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ViewSonic PA503W Review

A bright projector at a decent price that is great for presentations but not movies
ViewSonic PA503W
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $407 List | $499.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Bright image, relatively cheap, WXGA resolution
Cons:  Poor adjustability, unimpressive colors
Manufacturer:   ViewSonic
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Aug 3, 2018
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Image Quality - 45% 6
  • Ease of Use - 25% 5
  • Brightness - 15% 8
  • Fan Noise - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The ViewSonic PA503W performed well in our testing but did not stand out in any specific rating metric. We found it best suited for 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 presentation use.

Compare to Similar Products

 
ViewSonic PA503W
This Product
ViewSonic PA503W
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $407 List$1,000 List
$989.99 at Amazon
$360 List$325 List
$330 at Amazon
$280 List
$163.39 at Amazon
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Pros Bright image, relatively cheap, WXGA resolutionCrisp image quality, accurate color depiction, intuitive interface, WiFi connectivity, streaming services on deviceBright lamp, good priceRelatively good picture, automatic keystone correction, good audio qualityRelatively good image quality
Cons Poor adjustability, unimpressive colorsNo remote button backlight, not very portable, loud fanFuzzy text, does not have HD resolutionFinicky remotePoor sound quality, no remote, lacks automatic keystone correction
Bottom Line A bright projector at a decent price that is great for presentations but not moviesA projector fit for most scenarios, with amazingly crisp image quality, stellar color accuracy, an intuitive interface and streaming service capability via WiFiGreat for basic slideshow presentations, but lacks clarity and color quality for much elseA decent option for those looking for a battery-powered and portable movie machineA 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%)
6.0
8.0
3.0
4.0
4.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
4.0
Brightness (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
2.0
2.0
Fan Noise (15%)
4.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
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
Contrast Ratio 22000:1 70000:1 15000:1 120000:1 100000:1
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
Backlit Remote? No No No No N/A
Vertical Keystoning Correction? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Horizontal Keystoning Correction? No Yes Yes No No
Lens Shift? No Yes No 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
Lens Cover? No Yes Yes No No
3D Capable? Yes Yes No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

With WXGA resolution and high-end brightness, the ViewSonic PA503W works fairly well for presentation settings. Small text is decently clear, especially when you consider the price of this middle-of-the-road projector. It doesn't excel in any particular capacity but isn't atrocious in any either.

Performance Comparison


Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Image Quality


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 created barely readable slides.


However, colors on the PA503W weren't very rich and this was its most significant issue with image quality. In dark rooms, its brightness seemed to wash out darker colors 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.

When used in a home theater context, the Epson VS250 (right)...
When used in a home theater context, the Epson VS250 (right) added an odd blue tint to most scenes. Its relative lack of resolution was also noticeable. The slightly higher resolution of the PA503W (right) made it stand out amongst the lower priced models.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 and this made 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.

The remote is nice, but the menus can sometimes be confusing to...
The remote is nice, but the menus can sometimes be confusing to navigate.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Brightness


We measured the brightness on the PA503W to be 2588 lumens, making it one of the brighter projectors that 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 as well, 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.

The ViewSonic PA503W performs admirably in brightness, especially...
The ViewSonic PA503W performs admirably in brightness, especially for its price.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Fan Noise


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. For presentations, the fan noise doesn't feel distracting 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.


Value


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.

Conclusion


For those seeking a projector for business or education that has 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.

There are certainly better projectors out there, but if you want to...
There are certainly better projectors out there, but if you want to keep expenses reasonable and you need something bright for the office, this is a fine choice.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Max Mutter and Steven Tata