The ViewSonic PA503W performed well in our testing but did not stand out in any specific rating metric. We found it best suited for office presentations because of its high brightness, which is useful in rooms with ambient light. The WXGA resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio felt like a big step up from cheaper models, which tend to have a native aspect ratio of 4:3. This projector is underwhelming for movies but shines for its presentation capabilities. Its fan noise is also noticeable, another detriment for viewing movies that annoyed some of our testers. Overall, it is a good option for educational and business projector use.Editor's Note: The ViewSonic review now includes two new sections about which projectors we recommend. We made this update on February 25, 2022.
ViewSonic PA503W Review
Pros: Bright image, relatively cheap, WXGA resolution
Cons: Poor adjustability, unimpressive colors
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$407 List||$1,000 List||$360 List||$325 List|
$309.99 at Amazon
$279.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Bright image, relatively cheap, WXGA resolution||Crisp image quality, accurate color depiction, intuitive interface, WiFi connectivity, streaming services on device||Bright lamp, good price||Relatively good picture, automatic keystone correction, good audio quality||Relatively good image quality|
|Cons||Poor adjustability, unimpressive colors||No remote button backlight, not very portable, loud fan||Fuzzy text, does not have HD resolution||Finicky remote||Poor sound quality, no remote, lacks automatic keystone correction|
|Bottom Line||A bright projector at a decent price that is great for presentations but not movies||A projector fit for most scenarios, with amazingly crisp image quality, stellar color accuracy, an intuitive interface and streaming service capability via WiFi||Great for basic slideshow presentations, but lacks clarity and color quality for much else||A decent option for those looking for a battery-powered and portable movie machine||A decent picture can't make up for the lack of features found in most other models|
|Rating Categories||ViewSonic PA503W||Epson Home Cinema 2250||Epson VS250||ViewSonic M1 Portable||Optoma LV130|
|Image Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Fan Noise (15%)|
|Specs||ViewSonic PA503W||Epson Home Cinema 2250||Epson VS250||ViewSonic M1 Portable||Optoma LV130|
|Projection Technology||DLP||3LCD||3LCD||RGB LED||RGB LED|
|Specification Brightness||3600 lumens||2700 lumens||3200 lumens||250 lumens||300 lumens|
|Measured Brightness||2588 lumens||3166 lumens||2847 lumens||124 lumens||120 lumens|
|Maximum Resolution||1280 x 800||1080p||800 x 600||854 x 480||800 x 480|
|Apect Ratio||Native 16:10||Native 16:9||Native 4:3||Native 16:9||Native 16:9|
|Zoom Ratio||1.0- 1.1||1.0 - 1.6||1.0- 1.35 (digital)||n/a||n/a|
|Throw Ratio (Wide to Zoom)||1.55 to 1.70||1.33 to 2.17||1.45 -to1.96||1.2||1.1|
|Vertical Keystoning Correction?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Horizontal Keystoning Correction?||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Dimensions||11.6" x 4.3" x 8.6"||12.2" x 12.4" x 4.8"||11.9" x 9.2" x 3.2"||5.8" x 1.6" x 5.0"||4.13" x 1.4" x 4.7"|
|Weight||4.9 lbs||8.4 lbs||5.3 lbs||1.5 lbs||0.9 lbs|
Our Analysis and Test Results
With WXGA resolution and high-end brightness, the ViewSonic PA503W works fairly well for presentation office settings. Small text is decently clear, especially when considering the price of this middle-of-the-road projector compared to competitors. It doesn't excel in any particular capacity but isn't atrocious in any either.
We found the PA503W to be a strong performer for presentations and slideshows because of its high brightness and 16:10 aspect ratio. It scored about average among the projectors that we tested. Our testers liked the WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution far better than SVGA (800 x 600), especially when it came to text. The PA503W displays crisp letters, while lower resolution models create barely readable slides.
However, the colors on the PA503W weren't very rich, which was its most significant issue with image quality. Its brightness seemed to wash out darker colors in dark rooms, and we weren't impressed with its ability to display black. If you don't watch movies frequently, this won't be a substantial issue, but if you're looking for something for home theater use, you'll want to keep shopping — and likely spend more money. That said, for the price, the PA503W is more than decent, even for the occasional movie night.
Ease of Use
The PA503W didn't stand out as the most user-friendly projector in our lineup, earning a lower score. It mostly lost points due to the lack of adjustable feet. Only the front foot is adjustable, making it much slower to set up on flat surfaces.
The remote is easy to navigate, but the menus don't feel as user-friendly as other projectors. With time it gets easier, though, and the remote is well-made. This projector is also fairly portable with a rectangular profile and a weight of just 4.9 pounds.
We measured the brightness on the PA503W to be 2588 lumens, making it one of the brighter projectors we tested — especially for a lower-priced model. Even though this is 28% lower than ViewSonic's claimed brightness of 3600 Lumens, it still projected clearly in mild ambient light.
Colors still appear clear and accurate in ambient light, while darker shades do get washed out. The high brightness is ideal for presentation settings but tends to wash out colors if you're viewing a movie in a completely dark room.
Like other ViewSonic models, the PA503W has a noticeably loud fan, which is especially bothersome while watching movies. Because of this, it did not score well for this metric. The fan noise doesn't feel distracting for presentations, but it seemed like the projector's fan was on much more frequently than most of the other models in our review. This is, again, why we stress that the PA503W is best for office-type settings. It's good in that environment, but many folks will likely be disappointed with this projector if they're trying to build a home theater.
Should You Buy the ViewSonic PA503W?
For those seeking a projector for business or education with a 16:10 aspect ratio, the PA503W is a great option. It is better than any of the 4:3 models we tested yet doesn't break the bank like the top-scoring models. The ViewSonic PA503W falls between low-end and high-end consumer projectors in terms of price. It's a good choice for those who want a projector with a 16:10 native aspect ratio, WXGA resolution, and high brightness. Cheaper business and education-specific projectors typically have aspect ratios of 4:3 and SVGA (800 x 600) resolution.
What Other Projectors Should You Consider?
This is likely your best bet if your budget is small, but the image quality isn't what you need for a great movie-watching experience, despite the impressive brightness. The BenQ HT2150ST has the best image quality in the lineup, and we think it is worth the added cost to get better visuals and an overall more engrossing experience. Overall, it is a lower-priced option than the highest-ranking options, but if you have a dark room for your theater, we think it is the one to pick. If money isn't a concern and you want the highest-ranking option with versatile ability across lighting conditions, the Epson Home Cinema 2250 has great image quality and brightness that brings the movie world into your home like no other.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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