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The 2010 Pico Projector and Pocket Projector Guide and Reviews

Posted on October 1, 2010 by Art Feierman

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Update 1/2011 - Added are: Reviews of the P1 Jr. and the Optoma XP8000 external battery pack for their PK301 pico projector. Note, the 2011 Pico projector report has been moved up to June of 2011. Look for pico reviews (that will be included in the report) to start appearing in February. The 2011 Pico projector report will cover a lot more projectors, and some combo units (ie. camcorders and digital cameras with built in pico projectors.

Last year we reviewed three pico projectors and a pocket projector in our first look at these new and especially small projectors. There are a lot more pico projectors around a year later, including any number of brand X models. This year's selection of projectors for review - consists of 5 fairly different pico projectors, and one "pocket" projector.

This report has just been posted. You've waited long enough (we're behind schedule). Proofing will take a couple of days. More content about pico projectors - and pocket projectors, will be added.

Pico Projectors shown above, from left to right: Optoma PK201, LG HX-300G (bottom), Optoma PK301 (sitting on LG), 3M MP150, and AAXA L1. Not shown - (the smaller) AAXA P1 Jr., which arrived last.

The P1 Jr. review will post in about a week. The light leakage I mentioned elsewhere, seemed to be a dimmer blurred version of the image, offset a lot to the right (it is more of a blur). When I spoke with AAXA, I asked them to take a close look at the Jr. when I returned it. They checked it out, said it was a very early one (review units usually are), and that the current ones should look a lot better. I'll have a new one to check out in three days. I'll update this page shortly after, once I've made my best determination. (If the picture is significantly better, there may well be an award in it for AAXA. We shall see)!


Pico Projectors - Pocket Projectors - Overview For This Projector Guide

The goal of this guide will be to look closely at the feature sets available: The size, performance, functionality and more. Like last year, although there are more models around, there are can still be very different feature sets, most notably different resolutions, varying selection of inputs, huge brightness differences and significant quality differences between the best and worst when it comes to color handling. This year, in general though, color is better. Last year, none had anything resembling colors found on even a mediocre home entertainment projector. That has definitely changed.

Last year, we focused on three very small pico projectors, and we looked at one pocket projector, the BenQ GP1 projector - which I might note, is still a current BenQ product.

This year, by the time all the reviews are posted, we'll have 5 pico projectors reviewed, and one "pocket" projector, the LG HX300G. Sizewise the LG is huge compared to the others, but still smaller than the smallest "regular" projectors, as seen in this image. The LG may have a footprint that's very small compared to the Casio ultra thin, the white compact business projector I included for size scale, but it's by far the tallest of these projectors. In fairness, most small portables are taller than the LG - the Casio is a rare exception.

The LG's got lots of bulk (compared to the pico projectors), easily more massive than the five put together, yet the LG is still likely to be a viable portable projector where even the smallest regular projectors are just a bit too big. The big thing about the LG is its claimed 270 lumens - that's right - that's about five times the brightness of the brightest pico projectors and 25 times that of the smallest and dimmest. Of greater significance 270 lumens - and the LG's XGA resolution is enough to do a quality presentation in a small room, before a dozen people, as long is there is some reasonable lighting control. No need to fully darken the room to do a 40 or 60 inch diagonal image, as with most pico projectors.

One complaint last year - while the picos could all run on battery, if you wanted more than 12 lumens, sorry, no battery solution. The BenQ GP1 was AC powered only (like the LG). This time around, though we found some interesting picos. Most notably the Optoma PK301, which may look like a tiny traditional projector, but is perhaps the most versatile of the projectors we reviewed for this guide. I say that because the Optoma can run on battery or AC, just like the less bright picos in this review. On battery, the projector is rated 20 lumens, still almost double the average pico.

Plug it in, and the PK301 projector jumps to 50 lumens. That folks, is a game changer (50 lumens) compared to those 9 and 12 and 20 lumen smaller pico projectors.

Speaking of the average pico, we also look at this year's Optoma PK201 - the replacement for the PK101 we reviewed last year, but with more capabilities.

AAXA today offers a number of pico projectors - and we've brought in 2 for this review. The last one, was a last minute decision. That's their new P1 Jr. I figured with its $119 price, we had to take a look. In other words, just want one to play around with - $119 definitely is that kind of price. It's not feature loaded, but it does have a media player. More later.

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