Powerful yet portable
By ZAM KARIM
Pocket projectors may be small but they usually have enough features to rival their bigger siblings.
Perhaps the only main complaint that still persists is that they are not bright enough but that may change with a newer breed of pocket projectors that are shining brighter thanks to advancement in LED lighting technology.
One such projector is the 3M MP220 which has a brightness of 65 lumens. Still, it can't compare to the brightness of a standard-sized projector but at least it can now function even in a bright room.
With a native resolution of 1,024 x 600-pixels, this device is able to project images up to 75in in size virtually on any flat surface which is more than adequate for presenting PowerPoint slides, viewing documents and, of course, watching a movie or two.
As far as a pocket projectors go, the MP220 is not that light - it weighs 400g - but it is tiny and has a frame of 157 x 81 x 32mm, which is roughly the size of a typical pencil box.
The device is finished in black with the removable battery taking up the whole of the bottom of the device.
You control the projector using the navigational pad which comprises four buttons - Menu, Back, Search and Home – and a track point.
On the front, right next to the lens, is the focus wheel. There is no autofocus or keystone correction - you will need to ensure that the projector is square to the wall for the best image.
The device has 2GB of internal storage for storing data which you can further expand via the microSD slot.
It also has a microUSB port for connecting it to a PC for transferring files to the built-in memory.
The MP220 also has stereo speakers that were able to produce audio loud enough for an audience in a small room to hear clearly. You also have the option of connecting it to external speakers for a more bombastic presentation.
The MP220 is easy to figure out even without referring to the manual. Once powered up, you will be presented with four homescreens - home, productivity, entertainment and media.
We were quite surprised how bright it was even in a well-lit room. From 5ft away it was able to project a 32in image which is good.
The navigation pad was easy to use and pressing the Search button allows you to switch between mouse and trackball modes. Also, the buttons are lit which means you will have no problem using them in the dark.
The projector also comes pre-installed with apps like a document reader, media player and two kiddie games.
The file format support is quite comprehensive - the apps can view GIF‚ PNG‚ BMP‚ JPG, MPEG4‚ H.264‚ MOV, MP3 DOC‚ PPT‚ XLS, PDF and more.
As the device runs on Android 2.2 you can get more apps from the Google Play store but there is one catch.
The projector cannot connect to the Internet, so you will have to manually get the Android APK files and transfer them to the built-in memory by using the microUSB cable or microSD card. You will then have to use the AppLoader program to install the apps.
However, most Android apps are usually optimised for touchscreen devices which the MP220 doesn't have, so not all apps are usable on the projector.
Some apps that do work may also need extra effort on your part because using the track point can be cumbersome and slow.
Still, it is nice that you can expand the features of the projector by installing more apps.
Also, in case you are wondering, we were able to play Angry Birds smoothly on the projector :-)
We also loaded the projector with a few HD movies and had a blast.
Also, the LED light source has a 20,000 hour lamp life, so there's plenty of time for you to enjoy your movies for many years to come.
The built-in battery lasts two hours on a single charge and the projector can still be used while it is being charged.
The company also loaned us the optional VGA and Apple cables for the review. These cables allow you to project whatever is on the screen of a device such as PC, iPad or iPhone.
Unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to try the RCA cable, which would have allowed us to connect more devices like DVD players, camcorders and game consoles.
Anyway, these optional cables are not cheap - each one will set you back by more than RM100.
The MP220 is a feature-packed projector that is not only easy to carry but also fun to use.
At 65 lumens, it is also bright enough for a variety of uses, and the ability to install Android apps makes it truly versatile.
The projector also allows you to read documents, view still images, watch videos and play games - it is almost as good as a media player if not better.
We don't have any big issues with the projector itself but wish that it was bundled with more cables which would have made the projector even more versatile.
Still, the MP220 is a feature-packed projector that's worth the slightly hefty price.
Pros: Compact, easy to use; runs on Android; supports multiple file formats.
Cons: High priced; cables cost extra.
MEMORY: 2GB internal, microSD card slot
BRIGHTNESS: 65 lumens
DISPLAY RESOLUTION: 1,024 x 600-pixels
FILE FORMAT SUPPORT: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, BMP, JPEG, MP4, MP3
SPEAKERS: Stereo (0.75-watt x2)
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 157 x 81 x 32mm
Review unit courtesy of 3M Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 7806-2888
Copyright 1995-2012 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)