By Chuong Nguyen | December 10, 2009 1:09 AM
If you’ve already got a high end device with TV out capabilities–like the HTC Touch Pro2, Nokia N900, or the Nokia N97–and want the pico projector functionality without shelling out money for the new integrated solution offered by the LG eXpo Windows phone–a phone that has since been delayed for the AT&T Holiday lineup–then you should consider pico projector accessories from other manufacturers as well. We will be examining two solutions–one from aaxa Technologies dubbed the P1 Pico Projector and another from 3M called the MPRO120.
Both devices should be compatible with a number of smartphone platforms and laptops as long as they support a video out port. Composite and VGA are both supported connectors on these pico projectors for maximum compatibility with VGA resolution displays.
Pico projectors have been gaining momentum in the media after a slow start. They’re beginning to appear in consumer electronics such as cameras and high end smartphones for the ease of use of being able to view and share information, content, and media on a larger screen than the typical 3- to 5-inch displays afforded to those small devices. Roughly the size of a modern smartphone, the aaxa Technologies P1 Pico Projector and the competing 3M MPRO120 are able to project whatever is on your phone/camera/media device for two to three hours at a time on a single battery charge onto a display size of roughly 50-inch. With optimal conditions–darkened room, white wall–you will get a clear, large display and can host a theatrical experience with a pico projector attached to your multimedia capable phone. The LED bulb lasts for 20,000 projection hours so hopefully you won’t have to replace the bulb.
aaxa Technologies P1 Pico Projector
Summary: The aaxa Technologies P1 Pico Projector, hereon referred to as the P1, is a small, compact device with a hard plastic shell, rubber flaps to protect the lens and memory card slot.
Pros: The unique feature about the P1 is that you don’t need to attach it to anything to showcase pictures and videos–users can just plug in a memory card to the device directly and the P1 will decode your content for direct viewing!
Cons: I just wished the speaker was a tad louder. You can always connect a portable speaker system to the 3.5 mm headphone port. Picture quality was bright, but quickly washed away if there was any light source between the projector and the wall. A quick way to mitigate that is to project a smaller display by moving the projector closer to the wall and have a brighter concentration of the P1′s light shining onto a more condensed projection area. Additionally, the P1 model requires optional purchases for a tripod (you need to order the tripod to get the slip mount and then you can even use your own tripod; the mount part isn’t built-in) and a VGA cable kit for laptop connections is available for extra money. The accessories cost is mitigated with the P2 model, but that is offered at a substantially higher asking price.
Price: The price is the most attractive part of the P1, costing at just over $200. It sounds expensive, but will be compatible with a lot of devices that you currently own. The comparable pico projector accessory for the LG eXpo is $180 in comparison and only works with that particular model phone. The compromise is that for the P1, you’ll have a few more dangling cables and cords rather than the elegant eXpo solution, but for those who are tied into a contract or don’t want to part with their smartphones, the P1 is a smart accessory offering great performance and value.
Summary: The 3M MPRO120 is a longer device, though not uncomfortably long, and is coated in a nice soft-touch coating. It has a tripod mount built-in, unlike the P1, and offers slightly better performance than its competitor. Dressed in black, it’s a nice addition and a comfortable fit to most board rooms.
Pros: The MPRO120 is a great second generation pico projector from 3M. The company is targeting those in business suits with this device, offering strong performance and better brightness than the P1–the MPRO120 appears brighter and can handle a little bit of dim light better than the P1′s LED bulb. In darkened rooms, the two models offered similar performance, but with the introduction of low, ambient background lighting, the P1 projection quality became washed out whereas the MPRO120 picture was still visible. A better sounding stereo speaker was also part of the package–though the speakers still sounded tinny–gave it a bit of an edge over the P1. I’d still recommend external portable speakers as well with this unit. The device also comes with composite and VGA cables to extend your connections to laptops and other devices whereas the P1 only comes with composite cables (VGA on the P1 is an added cost).
Cons: The device is definitely well executed towards the audience that 3M had in mind–business people. For the aspiring technology early adaptors and those who just want one to watch a casual YouTube video in bed on a blank wall, the price of the model is the downside. Still, performance, as always, could be better. The device does a fine job in environments with “low light” but for a $400 MSRP (retailing for less), you will be trading brightness of a heavier budget projection system for the portability of this high-end pico projector.
Price: The MPRO120, with slightly better performance and a more “inclusive” feeling as far as its cables and accessories are concerned, is priced higher than the P1. The device retails for $306 from Buy.com, down from $400 MSRP, quite a steep jump from the P1′s budget asking price.
Both projectors offer exceptional value and performance for those who need to work in teams or need to share information quickly through a PowerPoint presentation. For business students, sales people, and mobile professionals, the reduced weight of having to carry a projector system for a pico projector will be bliss. If you can find yourself a dark room, a white screen, and some portable speakers, the devices will do well showing movies and streaming content from YouTube. The P1 is the more budget model, offering great value and performance whereas the MPRO is more costly but delivers better performance.