Based on three 0.55-inch LCD panels, the 6-pound PG-B10S is of average size for the budget class, measuring 3.6 by 11.5 by 9.0 inches. It's smaller than the InFocus X2 but much bigger and heavier than the Hitachi Performa CP-RS55. With remote and cables, the PG-B10S is ready for the road at a reasonable 7.1 pounds.
The projector's battleship-gray plastic case has one thing no other projector in its class has: a joystick to move the lens position up to 30 degrees in any direction. At a distance of 5 feet, the projector can create a 4-foot diagonal image, 9 inches bigger than the InFocus X2, but 8 inches smaller than the Sony VPL-ES2, and the 1.25X zoom lens can fill a variety of screen sizes. The projector works with both the traditional 4:3 and the 16:9 format often found on DVDs.
The PG-B10S's 11-button control panel seems a little daunting at first, but it's color-coded, and Sharp includes an informational sticker along with a complete user manual. A series of ports along the back of the projector include VGA in and out, S-Video, composite video, and a serial port; there's also a minijack for audio so that your notebook's sound can be played through the projector's 1-watt speaker, but it isn't very loud or clear. The PG-B10S comes with cables for AC and VGA, but there's no provision for a USB connection.
The projector starts up quickly, in just 33 seconds, but its 1-minute, 34-second cool-down period is a bit long. Sharp does include a remote that offers a way to blank the screen for quick notebook changes, but it lacks a laser pointer and controls for moving PowerPoint slides forward and back. For that feature, you'll need to buy Sharp's AN-MR1EL receiver, but many other projectors provide that functionality without extra gear.
The PG-B10S is capable of putting 1,227 lumens of light onscreen, an acceptable amount, but it isn't impressive when compared with the InFocus X2, which musters 1,776 lumens. The PG-B10S's fan is quieter than those found in its competitors, and you can make it even quieter by running the machine in low-brightness mode, which is still brighter than many budget machines can muster in high-power mode. The PG-B10S comes up short on contrast, with a puny 172:1 ratio. Like other LCD projectors, there is some space between the pixels which results in screen-door-like grid lines, and its greens have a marked yellowish tinge to them.
Although the PG-B10S lists for $1,300, you can find it for less than $1,000. It comes with a padded messenger bag. Replacement lamps cost $350, and swapping them in requires a few minutes of effort and the loosening of several screws. We calculated that the projector costs 7.8 cents per hour to operate. You'll also need to periodically replace the dust filter, but Sharp generously includes a spare.
Sharp stands behind the projector with an excellent three-year warranty on parts and labor that's the best in the business; the company also includes two years of overnight repair service--ideal for businesses that can't do without a projector for long. Like its peers, the company guarantees the lamp for only 90 days. Sharp's Web site provides extensive FAQs, manuals, and spec sheets but little start-up help and few troubleshooting or presentation aids. E-mailing or calling the company's 24-hour, toll-free hotline are the best bets for getting help.