Optoma PK201 LED Pico Projector Review

Optoma PK201 Brightness

Brightness levels in Pico projectors as you can imagine are on the low side. They are designed to be used in dark environments. If ambient light in the room can’t be controlled completely, then generally you will be forced to set the projector up so that the image is no more than about 15 inches diagonal. The 20 lumens that the PK201 produces will allow you to project about a 30 inch diagonal image and still find it satisfactory. This is assuming you are in a room with blinds closed and lights off. Small amounts of ambient light from a doorway would be ok, but certainly not ideal.

 

Sharpness

The higher resolution of the Optoma PK201 really came through when projecting Microsoft Office documents using the VGA port from a Laptop. Out of the projectors I have reviewed, Optoma Pico projectors really have done the best job when it comes to sharpness. Text in spreadsheets is readable assuming you send the projector a resolution that matches its native resolution. Once you start to try and send the projector higher resolutions than what is native, which 854×480, text and menu items become almost unreadable and some serious eye fatigue sets in.

 

Although text might be difficult to read, pictures and video content at higher resolutions is not a problems. If you plan to show some quick numbers from a spreadsheet, larger type in the 15pt to 20pt range is going to be best if you want to display your presentation clearly. The PK201 is no substitute for a true portable projector in the 1500 to 3000 lumen brightness range. Its purpose is to be a low price, extremely portable device for sharing images from smartphones and other really portable devices like netbooks. Long sessions, with large audiences would not make the PK201 or the any Pico for that matter an ideal way to convey your ideas. However, for small intimate presentations where you need to show information to a few people with an image larger than your smartphone or netbook, the PK201 would produce a satisfactory image

Light Leakage

Light leakage is minimal and the ambient light the menu system produces will not wash out the image.

Audible Noise

Because of the light technology being used, the projector produces no sound.

General Screen Recommendations:

I suspect that people won’t be buying a projector screen to use with the Pico. Rather, they will project onto a white or near white wall. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one, but mini-screens do exist, including those that retract into a tube. I’ve seen such small screens in sizes from about 16″ diagonal. They can be opened up, and set on a table. By the way, I recommend finding a mini-tripod for setting up the projector. Those weigh only a few ounces and are typically less than 6 inches long.

If you are going to get a screen, I’d suggest a high gain screen if possible. That will help with ambient light, and provide some extra brightness. Some mini-screens come in high gain surfaces. One example is the Da-Lite Presenter screen shown here. It is 40″ diagonal, sells for around $199, and has a particularly bright surface.

For a lot less money (around $50), Draper makes a 25″ diagonal tabletop screen for pico projectors. I can’t say that I’ve actually seen one, but here’s an image I found.

I’ll be at Infocomm in June, and look around to see if I can identify more suitable portable screens.

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