Optoma ML550 LED Projector Review

Appearance

The Optoma ML550 is a tight, compact, little unit that looks and feels durable. Its box like design really makes the unit seem durable enough for heavy travel, which of course is its main purpose. This projector would easily fit in a laptop bag, even though it also has a power supply that is designed specifically for the ML550. I have to admit, that is one aspect of this projector that for the most part makes it technically larger than its original footprint. Consider this, you will have to have the power supply with you at all times, and the power supply is about the size of a Pico projector. However, at 500 lumens, it still is a great projector for traveling presenters.

Looking at the projector from the front you can see that the design is clean and straightforward. There is a vent, with a fan that you can see behind it. Then the lens. It is recessed into the projector. Recessing the lens is a particularly good design, since it means you have a better chance of not breaking the lens if it should fall, or be abused during travel.

The side of the projector has a vent, and the rear of the projector has a vent with a fan. This unit is pretty efficient at cooling itself. The bottom of the projector does not have adjustable feet, but to get a nice square image you can always use a tripod stand, or prop it up with a few playing  cards. It is terrible to say that, but adjustable feet would have just meant a larger projector. The projector does have keystone correction so that is an option for getting a true image as well. It does come at some loss of picture quality, but not much. Keep in mind that every projector loses a little bit of picture quality if you use keystone correction.

Control Panel

The control panel is very simple on the ML550. It is not lit up all the time, but either hitting the light on the remote, or pressing the menu button will get the lights to turn on so you can see the buttons. This projector does come with a credit card sized remote, so keep an eye on it. It is small, so it is easy to lose. Back to the control panel. The upper most button closest to the lens is the power button. Then there is a set of buttons that are your typical navigation buttons for traversing the menu system. To bring up the menu you just hit the button that is closest to the right rear of the projector. The control panel will allow you to change keystoning quickly by just hitting the buttons above, and below, the enter button. The enter button has the typical look that you find on most keyboards. To the left of the enter button is the source button, which allows easy switching between all the available sources. Although read this whole page for more commentary on that. To the right is the “Auto Adjust” button so you can sync your projector to your computer source. The final button is really an indicator, and it shows a temp LED, and an error LED.

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ML550 Input Panel

Now it’s time to talk about the more important aspects of the ML550 and that is the input panel. It is pretty well designed, and I really like how much the projector offers in terms of the types of sources it can accept. The projector accepts HDMI. More impressive is the picture quality when you use HDMI as your source of material. Many times during the review process I forgot I was projecting from such a small projector.

The rear also has an input for your laptop, but it is proprietary. The cable is included with the projector and allows you to plug directly into your typical laptop VGA port. Because of the proprietary connector, keep a sharp eye on the cable. I would have preferred the projector had a standard VGA port, but this input is a universal input and this means you can plug a variety of sources with the right cable. Other inputs include a MicroSD input and a USB Type A input. These allow you to present your office files, and other media from the USB drive or the MicroSD drive.

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I felt it was important to note a few things about switching sources while presenting. Reading the files off an external drive turned out to be not as straightforward as one would think. However, during the review, I was in touch with Optoma and a firmware update is in the works to make things a lot easier.

One would expect to be able to switch from VGA to your USB drive and have the projectors file menu system pop up. It unfortunately does not auto sense as it should currently. I have included in this section some images to the right that demonstrate what the menu system looks like when you present from either the internal drive, the USB input or the MicroSD input.

Currently, I have had to turn off the projector, take out the media from any input that may be hooked up, then turn on the projector. Luckily the unit turns on and off very quickly. No long wait times like most projectors. A few seconds is really all it takes. Once the projector is on, you can then insert the media device. You should then see the internal menu system. If not, you will want to use the menu system to select the appropriate source.

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