One of the many interesting and simultaneously confusing things about Windows Vista is that more than a few features and capabilities of the Microsoft operating system are designed for hardware and systems that didn't exist when Vista was launched.
One such feature that users probably run across and wonder, "what's that for?" is the Connect to a Network Projector wizard. However, in my tests of the new NEC NP3150 projector I was finally able to answer that question and use the Connect to a Network Projector wizard.
That's because NEC's NP3150 is one of the first projectors available that utilizes Vista's Connect to a Network Projector wizard. The NEC NP3150 comes with capabilities to connect to company networks both through standard Ethernet cables or through the integrated wireless connection built into the projector.
Getting the projector connected to the network in either configuration proved to be fairly simple. Hitting the menu button on the top of the projector displayed a menu option on the projected screen that allowed us to view and configure the network settings along with the network password for the projector. The projector used DHCP to get an IP address but I could also define a specific address.
Once connected I simply launched the Connect to a Network Projector wizard on my Vista system. The wizard searched the network for connected projectors and from there I simply selected the projector, entered the password and hit connect.
From that point the projector was showing what was on my screen much as if I was connected directly to the projector. Slides showed very well though on my test network video was pretty choppy.
Of course, networked projectors aren't a new thing but most past projectors have required the installation of special software. With this configuration any Vista system can easily connect to a networked projector with almost no work.
It is even possible to remotely control the connected system from the projector, though this requires attaching a mouse and keyboard to the projector, which at that point I was wondering why I didn't just connect a laptop in the old way.
Aside from the networking capabilities of the NEC NP3150 it is also a solid and fairly hefty projector designed for large seminar and conferencing requirements typical of academia, hotel conferences and large businesses. Quality of display and features were all good for this level of projector (though I wouldn't want to have to take it on the road).
The NEC NP3150 is priced at $4,999. For more information go to www.necdisplay.com.