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Sony MP-CL1 Laser Pico Projector Review - Performance

Posted on November 19, 2015 by Art Feierman
SONY MP-CL1 PICO PROJECTOR - PERFORMANCE:  Brightness, Sharpness, Audio, Audible Noise and Image Noise, Menus

MP-CL1 Brightness

Sony claims 32 lumens but mentions that it can be as bright as 37 lumens.  Not sure where those extra lumens are hiding, but using my usual light meter, I found that the MP-CL1 measured between 33 and 34 lumens.

Fair enough!  Now what does that really mean to you?  Well, if you had a traditional projector and screen, then the movie theater engineers (SMPTE) would say that you need about 400 lumens to fill a 100" diagonal screen.  That works out to 25 lumens being enough for a 25" diagonal screen, so in theory, if your room is as dark as a movie theater, then the 32 claimed lumens should be enough for about a 42-44 inch diagonal screen size.

Some say that laser projectors "seem" brighter, per lumen than other types.  I understand the theory behind that, but don't expect a real advantage.  As mentioned previously for any decent brightness, keep image size to a maximum of around 40" diagonal (those movie theaters have dark walls, ceilings, etc. - that makes a difference).  Again, to have an image that seem reasonably bright, I like best viewing the Sony at a 24" screen size.

MP-CL1 Sharpness

Compared to most pico projectors, sharpness should appear to be very good by virtue of the higher resolution.  This is a scanning system, as previously mentioned so that there are no "hard" pixels.  That said, having a resolution that's exactly half way between 720p and 1080p is better than the competition.  As you can see from this image showing small text typical (or a little smaller) than found on most spreadsheets and emails, the text comes out a bit soft, but readable.  Note in some, that the texture of the wall I'm shining the image on, is enough to make the small text harder to read.  If you use a smoother surface or screen, readability improves!


Photo taken with iPhone of Las Vegas


Las Vegas Photo on my MacBook Projected with the Sony MP-CL1, photo of results taken with iPhone, also shows small text sharpness on textured wall.

Bottom line:  very good sharpness compared to the direct competition, but still no match for a low cost traditional 1080p projector (those now start at less than 2x the price of the Sony, but are, of course about 50 times the size!)

The image below shows a close-up of a scene, but also the menus, to assess sharpness.  BTW all menu images were taken before doing the color alignment.

The nighttime cityscape (in Las Vegas) was first captured on my iPhone.  Below that, the same image re-projected with the Sony.  You can see that the Sony definitely loses some sharpness.


The sound quality is small.  The tiny slit on the top just doesn't let the sound out.  Music has virtually no bass, etc.  But it does provide sound, all considered.  Better yet, there's the audio output jack, so you can get far better sound if you are viewing solo, by plugging in a respectable pair of earbuds or headphones.

Audible Noise, Image Noise

The Sony is essentially silent, so no issue with audible noise - no nasty fan to bother you.  Image noise seems ok, I did not run my Silicon Optix disc.  If anything, the noise you will see is laser light source related.  It has a certain look to it.  As I mentioned elsewhere, hard to define, but if you see this Sony laser projector in action you'll notice it.  It's not a real issue, but it is different.

Sony MP-CL1 Menus

I ran short of space on the Hardware Tour page, so I'm showing you the menus here.

They are pretty basic and limited.  As you can see in the first image, you can select sources (showing HDMI, then the second slide is the Mirroring screen if using Miracast. Those are followed by slides for  adjusting color...  Color controls are limited to Contrast Hue and Saturation.  The remaining slides show the Keystone menu, selecting from the two presets - P1 for standard, P2 for using the clip on stand, and a couple of images showing manually adjusting the vertical keystone correction.  In those two you get a good idea of how much keystone adjustment those settings are adding - quite a bit, really.

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