Pocket Projectors Group Test

Introduction

Projectors have never been sexy, but the latest generation of ‘pico’ and ‘palm’ models is trying hard to change that. Instead of having to heft a box the size and weight of a small child, these units promise a tiny form factor while still claiming to provide full sized projection performance.

But let’s be realistic – a typical desktop projector pumps anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 lumens. These new pocket models play down their specifications, because the lumen count is more likely to be in the tens or hundreds than the thousands. The new LED bulb technology is efficient, cool and long-lasting – expect 20,000 hours rather than 2,000 hours – but impressing co-workers with your latest presentation in a brightly lit office may not be possible. While the best conventional office projectors can easily cope with daylight, only a couple of the models in this round-up come anywhere close to that level of performance.

However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for work as well as for fun. As long as you’re realistic about the limitations and are working in subdued – possibly very subdued – lighting, these models are fine for small meetings. They’re also of interest to iPod/iPhone users who can use them to share a video between friends. You can’t paint the side of a building with them, but an office or bedroom wall at a distance of a few feet is perfect.

Keep in mind, though, that package portability is relative. You’ll need a full complement of accessories to use these units with an iPhone or iPod touch, and leads, adaptors and power supplies can take up more space than the units themselves. The smaller models are all battery powered, and will need to be recharged. You may also need a tripod stand, because you really won’t want to hold a projector steady for the entire length of a DVD. So the total package size won’t be as tiny as the advertising suggests.

Even so, the potential for new applications is there. In the future, as brightness levels increase, we can see these units taking on and beating conventional hot bulb office and home projectors. For now both resolution and brightness are limited, but they’re relatively cheap, can be used for both fun and business, and there’s a surprising range of features and capabilities among the different models. So which is best for you? Read on to find out…

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