Projector Reviews

Sony MP-CL1 Pico Laser Projector Review – Hardware Tour

SONY MP-CL1 PICO LASER PROJECTOR – HARDWARE TOUR:  Overview, Lens, Power and Inputs, Speaker Slot, Clip on Stand, Lens Throw, Keystone Correction

Sony MP-CL1 Hardware Overview

The most obvious thing about the MP-CL1 projector is it’s smart phone type physical size.  At only 0.5 inches thick (approximate 12mm), it’s thinner than the several old pico projectors gathering dust on shelves around here.

The lens is recessed in the front, and that’s all that you will find there.  All the controls and inputs are on what is the right side, if you are looking at the projector from the back.

The speaker’s sound exits the top of the projector near the back.

The MP-CL1 Lens

This is your basic fixed lens – that is – no zoom capability.  But even normal fixed lenses have some sort of focus ring.  Not this projector ‘s lens however, thanks to the laser source.  Place the projector 1 foot from the screen or wall, or 5+ feet, it just doesn’t matter, the laser based image is always in focus, one of the unique benefits of a pure laser system.

If, as is true in the case of large commercial projectors, lasers are used to hit phosphors to create a white light source, then you still have the usual need to focus, but not with this little guy.  FYI, lens throw distances and keystone correction info is further down this page.

Sony MP-CL1 Input and Connector Panel

From the front of the right side (right side when viewed from the back) first are some small ventilation holes.  (There are more underneath.)

Sony_MP-CL1_projector_side
Side view of Sony MP-CL1 showing inputs and control panel features

 

Next comes the USB out, followed by a stereo mini jack with audio output.

That’s followed by the mini-HDMI input (with MHL).  Ah, please don’t worry, as Sony provides a nice little HDMI to HDMI-mini connector with the projector, so you can use your normal HDMI cable.

Then comes Sony’s mini – or maybe I should say “micro” joystick.  It works pretty well, move it up/down/left/right for menu selections etc., and just press straight in for Enter (or to launch the menus).

Further to the back is Power button (once for on, twice to power down.

Then there’s a micro-USB jack.  This one serves only one purpose, and that’s to charge the MP-CL1.  The projector comes with a USB to micro-USB short cable, so just plug it into your laptop, wall USB adapter, etc., to charge it up.

Finally, toward the very back is a small slot for the carry strap.  That’s a nice touch.  Nicer would have been if the projector also came with a pouch or bag to hold it and the accessories.  Instead the box it comes in works nicely for that purpose, but it’s much larger than I would like.

You can also get an optional charger for AC based charging.  The Sony will charge from a typical USB source in about 6.3 hours vs. 3.3 hours with AC.  

Either way, since the projector will only play on batteries for about 2 hours maximum, the projector will slowly drain power when in use even while you are charging it.  That’s hardly unusual, though, for pico and pocket projectors.

Sony MP-CL1 Speaker

The only other distinguishing anomaly from the top of the flat smooth case, is that there’s a back piece (that doesn’t come off) that’s about 1/2 inch in depth.  At first glance you see a small slot about big enough for a normal flat screwdriver blade.  It looks like you could remove that section using that screwdriver, but you don’t want to be trying to do that!

In reality, that thin slot is where the projector outputs sound from it’s small 1 watt speaker.  1 watt speakers are pretty common, even on far larger lamp based projectors, but don’t expect much in the way of sound quality or volume to emanate from that tiny slot.  Call the sound “adequate,” but no more than that.  My iPhone 6 easily offers superior sound.  If you want more sound, or better sound, and your source is feeding sound directly to the projector (HDMI, etc.), try the audio out and an external powered speaker if you don’t mind some extra bulk and weight.

The MP-CL1 projector stand

Clever what can be done with a fraction of a penny’s worth of plastic.  The included little stand snaps onto the front or the rear.  On the front it raises up the angle of the projector, while on the rear, it can be used to set up the projector almost vertically to shine on the ceiling.  As mentioned elsewhere, one problem with lightweight pico projectors is that heavy cables can make keeping the projector pointing where you want it to, to be a bit of a challenge.  But, ultimately the stand does work well, as designed.  A bit more adjustment would be nice, and I still like the idea of a genuine tripod screw thread, but this projector might just be too thin to support one!

Click Image to Enlarge

Sony MP-CL1 Projector - Lens Throw

MP-CL1 Distance and Image Size:  Three Examples
Screen Size Distance
20 inch 22.6 inch
40 inch 45.3 inch
 80 inch 90.5 inch

All considered the Sony’s fixed throw lens would be considered slightly short throw.  That works out pretty well, based on not trying to project too large an image to begin with.

Keystone Correction

The Sony MP-CL1 is nicely equipped as far as adjusting the image to keep it properly rectangular.  There’s an ample supply of vertical range using the manual adjustment.  In addition, there are two built in settings.

One of the presets is for when you are using the stand.