AAXA P4X - Image Quality
When considering my comments about how well the P4X performs in terms of picture quality, please keep these things in mind: First, the projector looks better than the pictures would indicate (a warning we always provide). In this case, though I wish to advise that we tend to look at color and color accuracy from a home theater standpoint. Now we realize most people buying a pico projector like the AAXA P4X are probably using it for personal or small business use. We understand they will be viewing photos, and perhaps personal video clips, YouTube and a host of other content, that are very visual, and where color is relatively important.
So let me say now, that, as you have probably already noticed from photos on the index page, that color looks reasonably good. Keep that in mind, as we try to set a high standard. That is to say, most folks buying a projector like this P4-X pico, will, once set up, be very happy with this pico for viewing the family, or presenting to one or two people, at least from a color standpoint.
09/12/12 - Art Feierman
AAXA P4X Pico Projector - Picture Quality
To date, pico projectors have not proved to be anything approaching "home theater" quality, when discussing the actual picture. It is no surprise then, that the same is true of the P4-X pico projector. There are a fair amount of image controls, but don't expect a "near flawless picture". Keep in mind, though, you are going to have to opt for something a great deal larger and heavier (at least 3-4 pounds) to get something dramatically better, and one that is also a real home projector costing far more.
On the "bright side" note that with approaching 80 lumens plugged in, and almost 45 lumens on battery, the P4X pico can do a respectable job of showing your photos and videos. the AAXA P4-X also does well enough for running some business presentations to very small groups of 1 or 3. In fact, in a darkened room, you could (plugged in) do a respectable 40" diagonal image, with decent color.
Skin tones, tend towards red, and a bit ruddy. They start out very much so, but you can dial down saturation, and adjust color in the User mode, or switch to cool color to end up with respectable color quality, rivaling basic business projectors in their average, but not very best modes. The Bond "bar" image above is a good example. In this image I have already dialed down saturation a good bit, and color a little. Not a bad image, though his face is still over the top at least on my Macbook screen. Further reducing saturation would have further improved the photo. I didn't notice any real difference in photos coming from the USB input compared to those run from images on the micro-SD card, although we do not actually meaure color for the P4X or other pico projectors
There are three Picture modes, plus User: Standard, Dynamic, and Mild. Default is Standard, but Mild is probably the best place to start if you aren't going to make an effort to really adjust the projector's controls
Overall, I was able to get satisfactory color for watching a movie such as Casino Royale. Again, the point is, for a pico projector this one is reasonably watchable, reasonably good for movies, photos, and presentations. For pico projectors in general, another generation or two is needed, with emphasis on picture quality before these little guys rival the "big boys".
This projector's color controls aren't exactly what you would hope for to calibrate this projetor, but they do provide enough adjustment to come up with reasonable color accuracy. Again, don't expect this to rival even an $600 to $1000 home entertainment projector, but it is reasonably watchable, much as "Brightest" modes are, on many home projectors.
The images below show the effect of different color saturation settings, starting first, with the default setting of 50. I probably should have picked an image that didn't have the menu running right through James Bond's face - oh well!
The color on the last one above looks pretty respectable in terms of color saturation, although the colors are a touch yellow. By comparison, above it, the image with saturation at 34 is still a little oversaturated, but I had also messed with the color here, and it has the best skin tones, and the suit looks better. All considered, the settings for the middle image, but with saturation reduced to 29 or 30 works rather well.
Looking at the color chart above (default), reds are oversaturated, as we also see in the other photos. Yellows are a bit murky and cyan defintely off a bit, blue with a touch of red (shift toward purple), and green with too much yellow... Ultimately though, for a pico projector, if you are willing to work the adjustments, the picture should serve you well enough as demonstrated by various images in this review.
In this image above, without color adjustments, skin tones are generally decent, but look at the pink/red of the bricks which start out, fairly neutral gray on the test disc. Again, due to an oversaturated red.
My only other complaint is an overly contrasty look to skin tones. You can see that in the bond plane images above. Not too terrible, but I was unable to adjust all the way out, without other issues (such as a very dull looking image).
All considered, better color than a number of previously reviewed pico projectors. Not so much "right out of the box", but with a little adjustment, no problem viewing your photos and having them look pretty good.
I've run video from both the USB port (it works) and from my Macbook and my iPad via HDMI. There is no way I can figure out how to run photos, sound, or video directly from an iPhone or itouch via the USB, which is for things like thumb drives, however all works just fine when using the P4X projector via the HDMI, as intended. If there's an issue, it's primarily that the resolution of this projector is only WVGA like many picos. Officially 858x480 That's a hair wider than the 854x480 that is the standard for those old fashioned DVDs. In other words, from a pixel basis, the projector has only about 1/3 the pixels of a standard 720p HD video, and less than 1/6 the pixels of a 1080p video. Hey we survived the '90's and most of the first decade of this century with standard DVDs.
For all that "criticism" it runs videos just fine. Twenty minutes of viewing Caddyshack worked out just dandy. You certainly will get better resolution and color on an iPad, but with the lights out, and the P4X projector plugged in, I was able to enjoy the movie on a screen size a bit bigger than 40" diagonal, and could have gone a little larger. At 40 inches diagonal the brightness was approaching that of a typical home theater projector when watching a movie. 70 lumens on 40" diagonal is the equivalent of about 375 lumens on a 100" diagonal screen.
Bottom Line Image Quality: Not bad image quality performance for a pico projector. In fact much better than many picos we've reviewed over the last 3 years. Still, if you are looking for excellent image quality, the P4X isn't quite going to get you there. Nor will any other small pico I can think of. Even the best of the 300 - 500 lumen "pocket" pico projectors are still struggling to get great color.
Is the quality good enough for a business presentation with some photos and a video? I don't see a problem, as long as you have lighting control and don't try to show anything that requires precise color. Of course, if you are making the most important presentation of your life, find a better projector that's not a pico, or a pocket. -