It's been a while since 3M launched any new additions to its projector range, but the wait may have been worth it. The company has just announced two super-bright portable DLP LED models, the battery-powered MP220 and the mains-powered MP410.
The MP220 is successor to the rather disappointing MP180. Thankfully, the awkward LCD touchscreen and less-than-useful wireless capabilities have been ditched in favour of buttons and a touch-sensitive pointer. But what's most impressive is the MP200's 65 ANSI lumens brightness rating — more than twice that of the MP180.
As with the MP180, the MP220 has onboard memory (but only 1GB) plus a microSD Card slot. It's powered by the Android operating system, rather than Windows CE as in the MP180. Codec support is limited to MPEG-4, MOV, H.264, AAC and MP3, plus GIF, PNG, BMP and JPG image formats. There's also a DocumentsToGo viewer for office files. There are small built-in stereo speakers and a headphone jack.
A USB connector cable and charger are included, but VGA and Apple adapter cables that connect to the proprietary AV input port cost extra. It's quite a chunky device that weighs in at 422g, with a cooling fan at each end — these are quite noisy, but not obtrusively so. We found the image quality to be very impressive in dark or dimmed lighting, although it's still not up to use in daylight except at very close range. However, the MP220 is much more versatile than the MP180, and it's also 3M's first model to feature a widescreen native resolution of 1,024 by 600 pixels. Its maximum input resolution is 1,440 by 900 pixels. At distance of 3.5m we measured a diagonal display size of 66 inches.
The MP410 is a mains-powered pico-projector with a 300 ANSI lumens rating and a 1,280-by-800-pixel native resolution (supporting up to 1080p input resolution). It also has 1GB of onboard storage and a microSD Card slot, but offers much better codec support than the MP220, adding AVI, MKV, DIVX, WMV/WMV3, MP1, MP2, and WMA to its sibling's capabilities (although it lacks the document viewing capability).
The MP410 also has a USB port that can be used to connect USB storage or an optional Wi-Fi adapter for wireless projection. A VGA adapter cable is supplied, but it also accepts a standard HMDI cable. There's a built-in mono speaker and a 3.5mm AV input jack for audio or a composite video cable, but oddly there's no audio output connector.
The MP410's brightness makes it almost usable in bright rooms, but it cannot hope to compete with desktop models. However, for a device this size the quality is remarkable, and the lens gives an 80in. diagonal display from a distance of 2.6m. Unsurprisingly, it does run very hot.
LED technology has progressed in leaps and bounds, and these two new models are the first we've seen that offer serious performance in these form factors. The widescreen native resolution is also a good step forward given the prevalence of widescreen material these days. Prices are high, but convenience and portability rarely come cheap.
The MP220 costs £333.32 (ex. VAT), while the MP410 £416.66 (ex. VAT). Both projectors are available immediately from the 3M Select online store.