Pocket-sized projectors have become very popular over the last couple of years and the main reason why one opts for them is for their size. Projectors are being fitted on various portable gadgets, these days, such as mobile phones and cameras, but the market for both, other projector-based devices, as well as standalone handheld projectors is increasing. 3M is one such brand that have launched a handheld projector that has some pretty unique features, such as an LCD display, MicroSD card support and a built-in speaker. Read on to know more about this offering from 3M.

Rubberized finish all over

Rubberized finish all over

Design and Build Quality

Being a handheld projector, the 3M MP180 is relatively small in size, but a bit larger than most pocket projectors. Carrying it around in one’s pocket is not possible, unless they are sporting pants with unusually large pockets. The MP180 is a bit on the heavier side as well, weighing in at 329g. So with a size of 32 x 64 x 150mm and being a bit heavy, carrying it around in a pocket is not that feasible. However, this is perfect to tote around in a bag or a purse, as it would fit easily in them.

The design of the MP180 is neat and the cylindrical sort of design adds to the look of the projector. At first glance, one will be pleasantly surprised to find the display here as pocket projectors are usually devoid of them. The other thing one will notice immediately is that this portable projector does not feature any buttons. This is a neat feature as all options are controlled through the touchscreen display. On the side of the projector, there is a silver strip and on it is the only button found, for powering on or off the device. A part of this strip acts as a flap for the MicroSD card slot and this flap flushes well with the body of the projector.

The easy to use interface

The easy to use interface

The top of the projector features the projector lamp as well as the focus wheel. Next to these components is the fan that helps in the cooling of the MP180. The bottom of the projector features the connectivity options and these include a VGA-AV port that can be used to connect to a gaming console and a micro USB port that can be used to connect to a PC for file transfers. The 3.5mm audio jack is also located at the side where one can easily connect their headphones to listen to audio played back from the projector. The charging port is located at the bottom of the projector along with the other two connectivity options. The battery is housed at the back and this is the only removable component of the projector.

Apart from this, the screw that connects to the tripod and for the stand helps in the tilt of the device. The stand that comes with this projector is sturdy to the point it can be. However, when the projector is placed atop it, there is a lot of wobble and a slight tap of the LCD display will result in the device tipping over. This is an issue that can be quite frustrating especially if different settings have to be altered during a presentation.

Overall, the projector is very sturdy and looks like it could resist a few accidental knocks and come out on top.

Features
For a pocket projector, the 3M MP180 comes loaded with a lot of features that will certainly be more than useful for those on the go. This model comes with 32 lumens of brightness and should be fairly sufficient for lighting up a small meeting room or for watching video clips while travelling. The 2.4-inch LCD display features a resistive screen that allows one to use their fingernail to access all the features. But with a touch sensitive display, 3M looks to be aiming to close the gap between a smartphone interface and a projector, which is always a welcome feature.  The interface found here is like that of a portable music player and the icons are quite well spaced. The layout overall is neat.

The lamp at the front

The lamp at the front

Another interesting feature is that one does not need to attach a power cord to it to keep it powered on. They can just charge up the battery and let it display content for a maximum of two hours. Most projectors in the market lack this feature and need to be tethered to a power supply; this truly is convenient for people on the go. The MP180 also has Bluetooth file transfer and one does not need to necessarily connect to a PC to sync data on to the 4GB of internal memory or on the MicroSD card. It also has the ability to read Microsoft Office as well as PDF files making this a simple and portable solution for those who travel a lot. The projector can play a number of file formats across pictures, videos and music; this expands the variety of files that can be added on here.

This pocket projector has a built in Wi-Fi module allowing one to easily connect to the Internet and browse a variety of sites and project the content thereby eliminating the need for a PC altogether. But there are a number of issues that come along with this. The projector has to be used in the landscape mode in order for one to type and this becomes a bit cumbersome when browsing the web as one needs to be at the side of it rather at the back of it.

Connectors at the bottom

Connectors at the bottom

However, if one does intend to use a PC, then they can connect it by using a bundled up cable that came along in the packaging contents. Additionally, one can also find cables for connecting to a gaming console as well as a regular Micro USB cable that can be used to transfer files.

Rounding up the features part of the review, the 3M MP180 is loaded with features that can be useful for any business professional that travels a lot.

Performance
Being a feature laden pico projector, running performance tests on this was enjoyable as there were many things to play around with it. We put a MicroSD card in the projector and ran our test video clips as well as connected it to a PC to project different content like videos, presentations and other Microsoft Office files.

The 3M MP180 can read a wide variety of formats and output content at native resolution of SVGA 800 x 600. While watching SD content of our test video clips from the MicroSD card we observed that the brightness levels are pretty good and one can watch content even with ambient lighting on. With the lights off, the projector displays content really well and with a throw distance of about 2 meters, the video quality observed was good.

Video quality is good

Video quality is good

While viewing text documents as well as spread sheets we noticed that all the texts were visible and clearly legible. One will find the ability to read Microsoft Office and PDF files directly off the projector, as a convenient option to output content directly instead of tethering the projector to a PC. While playing videos off the PC we observed that the video quality had not dropped and it displayed at the same quality as it did when it ran video clips from the MicroSD card. The sound quality of the projector is pretty good.

When it comes to the basic performance, this projector delivers.

Verdict
The 3M MP180 is available in India at a market operating price of Rs. 29,990. The projector does well in terms of design and build quality but where it excels is in the feature lists. On paper the specifications look very impressive and they deliver on most counts, however, there are some niggling issues that go along with the basic functionality. The keyboard is a bit irritating to type on as there is no stylus and the ability to have the keyboard in landscape mode only when one is holding the stylus is rather frustrating. The lack of an HDMI connector makes the device limited as compared to other pocket projectors in the market. Though the device can be used without needing to be connected to a power supply not many people are going to be using it while traveling and this pretty much defeats the purpose of adding a big battery. The brand could have instead removed the battery and made the projector a lot more compact instead.

Easy to carry around

Easy to carry around

Other than the above mentioned points this is a very good projector and the brand has priced it competitively as well. If one does not have an issue with these things which can be gotten used to with time, then this pocket projector would be a good option to consider.

Publish date: March 1, 2012 9:13 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:43 pm

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,