3M MPro 150: a first look

Summary:3M has upgraded its MPro pico projector, but the new model is still more of a costly curiosity than an essential business tool.

The MPro 150 is the latest in 3M's series of diminutive pico projectors. Like the MPro 120 it's a noticeable improvement over its predecessor, delivering a richer set of features than its predecessor. These include 1GB of internal memory, USB support, a microSD card slot and 15 lumens of brightness. The MPro 150 costs £349.99 (inc. VAT) from 3M, and slightly less from various online stores.

Weighing 158g and measuring 24mm high by 60mm wide by 130mm deep, the MPro 150 has a solid, all-black construction that can just about fit in a pocket or easily slide into a laptop bag. A mini-tripod is supplied, which attaches to the unit's standard threaded tripod mount. The projector has a small built-in flip stand that feels flimsy but is effective enough.

The MPro 150 features a microSD card slot and comes with a 2GB card

Connecting the projector to a DVD player or notebook is easy, with RCA and VGA adapters supplied. USB connectivity and built-in storage (1GB internal plus the supplied 2GB microSD card) allows the MPro 150 to take content on-board and display it free of a PC connection. The device supports Word, PowerPoint, Excel and PDF files, BMP and JPG images as well as MP3, MP4 and H.264 media files.

An iPhone adapter will cost you £29.62 extra

3M does not bundle an iPhone adapter with the MPro 150, but sells one as an optional extra (£29.62 inc. VAT). The MPro 150 is naturally suited for projecting content from a phone and it's a shame 3M has neglected to provide out-of-the-box support for Apple's popular handset in a £349.99 (inc. VAT) device.

The MPro 150's on-screen user interface could be more informative

The new user interface also proved disappointing, with gaudy icons and no text descriptions. Familiarising yourself with the projector's various options is a case of either studying the manual or trial-and-error.

The MPro 150's VGA-resolution projection engine uses LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology, and the unit's specifications claim to be able to project images ranging in size from 8in. to 50in. (measured across the diagonal). It's difficult to focus a 50in. image properly, though, and the picture is distinctly washed-out at the required projection distance. The optimal picture size seems to be about 25 inches.

The projector includes a pair of 0.5-watt speakers, and these provide the volume and quality you'd expect from half a watt — moderate on both counts. A 3.5mm audio-out jack is included, too.

The most significant problem of pint-sized 'pico' projectors is its lack of image brightness. At 15 lumens the MPro 150 is slightly brighter than previous models, but it's still not enough of a boost to make much practical difference. The room will need to be dark if you want to see the screen properly, especially with larger screen sizes.

The trade-off for the MPro 150's brighter projection engine is a shorter battery life than its MPro 120 predecessor. The MPro 120's battery life is quoted at 240 minutes in 'normal' (10-lumen) mode and 120 minutes in 'high brightness' (12-lumen) mode. The only figure quoted for the 15-lumen MPro 150 is 120 minutes; in our tests we only managed just over 90 minutes. The projector can also operate and charge when plugged into the supplied AC adapter.

Although the MPro 150 is an improvement on the 120 model, the key issues of moderate image brightness, limited battery life and high price keep it from being a business tool we can recommend.

Topics: Hardware, Reviews

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