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Dual Review - Optoma Neo-i & Optoma PK301

Hey all! I've had a couple weeks to sit down with these two Optoma projectors and get a good feel for what they can do.   This was my first time with any "pico" projector and I spent a good deal of time getting used to the concept before diving into my review.  It certainly was interesting to see how these types of projectors perform in a variety of environments. Before getting too deep into my review,  I want to mention that both of these projectors have the same "projector" on the inside.  They have some different features and different outside shells, but the projectors themselvs are the same.  The PK301 has a very small shell suitable for easy travel in a purse or bookbag.  The Neo-i, though small in comparison to most other projectors, sports a larger ipod speaker dock type design more suitable for sudo-permanent shelf placement.  Naturally, the Neo-i has larger built-in speakers than the PK-301, and a full sized HDMI rather than a mini connection, but all-in-all, the two projectors function identical to one another.  Both projectors also have the 3.5 stereo output for headphones if you prefer... Other than testing input lag and some basic comparisons between the two, I spent most of my time with the PK301.  Its less specialized features and extremely portable design was much more appealing to me. I was able to connect it to a variety of devices including my PS3 (720P 60Hz).   I tried to use the PK301 as it would be used by its owner - in a whole bunch of different environments, both ideal, and less than ideal.  I also spent a lot of time trying to connect it to handheld devices like my Sony PSP.  The image mediums included a screen, some dry-wall, some rough off-white walls, even on the back of a microfiber chair.   And for the most part, it did pretty well... Brightness is always a concern for projectors, and I'd say the Neo-i/PK-301 can respectably support up to a 40" screen in most environments.    Some may try to argue for more size, but I personally wouldn't go much larger.  Anything above 40" starts getting dim and pixelated.  The good news is, you can pretty much decide how large you want your screen to be on the spot and cater to the environment you find yourself in. The colors on these two projectors are...acceptable.  They aren't 100% accurate, but if you put the PK301 in "standard" mode rather than "brightest" mode the colors look much less over saturated and much more natural  -  a big difference.   I tend to sacrifice brightness for color accuracy, so I kept the PK301 in "standard" mode for the majority of my use and found it enjoyable to play on...but if you are already playing on an off-color surface you may opt for the extra boost in brightness because the colors are skewed anyways. Input lag was not a problem for these projectors.  Both the PK301 on the Neo-i tested the same 10-15ms input lag.  And there are no extra features like FI to increase this number, so nothing to worry about here... Something worth mentioning about the PK301 is the built-in battery pack (something not included on the Neo-i).  It's only good for about an hour with the bulb on standard brightness settings.  But being nearly pocket size, this feature could definitely be handy in situations where you don't have immediate access to a power outlet... My opinion is that this type of projector appeals to a very specialized gaming market.  If you are always on the go and value ultimate portability and instant access to a larger screen sizes...its worth considering.   I can see it being used in conjunction with a PSP (component adapter) or a cell phone (HDMI out) to play games or watch movies on a larger screen.  If you aren't picky you can throw an image up on about anything... If you are looking to use this projector in a more permanent setting, you may be better off getting something like an Optoma GT720 which will give you much more brightness, sharpness and a larger image. -Pete For those curious  - I'll be working on the Optoma GT750 (GT720's successor) gaming projector review in a few days.  And... BenQ has informed me of a firmware update that will supposedly solve the W1200's input lag issues.  I've shipped the W1200 back to them - along with a Deluxe Scrabble board game (long story), and they will be shipping the W1200 with updated firmware back to me so I can take a second look.   Stay tuned!

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