Posted on November 6, 2018 By Chris Kahl
ViewSonic M1 Pocket Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Black Levels and Dark Shadow Detail, Audible Noise
The ViewSonic M1 pocket projector claims a 250 lumen output. As is typical of most projectors, the brightness claim was not met by the M1, coming in at a measured brightness of just 153 lumens at its brightest, which actually wasn’t even the mode called “Brightest.” The brightest mode was actually Standard Mode at full brightness. “Brightest” came in at number two, with a brightness of 148 lumens. The final color mode, Theater, was 145 lumens. All three color modes came in across a very narrow 8 lumen spread, so that is a definite plus.
We generally consider measured brightness of not less than 75% of the claimed brightness to be acceptable; the M1 measured in at 61.2% of claim. We do find consistency here, in that most small LED projectors underperform their claims than comparable projectors operating with a lamp.
In terms of performance, the ViewSonic M1 is not bright enough to be used outside of a “darkroom,” or at nighttime with the lights out; it does not handle any ambient light well. At a claim of 250 lumens, though, this is to be expected.
Though the ViewSonic M1 lists in its specifications that it is capable of projecting images up to 100 inches, this is not a practical use of most pocket projectors. As the size of the image increases, brightness drastically decreases. It is far more reasonable to expect to use this projector for images between 60 inches and 80 inches, which is still plenty large for gaming and other home entertainment applications.
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching movies and playing games on the M1, I’ve just had to wait until the sun has gone down to do it.
We do not expect good black levels from any home entertainment projector, and definitely not from a pocket projector such as the ViewSonic M1. The M1 is priced at $337, and we don’t expect to see what we would consider to be good black levels until we’re talking about dedicated home theater projectors priced at well over $1,000.
This pocket projector is geared for the on-the-go crowd, such as gamers and college students looking for a larger picture than a typical TV. Typically, DLP projectors have batter black level performance than 3LCD projectors, but again, we don’t expect that to make any real difference on a pocket projector. What I can say is that you can tell that black areas of the image are trying really hard to be black, and you can tell they are trying, but they’re not quite there.
When a projector doesn’t have great black levels, we can still usually find some decent quality dark shadow detail. That is to say, we can see details in darker scenes that might otherwise be darkened out on a projector with better black levels. Just take a look at the above photos and notice the details that would be missed if the background was made darker.
ViewSonic did not provide a fan noise measurement, but perhaps that’s because there is next-to-no noise emitted by the fan. To even hear the fan, I had to run the projector at full power with my ear less than a foot from the fan, in the exhaust stream to even hear it. Ambient noise in the environment, not to mention the powerful audio output provided by the twin 3-watt Harman Kardon speakers, will completely mask any fan noise for any audience. Good job ViewSonic!
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