. A minor detail, but we felt it was worth pointing out.
So all the connections reside on the rear of the SP-F10M and you get a healthy selection. There is the usual inputs VGA, HDMI and Composite video; you also get S-Video and inputs for stereo audio, as well as the HDMI carrying an audio stream if your source has it. You also get PC (VGA) and audio outputs. Finally there is an Ethernet connection and a USB connection.
The array of connections means you can pretty much attach anything to it, so no matter what the source, you should be able to get it to project. HDMI will likely be the choice from modern notebooks or even direct from cameras or camcorders. VGA will support most modern and legacy computer equipment, whilst the Composite video will handle older analogue sources. The Ethernet connection offers "network management" but we couldn't get it to do anything – we have asked Samsung about this feature and will update if we get an answer.
The onboard speaker makes a reasonable job of handling your audio track – it isn't going to satisfy those looking for a movie experience, but it is fine for presentations. The remote also has volume control and mute functions, meaning you get a good degree of control, without having to always make the changes at source.
HD content looks reasonably crisp, with the option of 16:9 or 4:3 viewing modes. The SP-F10M is happy to give you an image from 40 up to 300 inches (according to the paperwork) remembering of course that as the image gets bigger, your room will need to be darker to get the most out of it. For your average boardroom, where you want a screen size of perhaps 100 inches (diagonal) it works well. We could clearly make out the details in daylight, so text presentations were fine: movies and images benefit from darker conditions to really bring the details out. When viewing text we did find that bold blacks on white weren't as crisp as they could be and vice versa, but colours in general are nicely rendered. It has a documented contrast ratio of 2000:1.
One of the features of the SP-F10M is the in-built Media Play file reader, which will draw content from either the internal memory (60MB) or from an attached USB drive. Navigation of larger devices can be a little slow, and the file/folder interpretation can be a little difficult as you are shown folder icons with the names only appearing when you highlight them: a case of being organised before you start.
You'll then be able to view files directly on the projector without having to attach a PC, which might mean you can travel lighter, or cut out one of the problems with having different groups presenting – you just stuff in the USB stick and away you go. Basic file types are supported and we had no problem viewing Word and Excel documents or PDF files, as well as playing PowerPoint presentations, which we suspect will be the most common formats.
Within these documents you can navigate easily, moving through pages, as well as zooming, so you'll be able to stop and focus on a particular detail if you wish. From PowerPoint documents you can dive out and play linked videos too. Straight photos can be set as a slideshow with music if you wish.
Video support is a little ragged. We tried a number of formats and not all are supported. The SP-F10M purports to support MPEG1, MPEG4, DivX and WMV, although we found a number of MPEG4 files that wouldn't play, so you'll have to experiment to ensure you have your movies in the right format. DivX seemed stable enough, but there is no support for DivX HD files.
The addition of this file support makes the Samsung SP-F10M a choice for those who need a projector that does a little more than just display what you have on your PC. It means you don't have to be a slave to your computer for presentations, you can preload the information or use a USB drive instead. This makes it a solid choice for group events where different people need to use it, perhaps presenting group work, or conference centres.
It has a power consumption of 265W, which comes in at under a regular projector, but then the price is higher. A similar projection spec machine might be half the price or less, so it really is a case of looking at the supported features and ongoing costs and seeing if this fits your remit.