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Pico Projectors: Overall Color & Picture Quality

Posted on October 1, 2010 by Art Feierman

First of all, as a group, this year's crop of pico projectors does far better than last year's when it comes to color. Not even close. Last year, the best color and overall picture was probably the pocket BenQ GP1. This year, most of the projectors tested can do about as well in color and overall picture, or even better, than that GP1.

Projectors like the Optoma PK301, 3M MPro150, and PK201 were pretty impressive, and while I have some issues with the L1 laser pico (color, etc. and it's Mt Olympus price, compared to the others) even it, and the P1 Jr. pretty much rival any of last years entries.

The Optoma PK301 is the pico projector I took the most images with - as it it is, in my opinion, the best of the Picos in the combination of performance, value, and portability

Remember I have been photographing small screen projections in the 20 - 25 inche diagonal range. Above you see the two dimmable fluorescent lights (probably outputting about 30 watts of light each in this shot). You can also see the top of the image projected from the 3M. Note, that the actual projection screen in the picture is just over 90 inches wide.

I've noticed minor things - for example, the PK301 color is a bit better than the PK201. The PK201 seems to pick up a slight red caste, compared to the PK301, which looks more natural on skin tones, etc.

The photos actually, in a few cases, look a little better than the original projected image. Typically it seems, with the less bright ones, the image looks brighter - more dynamic on the photo, than in reality, with more pop, when I'm projecting the less bright ones at 20 - 30 inch diagonal. Some of the P1 Jr. images actually look better in the photos than on screen. Go figure!

Bottom line on image quality - year two for pico projectors has brought with it, in most cases, dramatically improved color. In addition none of this year's crop that we tested were anywhere near as over contrasty as the three pico projectors in last year's report. If these five are a representative sample, then let's say that color still isn't, (in most cases) up to say a business LCD projector, but most are more than respectable enough to look good, color wise, on important things, like photos of your family. Remember, good looking skin tones are a whole lot harder to achieve, than a decent looking pie chart!

From a color standpoint, the PK301 and the 3M are the best. (The PK301's extra lumens though, will have it looking better in a side by side comparison.)

I am so much happier with the color performance this year... In most cases, color handling is now respectable, if not downright pretty good.

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