The Art of Gaming

Dual Review – Optoma Neo-i & Optoma PK301

Hey all!

I’ve had a couple weeks to sit down with these two Optoma projectors and get a good feel for what they can do.   This was my first time with any “pico” projector and I spent a good deal of time getting used to the concept before diving into my review.  It certainly was interesting to see how these types of projectors perform in a variety of environments.

Before getting too deep into my review,  I want to mention that both of these projectors have the same “projector” on the inside.  They have some different features and different outside shells, but the projectors themselvs are the same.  The PK301 has a very small shell suitable for easy travel in a purse or bookbag.  The Neo-i, though small in comparison to most other projectors, sports a larger ipod speaker dock type design more suitable for sudo-permanent shelf placement.  Naturally, the Neo-i has larger built-in speakers than the PK-301, and a full sized HDMI rather than a mini connection, but all-in-all, the two projectors function identical to one another.  Both projectors also have the 3.5 stereo output for headphones if you prefer…

Other than testing input lag and some basic comparisons between the two, I spent most of my time with the PK301.  Its less specialized features and extremely portable design was much more appealing to me.

I was able to connect it to a variety of devices including my PS3 (720P 60Hz).   I tried to use the PK301 as it would be used by its owner – in a whole bunch of different environments, both ideal, and less than ideal.  I also spent a lot of time trying to connect it to handheld devices like my Sony PSP.  The image mediums included a screen, some dry-wall, some rough off-white walls, even on the back of a microfiber chair.   And for the most part, it did pretty well…

Brightness is always a concern for projectors, and I’d say the Neo-i/PK-301 can respectably support up to a 40″ screen in most environments.    Some may try to argue for more size, but I personally wouldn’t go much larger.  Anything above 40″ starts getting dim and pixelated.  The good news is, you can pretty much decide how large you want your screen to be on the spot and cater to the environment you find yourself in.

The colors on these two projectors are…acceptable.  They aren’t 100% accurate, but if you put the PK301 in “standard” mode rather than “brightest” mode the colors look much less over saturated and much more natural  -  a big difference.   I tend to sacrifice brightness for color accuracy, so I kept the PK301 in “standard” mode for the majority of my use and found it enjoyable to play on…but if you are already playing on an off-color surface you may opt for the extra boost in brightness because the colors are skewed anyways.

Input lag was not a problem for these projectors.  Both the PK301 on the Neo-i tested the same 10-15ms input lag.  And there are no extra features like FI to increase this number, so nothing to worry about here…

Something worth mentioning about the PK301 is the built-in battery pack (something not included on the Neo-i).  It’s only good for about an hour with the bulb on standard brightness settings.  But being nearly pocket size, this feature could definitely be handy in situations where you don’t have immediate access to a power outlet…

My opinion is that this type of projector appeals to a very specialized gaming market.  If you are always on the go and value ultimate portability and instant access to a larger screen sizes…its worth considering.   I can see it being used in conjunction with a PSP (component adapter) or a cell phone (HDMI out) to play games or watch movies on a larger screen.  If you aren’t picky you can throw an image up on about anything…

If you are looking to use this projector in a more permanent setting, you may be better off getting something like an Optoma GT720 which will give you much more brightness, sharpness and a larger image.


For those curious  -

I’ll be working on the Optoma GT750 (GT720′s successor) gaming projector review in a few days.  And…

BenQ has informed me of a firmware update that will supposedly solve the W1200′s input lag issues.  I’ve shipped the W1200 back to them – along with a Deluxe Scrabble board game (long story), and they will be shipping the W1200 with updated firmware back to me so I can take a second look.   Stay tuned!

News And Comments

  • Funktron

    I came here because I’ve finally decided to start shopping for my first projector for home theatre and gaming. All I want now is to hear about the scrabble.

    • pete


      I am in the process of moving and I had to call a favor from my sister because I was on a house hunting trip. I put the shipping label for the projector on projector box, but for some reason she thought that I wanted to ship BenQ a deluxe game of Scrabble. Let’s just say they were surprised (and hopefully a little amused) to find a board game instead of a projector in their return shipment. :)

  • Vince Binder

    I’m in the process of building a racing simulator – and I’m leaning toward a projection system. I have a JVC HD1 in the theater and I love it – very immersive, no eye strain, and I don’t need reading glasses to read the text. I’m leaning toward the Epson 8350 since I only have 10′ from wall to screen and I’ll be sitting at about 8.5′ from the screen (THX suggest a 88″ screen which I can do – but that might be a bit too big – I’ll know for sure later this evening as I can plant myself in front of the JVC where I normally sit at 12′ – I’ll just move up to 8.5 – it’s an 86″ screen – gotta be too big right?

    Anyway – are the 8350 and 8700UB and your 6500UB (is that right?) close enough in design to assume similar input lags and motion blurs?

    Also hoping to see your updated BenQ review and the GT7500 – although I’m a bit confused by optoma’s idea of 1080p being 1600×1200 with a native resolution of 1280×800 on the GT720 – how’s that 1080p???

    • pete

      Hey Vince,

      Sorry about the late response…

      I don’t think the screen size will be too big at all. I take the THX recommendation as a guideline, I think you’ll be happy with that size…

      Yes, I would say the Epson’s are close enough to say they are about the same. They all part of the same design family with similar innards. (The 8 series hopefully a little better???)

      I’m hoping to have more projectors to take a look at soon. I apologize, I have been extremely busy with my move and haven’t had time to “take care of business”. Once I get settled in I should have a more steady stream of blogs.

  • Vince Binder

    I would like to see a review on the Optima HD33 – real 1080p and possibly 3D gaming?