I’ve been reviewing projectors for a couple of years now, and in that time the market has transformed. Back then there were cheap models which were crap and expensive ones which were good and pretty much nothing in between. Now there are so many good projectors saturating the market, that it’s completely baffling to figure out which would be right for you. Mostly it’s use cases which define your choice – that and budget.
Back in February of 2020, I looked at the Performance V630 projector from Vankyo, and my verdict was that it was a very decent mid-range projector and worth your attention. A year later it’s been upgraded to perhaps make it even more worth your while.
Vankyo is known for making budget-conscious, sturdy, decent-quality projectors, and unboxing the Vankyo Performance V630W projector, you get a taste of that. The unit is about the size of an average laptop but about 4 inches high and weighing in at about 2.7kg. It’s a substantial piece of kit, and the build quality is really good.
The most important piece of technical spec is the bulb, which according to the maker is now updated to 6800 lux. It has all the inputs and outputs you would expect in a video device of this kind: an SD card slot, HDMI inputs x2, USB in, VGA in, headphone out and a 3.5mm AV in jack (for the included AV adapter). It also has a USB power out port for external 5V devices like the Raspberry Pi. This port also has a useful little party trick which I’ll talk about in a minute.
At a distance of about 5 feet, the picture size is around 45 inches on the diagonal. Back the projector up to 30 feet away from the screen, and you get a massive 25-foot picture. Obviously, the closer you are to the screen, the brighter the picture.
The native resolution is full HD 1920×1080 and not lower resolution and interpolated, like some cheaper projectors. Sound is provided by twin 5W speakers, which although quite compact, actually give you ample loudness for normal-sized living rooms. Included in the box are the projector, power lead, remote, HDMI lead for connecting to your video devices, AV adapter cable for linking to non-HD devices, and a very sturdy and stylish carrying bag.
The first thing you notice about this projector once you turn it on is that it’s very bright. In a room lit with daylight, the screen is easily visible and the colors bright and contrasty. You can watch it in the dark for the full home cinema experience, but it’s not important for full enjoyment.
The second thing I really appreciated was the color rendition. Normally, digital projectors have overly vivid colors, sometimes verging on the psychedelic. Trying it out with different sorts of films, you can see the difference. Understated movies like Blade Runner 2047 (2017) looks muted and subtle, whereas CG movies like Alita: Battle Angel (2019) are bright and colorful but not too oversaturated. Basically, movies look really good on this thing.
The third thing I noticed is the other significant upgrade from the old model: the Wi-Fi functionality. Using the new Screen Mirroring input (and switching your device to talk to the projector’s Wi-Fi) you can wirelessly share your iOS or Android device screen with the projector. It also follows orientation, so if you have the phone upright, the image on screen is vertical. If you rotate it horizontally, then the screen smartly changes too. It all works very well.
During testing I did find that some apps on iOS didn’t share their screen quite as nicely as others, but that seems to be the fault of the coding or age of the app. Newer apps seem to work absolutely perfectly.
Finally, I also liked the tethering. If the wireless lags for your application (which it can depending on the setup of your network), you can plug a USB data cable into the 5V USB socket in the projector and tether it directly. This is the party trick I mentioned earlier.
I did find at least one app, Pinball Arcade, which slowed down when driving the big screen via tethering. No other apps suffered from this, so my guess is that it’s either the app or my old phone running an intensive graphics app which is the problem. Everything else I ran was perfectly synchronized.
Honorable mentions: I love the digital keystone settings, which are so much better at making the picture square on the screen than the mechanical rotational knob on the lens, which tends to make the top and bottom of the picture soft.
It’s hard to find any negative things to say about this projector, but something I would add is a glass lens. The acrylic lens is very good and sharp and has no perceptible chromatic aberration, but I’m old-fashioned and glass is better. You can scratch acrylic more easily, too. Also, they added Wi-Fi, so they could have also added YouTube or Netflix players, etc. Ultimately, I suppose they decided not to add either of those features to keep costs down, instead ploughing the money into build quality and brightness. I tend to agree.
The Vankyo Performance V630W projector is a great upgrade to the previous model, and the new features make it even more of a family film night workhorse. Plus, it makes itself useful as a way of making mobile device fans join in with a shared experience, which these days is something of a rarity.
It costs $269.99, but if you clip the Amazon coupon, you can take off another $50 on the Vankyo website to pay just $219.99.