Is there a practical application to the portable projector? You bet your ass there is. But it all depends on who you are and what you’re doing.
For the last few weeks I’ve been testing out 3M’s Mpro150 Pico Projector. It’s a pocket sized device with its own UI and rechargeable battery. It has a mini VGA input, micro-USB port, microSD card slot and headphone jack. included in the box is a VGA to mini-VGA, RCA to mini-VGA, AC plug and tripod. The AC charger is modular and includes a variety of plugs for international travel.
The projector’s body is finished in a rubber coating and features a small kickstand on its stomach. From a portability stand point the projector is pocket sized and weighs no more than an smartphone with the battery installed, 5.6oz to be exact.
The top of the device sports a set of buttons for navigating the Mpro 150′s menus. In addition to a directional pad with an ‘ok’ button there is a back button as well as a focus wheel, which is situated next to the lens. There is also a small speaker, which lacks any level of fidelity but is great in a pinch.
The MPro 150 supports MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel and Adobe PDF files. That means you can copy your presentation to a microSD card slot or its 1GB of built-in storage, and without the use of a computer (or any cords) walk your clients through a ‘deck’. It also supports BMP and JPG files for picture viewing and a variety of video and audio formats (MP3, MPEG4, H.264, AAC and WMA).
In terms of specs the battery is rated for up to 120 minutes of continuos use with a 3 hour recharge time (90 minutes on high brightness). The LED lamp, which is good for up to 15,000 hours and can produce 15 lumens, can project up to a 50 inch image with a max resolution of 1280×800.
In use the Mpro 150 is very simple and straight forward. You can attach an external device such as a computer or iPhone (I bought the necessary cables) or just plug the projector into your computer’s USB port and transfer a variety of files to its 1GB of storage.
I loaded the following files on the MPro 150: Microsoft Word document, PDF, video file and JPG. They all worked flawlessly, though some took longer than others to load. If need be you can magnify the documents up to 3 times (2x, 4x and 8x) and pan and scroll using the directional pad. In the event the font used in the document isn’t supported, the MPro 150 will automatically substitute it for a compatible one.
Start up time for the MPro 150 isn’t instantaneous, but fast enough – probably about 20 seconds – which isn’t that much of a difference from a normal sized projector.
After about 5 minutes of use the MPro 150 activates an internal fan to help it keep cool. While I’m sure it is necessary it was annoying since it emitted a reasonably loud buzzing sound. Adding insult to injury if you move the projector while the fan is running it sounded as if it is was grinding plastic, leading me to believe that the fan would eventually wear down and break.
As with any portable you’ll have to be willing to make a sacrifice in terms of features and power. The MPro 150 has an extremely strong feature set which should appeal to any business class user. But where it falls short – when compared to a larger projector – is its brightness. There are two brightness settings, but no matter what lighting situation you’re in you’ll want to use the brightest setting, which will still require you to be in an almost blacked out room. Otherwise the images will be washed out and make it challenging to view what is being projected. And as with any projector, as the image size increases so does the brightness, so you’ll need a pitch black room to even think about displaying a 50-inch screen.
The battery life is on par with the manufacturer’s rating. I was a bit disappointed that the package didn’t include a more advanced computer (VGA) hookup. Although I didn’t drop the MPro 150 its build felt sturdy enough to take a few tumble and there is no doubt that the rubber finish would help soften the blow. I particularly liked that they included a mini tripod in the package, which can be used with other devices such as cameras anything sporting a standard tripod screw hole.
3M MPro 150 has all sort of practical business applications, which is clearly the market is targeted for. But that isn’t to say it couldn’t be purchased for personal use, though I think one would be hard pressed to use it on a regular basis. The rechargeable battery, microSD card slot, built-in 1GB of memory and variety of connectivity options makes the MPro an easy choice for anyone running around from pitch to pitch.
You can buy the MPro 150 at Amazon for $354.
- Built-in battery and 1GB of memory
- Rubber finish
- Includes RCA, 2GB microSD card and VGA cords
- Requires a very dark room
- VGA cord is antiquated
- High price tag