LED Projector Review - 3M MPro110 Pico Projector
July 2009 - Art Feierman
This is an in-depth review of the 3M MPro110, a VGA (640x480) resolution LCoS - LED projector.
These LED projectors are also often referred to as pico projectors or pocket projectors. This 3M projector review has just been posted, and will be further proofed and a few additional images will be added.
3M MPro110 Pico Projector - Overview
The 3M MPro110 projector is the second tiny pico projector we are reviewing, the first being the Optoma Pico PK101, which published just two months ago. I also have the similar, but slightly larger Aiptek V10 Plus "PocketCinema" projector in house, and it's review will publish just a few days after this one posts.
With three of these pico projectors in-house, it immediately becomes clear that these early pico projectors tend to be separated not so much by actual performance, but by features.
The 3M MPro110, for example supports both a composite video input, and also a VGA input. By comparison the Optoma Pico PK101 projector we reviewed only handled composite video. The Aiptek has a built in media player allowing you to use the projector from an SD memory card, so that you don't need to drag around a computer, or source device like a DVD player.
The MPro110 is a bit larger pico projector than the Optoma, anif you can call any projector about the size of a pack of cigarettes large. The MPro110 is both larger and heavier than the Optoma we reviewed, while it is a touch smaller than the V10 Plus.
The 3M projector is better suited for doing a one-on-one presentation (or one-on-two/three), than most other pico projectors thanks to the VGA input ability. With other pico projectors, you can present - the Aiptek can take your presentation on the road using its media player, but there's always a loss of capability when converting to use with a media player. The Optoma Pico can do a presentation converted to jpg files and fed through the composite video port. All considered, though, the MPro110 solution is the easiest to deal with if you are bringing your computer with you.
In other words, if your primary purpose is to hook one of these little projectors up for a business type presentation the 3M is likely the strongest solution. Because of this particular strength, it qualifies for our Special Interest award.
The MPro110 lacks a speaker (the Optoma and Aiptek both have a speaker). Many portable devices will still be able to output audio through their own speaker, while sending video (or computer signal) to the 3M projector, but, definitely not all. The iPhone is one example where you will have an issue. The iPhone assumes that when you are sending video to a display device that it also has sound, so the iPhone's speakers are disabled. Bottom line - you definitely can show pictures or even YouTube videos from your iPhone, but you won't have any sound, and that sure takes the fun out of YouTube videos.
Above: Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings - not bad, a bit cool in color, and too contrasty, but, remember, you can only watch movies, if you have a way to play the sound.
I do believe, that, despite the MPro 110 having a VGA port, the majority of pico projectors sold will be for folks who want to use them with an assortment of portable devices, including camcorders, digital cameras, portable game machines (ie. Sony PSP), iPhones and other picture and video capable portable devices including other phones and MP3 type devices.
Ultimately, like with other pico projectors in its class the main attraction of the MPro110 is its tiny size and light weight, as well as being battery operated. The 3M MPro110 projector comes with an internal rechargeable battery. We ran the 3M from full charge, twice, and both times it lasted just a few of minutes over one hour, before the battery gave out. More on the battery, later.
I find that this 3M LED powered pico projector can produce a respectable image in a mostly darkened room from very small, say 12 inches, to about 24 inches diagonal. Fully darken the room and you can go larger. In a fully darkened room, the MPro110 can produce a barely bright enough image up to almost 50 inches (40 inches wide), which is also about as large an image as it can focus. Even 3M seems to agree, in their literature, they use "up to 50 inch" in describing how large an image they consider maximum. The focus limitation makes sure of that.
3M MPro110 LED Projector Highlights
- First pico projector to support a computer input (VGA - 640x480)
- About average in brightness for these pico projectors
- Definitely small enough to fit in a pocket - thus the other term - pocket projector
- Battery life good for about one hour (will no doubt, decrease as the battery ages in terms of lots of recharges) 3M rates the projector at 40 - 60 minutes
- Absolutely simple to operate - no menus, just plug in your source, and turn it on
- Convenient tripod screw thread on the bottom, ideal for using with those equally small, flexible tripods that they sell for digital cameras.
- One of the least expensive of the pico projectors with an MSRP at the time of this review, of $359. (US$)
- No speaker, making it less desireable than other units for those who planned to watch videos, etc., more of a picture viewer in that scense
- The most suitable pico projector we've seen for business presentations
- Maximum image size is about 48" inches diagonal, it won't focus larger than that (that's just as well, considering the brightness limitation)
Basic Specs for 3M MPro110 LED Projector
MSRP: $359 (US$)
Technology: LCoS with LED light source
Native Resolution: VGA (640x480)
Brightness: 10 lumens
Lens: fixed - no zoom, manual focus
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 20,000 hours
Weight: 0.56 lbs. (.25 Kg)
Warranty: 90 Days, Parts and Labor
3M MPro110 Special Features
Projector Lamp Life
Thanks to the small (and cool running) LED light source, 3M rates the life of the LED light as 20,000 hours - roughly 6 to 10 times the life of most traditional projector lamps. This means that there is no significant cost of ownership to figure in. This projector will be so obsolete, years before the LED lamp source gets close to its rating.
This is the first pico projector that I am aware of to offer a VGA input. This should make it the favorite for those planning to use it for small business presentations. While at least one other has a media player built in, with the MPro110, there's no need to convert files, just plug it into your laptop. Although the MPro110 is VGA resolution, it supports SVGA (800x600) and XGA (1024x768) source material. More on that in the Performance section of this MPro110 review.