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Screen to be believed

Sanyo plv-1p, Video player and LCD projector.Pounds 2,400. Schools Vision, The Saville Group, Millfield Lane, York YO2 6PQ.

If you want to show moving images to a large audience, you can use a film projector. But film projectors need screens and rooms that are blacked out. Besides, most schools have their audio-visual resources on video tape rather than film these days. You could use a large screen television, but these are bulky and cannot be moved around the school.

The third option is a liquid crystal display video projector. These use tiny liquid-crystal cells to produce images. Many are compact and portable. Most of them also need an external video source, such as a camcorder, VCR or video-disc player. This means using a connecting lead to link your projector up to the video player.

Enter Sanyo's PLV-1P. This is a combined LCD projector and video player. The only lead you need is the power cord the VCR sits snugly inside the projector. This really is a plug-in-and-play machine and it beats pushing a rickety television trolley around the school.

There's no need for a separate sound system because the projector has a built-in amplifier and speaker. The sound can be turned up loud enough to fill a hall or classroom, and there are also connectors for external speakers. You can also plug in a microphone and there's a mixing switch for controlling its volume. This is useful if you want to add your own commentary to a programme.

There is no long-play facility for playing recordings at half speed, and nor is there any index search system (which would make it easy to find recordings on tape) or even a tape counter. VCR controls consist of play, fast forward and reverse, picture search, pause, stop and eject. The video deck and projector can also be controlled by a remote control handset.

The PLV-1P is designed to play video tapes from several television systems, including PAL (used by most of Europe), Secam (used in France and the Middle East) and NTSC (used by the United States, Canada and Japan). This means that schools should be able to exchange tapes with overseas institutions. The PLV-1P can display images from 20 to 100-inches in size when measured diagonally, and you can use a special projection screen or a white wall.

After switching on the projector's two power buttons, it's simply a case of slotting a cassette into the back and pressing "play". The PLV-1P's picture quality is very good. Images were bright, clear and reasonably well detailed. I tried out an NTSC tape, but the picture rolled about on the screen, producing drunken images. If you plan to use tapes from abroad, be sure to check this facility before buying.

With the price tag of Pounds 2,400, the PLV-1P is not cheap. But when you consider that it is a video projector and video player in one, it doesn't seem quite so bad. If your school often shows video material to large audiences or is looking for a large-screen television, the PLV-1P is well worth giving some serious consideration.

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