By December 14, 2008

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector review

Remember the days when projectors were large and expensive pieces of kit that you only saw at high-end presentations? They used to have three separate colour ‘guns’ for for RGB and each required time consuming alignment and focusing.

Things have come a long way since then and not only are projectors much smaller but that are also more affordable. Go in to the meeting rooms of many businesses and you’re bound to find a projector there somewhere.

A few years ago there was a lot of talk about making projectors so small that they would actually fit inside a mobile phone. While me might not quite be there yet the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector brings the concept a lot closer and provides us with a projector small enough to fit in your pocket!

pico_view

The Pico Pocket Projector

The 10 second review:
Device: Optoma Pico Pocket Projector
Cost: £244.67 (Inc VAT).
Available from: Clove Technology (Go and buy one from here)
Summary: An excellent addition to your kit bag if you have to do unplanned presentations or want to show something off on a large screen but you’ll have to dim the lights is you want to use it to it’s full potential
Best of: Tiny size and battery life
Worst of: Poor built in speaker and relatively low resolution

What’s in the box?

  • The Pico Projector
  • Mains Charger (USB)
  • USB to Mini-USB cable
  • Video input cable
  • Two batteries
  • Tripod adapter
  • Carry pouch
  • Manual and warranty card

If you want to have a more detailed look at what’s included with the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector or to see it in action, take a look at my demo video below:

 

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector unboxed and demonstrated

 

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector specication:

  • Projection Type –DLP 
  • Lamp – LED 
  • Lamp Life – 20,000 
  • Acoustic Noise – Silent 
  • Contrast Ratio –1000:1 
  • Power  – Battery  Operated 
  • Recharging –USB 
  • AV Input – 1 x 2.5mm 4 pole jack socket, AV Input combines stereo audio and composite video, PAL\NTSC(576i\480) 
  • Weight – 115g (4oz) 
  • Dimensions – W50mm D103mm H15mm 
  • Throw Ratio – 1.9 
  • Proj Distance – Min 0.25m – Max 2.6m 
  • Image Size – 0.15 – 1.5m (6-60") 
  • Speaker – 1 x 0.5w 
  • Battery Life – Up to 1.5 hours 
  • Power Input –Mini USB connectors 

 

General

Lets start off by taking a look around the projector.

The Pico Pocket Projector has a clean design and is made form black and silver plastic. Looking from above there are no controls, just a simple silver band and logo across the middle and a simple LED the indicates battery charge.

pico_top

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector top

 

On the right hand side of the unit we have the AV input socket which is a 2.5mm 4 pole jack carrying both audio and video signals. In front of that we have a grille over a small single speaker and then a dial which controls the focus.

pico_right

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector right side

 

Looking to the left side we have the power control which has a full brightness, half brightness and off setting. Next to that is the mini-USB connector that’s used to charge the battery.

pico_left

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector left side

 

On the front is the lens out of which the projected image is emitted. There is no lens cap though.

pico_front

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector front view

 

On the bottom is a battery cover, which slides off backwards, and the screw hole for the tripod adapter.

pico_angled_bottom

Optoma Pico Pocket Projector bottom view

 

Review

When I first heard about the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector I have to say I was rather skeptical, having owned several large projectors in the past, each of them having incredibly bright (and expensive) bulbs I couldn’t imagine how you could build a projector so small and have LED’s as it’s light source.

Having unboxed the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector I was amazed at how truly tiny it is, certainly it deserves it’s Pico name. At a little larger than most candy-bar style mobile phones it’s probably lighter than the vast majority of them.

As I mentioned in the video above, I quite often have to stand in front of groups of people and give presentations. Normally I arrange for there to be a projector or plasma screen at the venue but when this isn’t possible I take along my own portable projector. This last week I thought I would try the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector when I did a Powerpoint presentation to a small group of people. I put the slideshow on to my HTC Touch Pro and went along with the TV-out cable and the Pico projector. I have to say, this worked quite well for me. Sure, we did have to dim the lights in the room and there was already a proper projector screen at the venue but the eight people in the group were able to see the presentation quite easily. Imagine also how impressed they were when I pulled everything I needed to the presentation out of my jacket pockets!

At the heart of the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector is a DLP chip with a resolution of 480×320 (half VGA) while this doesn’t sound like a lot it does work quite well easily accepting PAL and NTSC signals as well as those output from many mobile phones. Lighting is provided by one or more (I’m not sure how many) bright white LED’s. The advantage of using LED’s is that they are efficient, run cool and have an amazing lifetime. Here the LED life is quoted at 20,000 hours. LED’s are also quite robust which is ideal for something portable.

The projector does have a small loudspeaker built in which combines both left and right input channels. The built-in speaker is probably the worst part of the projector. It’s range is fairly limited and it sounds really quite tinny with lower frequencies causing distortion to the middle and higher end. There’s also no volume control on the unit so if your source isn’t loud enough there’s nothing you can do about it. That said, I doubt that you’d buy the Pico projector for watching the latest DVD’s!

One other thing that lets the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector down a little is the lack of keystone correction. For those of you that don’t know a keystone effect is caused by attempting to project an image onto a surface at an angle, as with a projector not quite centred onto the screen it is projecting on. It is a distortion of the image dimensions, making it look like a trapezoid. In the typical case of a projector sitting on a table, and looking upwards to the screen. Most projectors have some kind of keystone correction whether digitally controls or through a control that shifts the lens. The Pico has neither of these but I guess this down to the size constraints.

If you do choose to use the projector to watch a video, perhaps from your phone or your iPod then it does perform quite well, especially if you can turn out all of the lights and project on to a proper projector screen or a plain white wall. I’d suggest that you allow your video source to output the audio or at the very least use headphones. Under these conditions I was impressed with the detail in the image and the contrast ratio, even fast-moving scenes, where you might expect to see motion blurring, were displayed rather well.

In all, when you consider how small this thing is the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector is impressive!

 

Highlights

  • A tiny projector that sits in your hand
  • Ideal for mobile workers
  • Silent in use
  • Ideal for down the pub!

Lowlights

  • Needs to be in a dim room for best results
  • Poor internal speaker
  • No keystone correction

 

Conclusion

The Optoma Pico Pocket Projector is a great little device which is ideal for anyone that travels to meetings regularly but would rather travel light. It’s great for ad-hoc presentations and showing off your latest photos and videos to your mates without having to plan it. It performs amazingly well for something so small!

However, if you are doing professional presentations then the Optoma Pico Pocket Projector wont replace more expensive and brighter projectors out there.

 

Review by: Matt

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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