Pocket Projector is an apt label for 3M’s MPro150 video projector. It’s not only incredibly small, but it’s completely self-contained, too. All the software you need to display digital photos and videos, PDFs, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and even PowerPoint presentations is built right in. You can even store those files in the 1GB of onboard flash memory or on the 2GB MicroSD card that’s included. And it’ll run on either AC or battery power.
The MPro150 is just a little bigger than the wee Optoma Pico PK101 projector we reviewed in April 2009, but 3M’s device has a far superior feature set. In addition to what we’ve already described, the MPro150’s LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) micro-display boasts a native resolution of 640x480. The Optoma uses a DLP (Digital Light Processing) chip and has a native resolution of just 480x320.
The tiny MPro150 video projector has an integrated kickstand, or you can mount it to a tripod (3M puts this mini tripod in the box).
And where the PK101 is capable of accepting only a composite video signal, the MPro150 can accept VGA plus audio or composite plus audio using the special cables that are provided. Although the projector’s video input looks exactly like a mini HDMI port, the projector cannot accept digital video signals. 3M also sells a $24 cable for connecting the projector to component-video devices, and a $50 cable for connecting it to an iPod or iPhone.
It should come as no surprise, however, that the MPro150 isn’t much brighter than the PK101; after all, there’s only so much an LED light source with maximum radiant power of just 0.59 milliwatts can do. We had to darken the Lab almost entirely to get satisfactory performance over a large surface area. But we were very impressed that the MPro150 proved capable of producing an acceptably bright 5.5-foot image on our Epson Accolade Duet screen from a distance of just six feet. Moving the projector closer to the screen produced a much smaller image, but it also enabled the device to operate with more ambient light.
The MPro150 is equipped with a mini USB port, but it cannot host a USB storage device; the port is provided so that you can exchange files between the projector’s onboard storage and MicroSD card and a host PC. The presence of the MicroSD slot, though, renders that shortcoming a moot point. A wireless remote control is the one accessory we sorely missed; as it stands, the only way to control the projector is to mash its surface-mount buttons, and that invariably shifts the image being displayed.
3M MPro150 Pocket Projector
Very small (5.12 x2.4x0.98); full suite of integrated software; 3GB storage; MicroSD slot; VGA input.
Needs a very dark room to deliver best performance; no remote control.