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Pico Projectors - More Features Found on Some Projectors, Plus, A Typical Pico Projector Tour-4

Posted on October 1, 2010 by Art Feierman

Battery Power as Related to Brightness

Pico Projectors - Brightness 2009 vs. 2010:

2009: Optoma Pico PK101: 0.3 pounds - 11 lumens - 37 lumens per pound (the best of the 2009 picos in terms of brightness per pound - typical brightness, but definitely the lightest of the picos)
Optoma Pico PK301: 0.5 pounds - AC powered: (53 lumens) 106 lumens per pound
PK301 - Battery powered: 21.8 lumens = 43.6 lumens per pound
PK301 - with external XP8000 battery: 53 lumens (1 lb. total weight) = 53 lumen/lb.
PK201 - 0.3 pounds, AC or Battery: 21 lumens = 70 lumens per pound
LG HX300G - AC only: 1.7 pounds, 223 lumens = 132 lumens per pound
AAXA P1 Jr. 0.27 pounds,
AAXA L1 0.37 pounds, 11 lumens = 30 lumens per pound

Brightness Performance 2010 (best, worse - lumens/lb.)

Battery Power
Brightest Optoma PK 201 12 lumens 70 lumens per pound
Least Bright AAXA L1 12 lumens 30 lumens per pound
AC Power LG HX300G 223 lumens 132 lumens per pound

The important point here, is that while we can now cite pocket projectors that claim 100 or even 200+ lumens, those models generally do not offer battery operation, or if they do, it's going to be a hefty external battery pack. To get out 100+ lumens you need some sizeable batteries, and those batteries alone, are physically much larger than today's pico projectors. I'd go as far as to say that the AC power supply for the LG, is probably 5-8 times the physical bulk of the smallest picos like the PK201. Going forward, we will need much smaller batteries than today with the same amount of juice, or we need to make the pico projectors far more efficient. Most likely we'll need both.

While all of the picos can actually do a reasonable job on a sub-40 inch diagonal screen, in a dark room, there's a long way to go, for example, before the typical pico can do a competent presentation in front of a half dozen folk. That doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of applications you can use one for, from gaming, to watching youtube and other movie type content, and viewing photos and documents.

I do, however believe that for this class of projectors, battery power is almost mandatory for success. Perhaps adding an inch to length and 1/2 inch to height would allow a big enough battery to get us to that 40 - 50 lumen range that I think most people would be fairly comfortable with for this class of product.

Last year in our report, I "asked for" a .5 to .75 pound projector that could run on batteries, with good functionality that could rival the (still current model) BenQ GP1 pocket projector's brightness (click on link for the review). For this year we didn't get there, but, the PK301 comes closest... It CAN run on batteries, but will do about 50 lumens on AC power. As I said, maybe next year we'll see that 100 lumens on batteries?

Pico and Pocket Projectors - Control Panels and Menus

Last year only one of the three pico projectors even had a control panel on the projector. My how things have changed. Of the five pico projectors this time around, 3 have what I'll call full control panels. Those would be the Optoma PK301, the AAXA L1, 3M MP150. And, yes, the LG - a pocket projector does have a control panel, but then, those sized projectors pretty much always did have control panels, so no change there.

All of the pico projectors now have some sort of menu system. They vary significantly in features from just a handful, such as brightness and color saturation, to many. None however comes even remotely close to offering the choices of a regular portable business projector, or a home theater projector.

Of this year's collection of Picos and Pockets, only the LG has a full sized remote control similar in size to that which comes with most business and home theater projectors.

Of the others, only the............................................. has a menu system.

Remote Controls

Once again, only one out of the three we have reviewed so far has a remote control. Nice touch, and it offers full control of everything that can be controlled from the control panel. Is a remote critical? No, but it's certainly a fun option for folks flipping through pictures, or even doing a presentation. As pico projectors add features, remote controls will become more common. Expect to see only "credit card" type remotes, as there's little logic in having a remote control larger than the projector!

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