Nomvdic X300 Smart Portable Speaker & Projector Review
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Nomvdic X300 Smart Portable Speaker & Projector Review

May 01, 2024

The Nomvdic X300 ($799) is the first projector we've seen whose full name gives top billing to its built-in speaker, rather than the projector itself. But there's good reason for that. Most projectors with similar key specs are smaller and lighter, and have much lower audio quality and volume. The Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser, for example, our current Editors' Choice pick for mini projectors, shares the same 1080p (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) native resolution and 300-ANSI-lumen rating as the X300, but it weighs less than a third as much and offers a less-robust sound system. If you want a portable projector with audio quality that surpasses the picture quality, or want a good portable speaker with a built-in projector, the X300 is a strong candidate.

Nomvdic describes the X300's design as "retro." Depending on what angle you're viewing it from, and whether the handle-like strap is in carrying position above the X300 or pivoted down along one side, it looks like a mashup of a late 1950s tabletop AM radio, a 1980s mini boombox, and a small handbag. Although it measures 6.2 by 10.9 by 6.5 inches (HWD) overall, including the carrying strap, the main body is actually a touch smaller (10.25 inches wide), and it narrows from the 6.5-inch depth at the base to 4.75 inches at the top. It weighs in at 6.6 pounds, which is heavy for a 300-lumen portable projector, but in the typical range for room-to-room-to-backyard portables.

The lens is on the top of the unit, behind a small cover that pivots up to reveal both the lens, which is pointed straight up, and a mirror on the underside of the cover. Pivot it far enough, and you can project on a ceiling to watch while lying in bed or on the floor. Pivot it to a 45-to-55-degree angle, and the image will bounce off the mirror to whatever you're using as a screen.

Changing the angle changes the image height, while two control knobs, also on the top, offer digital horizontal and vertical keystone adjustment to square it off as needed. A third knob adjusts volume. (Now, that's retro.)

As with most portable projectors in its brightness class, the X300 uses a DLP imaging chip paired with an RGB LED light source, rated in this case at 30,000 hours using full power.

Battery life is rated at 6 hours for audio. For projection, it's 3 hours in Battery Saving mode (lowest brightness), and 2.5 hours in Eco mode. There's no rating for full power, because the Full mode is not supposed to be available when using battery power, even though the 1.00 firmware I tested with let me set it for any of the three modes when using the battery. The 1.01 upgrade Nomvdic sent after I finished all formal testing eliminated that option, however, and it also seemed to have fixed a bug that often introduced an obvious green or magenta bias in the image when changing power modes. Should you run into this issue, however, and can't upgrade immediately, note that even with the original firmware I could get back to more neutral color by switching back and forth once or twice between another power mode and the one I wanted.

Setting up the X300 as a projector is mostly as you'd expect it to be. Connect a video source, point it at whatever you're using for a screen, and focus. The powered focus doesn't offer precise control, which means it's easy to overshoot the best setting and all but impossible to get an appropriately sharp image for the 1080p resolution. However, I was able to get a usably sharp image without too much trouble.

Connection options include HDMI, USB Type-C, USB Type-A (for reading files from USB memory), a microSD card slot, and Wi-Fi. There's no Wi-Fi Direct support, which means you won't be able to connect wirelessly if you're not near a Wi-Fi network. However, that's not much of an issue. A wired connection for mirroring via the HDMI or USB-C port is often a better choice, since it lets you mirror Netflix and other apps that won't work over Wi-Fi Direct. Nomvdic offers a downloadable Netflix app for streaming from the X300, but it's designed for mouse control, making it clumsy to use.

Note that Nomvdic also offers an app that can serve as a remote for the X300, but I couldn't get it working. The first step after launching requires scanning a QR code that the projector shows on screen, and every time I tried, I got an error message that it wasn't a valid code. You don't need the app as long as you have the remote, but there are no controls on the projector itself. If you lose the remote and don't have the app working, you'll have problems using the projector until you get a new one. (Replacements are $29.99, with free shipping.) Note too that Nomvdic says it is developing a "simple" Bluetooth-based remote app.

One unusual setup step is the option to use the included speaker spikes and spike shoes—a niche feature that will make sense only to audiophiles. At the risk of oversimplifying, spikes and shoes (which can serve as feet for a speaker) are designed to give the smallest possible area of physical contact with the surface a speaker is sitting on, a trick that can improve sound quality (but may or may not actualy improve it with any given speaker in any given room). This is the first projector I've seen that offers this option, and it seems a little overkill for a portable unit. But it also indicates how much emphasis Nomvdic puts on the speaker side of the X300.

We don't measure performance on projector audio, so I don't have any numbers to back up my subjective observations, but I'm absolutely sure that the X300's set of two 8-watt Harman Kardon stereo speakers, each of which includes a tweeter and woofer, delivered sound quality that's among the best, if not the best, of any projector we've reviewed. You can also connect to an external audio system via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm stereo audio-out port (although there's little need to), as well as use the X300 as a speaker for another audio source (which is far more useful) via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm input. Volume is high enough to easily fill a large family room and even to deliver robust sound for a backyard movie night or for playing music at an outdoor party.

The X300 has four predefined picture modes and two user modes, all of which offer extensive settings options. None of the modes has particularly good color accuracy or contrast using default settings, but all score well enough on both. Most people will rate the best mode as acceptable and the worst as tolerable. After some preliminary testing, I chose Movie mode for my viewing tests. (It offered the best color accuracy, was no worse than the others for contrast, and was a close second for shadow detail.) Dark scenes in our standard test suite lost a lot of detail I know should be there, but they retained enough so I could generally make out what was happening.

The X300 doesn't support 4K or HDR input, but it does support full HD 3D using DLP-Link glasses. I didn't see any crosstalk in my 3D viewing tests, but 3D-related motion artifacts were a touch more obvious than typical for current projectors. I measured the input lag with a Bodnar meter at 69 to 71 milliseconds at 1080p/60Hz, depending on the picture mode. That's way too long for serious gamers, but casual users may consider it acceptable.

One important plus for the X300 is that it did a good job of avoiding the red/green/blue flashes that single-chip projectors can add to an image. I see these rainbow artifacts easily, and saw only a few in my time with the X300. That said, our standard advice applies: If you find rainbow artifacts annoying, or don't know if you do, buy from a dealer that allows returns without a restocking fee, so you can test it out for yourself.

Image brightness in full power mode and Movie picture mode was roughly a match for what I expect from 300 ANSI lumens: just enough to deliver a watchable image on a 90-inch, 1.0-gain white screen in a dark room or under low levels of ambient light. At higher light levels, or when using Eco or Battery Saver modes, plan to use smaller screen sizes. And if you're using a wall for a screen, keep in mind that the image will likely be dimmer at any given size than when using a screen that's actually designed to reflect light.

The Nomvdic X300 is far more impressive as a speaker than as a projector. If you care more about the picture than the sound, be sure to consider the slightly pricier Nebula Capsule 3 Laser, which delivers noticeably better image quality than the X300. The Xgimi Halo+ is also worth considering, since it comes in second among these three for image quality, but first for brightness, and is our top pick for a high-brightness portable mini projector.

Another possibility is the BenQ GS50, which is also brighter than the X300 and designed with a little extra ruggedness for outdoor use. All three of these alternatives have reasonably good audio for their size. However, none of them comes close to the X300 on that score. If robust audio is your primary need, the Nomvdic X300 is way out in front.

At least as much a portable speaker as it is a projector, the Nomvdic X300 is designed for casual use in either role, whether listening to music at a picnic or watching movies projected on a handy blank wall or the side of a camper.

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