3M PocketProjector MP180

  • Editors' rating
    6.0 Good
  • $558.33
  • Average user rating


  • Brightness and contrast levels adequate for small groups
  • Simple menu system
  • 4GB onboard storage
  • MicroSD expansion slot


  • Poorly implemented web browsing
  • Noisy
  • No UPnP streaming support
  • Relatively bulky

3M has been in the pocket (or 'pico') projector market since 2008, and each new model brings more features and — perhaps more importantly — more brightness. It's a small but surprisingly fast-growing market, with analysts such as Pacific Media Associates reporting a year-on-year doubling of global sales during 2010.

The £399.99 (inc. VAT; £333.32 ex. VAT) PocketProjector MP180 offers 30 ANSI lumens from its LED light source, double the output of the previous MPro 150 model. The MP180's LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) projector chip has a native resolution of 800 by 600 pixels, supporting input resolutions up to 1,440 by 900 (WXGA). At 338g, it's not the lightest pocket projector around, and the large 3-cell 2,600mAh Li-ion battery pack also makes it quite bulky with dimensions of 150 by 65 by 33.5 mm. The battery pack clips in securely underneath, and is good for two hours' use at most, so a spare battery (£31.99 inc. VAT) might be a wise purchase.

As well as connecting to VGA and composite video sources (surprisingly, there's no HDMI input) using the supplied proprietary cables, the MP180 can be used autonomously, with 4GB of integrated Flash storage plus a microSD card slot at the side, next to the power button and 3.5mm audio jack. You switch between the two storage areas via the settings menu. Connecting the projector to a PC using the supplied Mini-USB cable presents it as a removable drive in Windows, allowing you to copy content by dragging and dropping. An AV adapter for iPhones or iPods costs an extra £28.99 (inc. VAT).

The 338g MP180 has a 2.5in. colour touchscreen for manipulating files stored on the internal 4GB of Flash or a microSD card

The control panel is a 2.5in colour LCD touch panel on the top of the unit. It's a resistive screen, so you can use fingers or any suitable object as a stylus. There are icons for each of the supported media types (audio, photo, video and most office documents including PDF), and pressing these opens a list of stored files. The list can be projected onto the screen instead if desired. Although the menu system is logically arranged, we found navigation using a finger to be very hit and miss; we opted instead for a plastic stylus, which improved matters considerably. Document support from the embedded Picsel file viewer is good, although there's limited font and embedded object support.

Top ZDNET Reviews

From the control panel, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings can be configured. The underlying Windows CE OS supports the Bluetooth object push and file-transfer protocols, so it's easy (if slow) to send or receive files. The 802.11n Wi-Fi can connect to networks with WEP or WPA/WP2-PSK encryption, but Wi-Fi can only be used for web access using the built-in CE version of Internet Explorer.

Using the browser is a painful experience. The control panel doubles as a mouse touchpad, with an icon for left mouse clicks and another to bring up a touch keyboard. This is oriented along the axis of the projector, making it very difficult to input text accurately. A keyboard can be projected on-screen, but it's not much better given the poor cursor control. Similarly, website navigation is very frustrating, and the ancient browser throws up lots of 'unsupported browser' errors. The poor implementation of this feature is a shame, and because the Wi-Fi can't be used to browse a network or connect to a UPnP media server, it's also a wasted one.

The good news is that the projected image quality is surprisingly good. The extra brightness makes all the difference, and although you still need a dark room for best results, we found that at a distance of 56 inches (1.42m) it gave a pretty clear 40in. widescreen display; the maximum image size is 80in., for which we measured the projection distance at 100 inches (2.54m). It's certainly adequate for text-based presentation material for small groups in normal office lighting, although not for dark videos or photos. It can be tricky to get the focus spot-on with the focus thumbwheel at the front, though. The twin stereo 0.75W speakers are quite loud, but so is the cooling fan; the unit does get quite warm after a while.

We have mixed feelings about the MP180. On the one hand, the core technology is close to being practical, with decent brightness and contrast levels. But on the downside, the touchscreen and wireless connectivity don't really add much in terms of usability or performance, yet add a lot of expense.


Power Device
Type battery charger adapter
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V
Power Source AC / battery
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Image Brightness 30
Image Size 9.6 in - 80 in
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Connectivity Technology wireless
Wireless Protocol 802.11b/g, Bluetooth
LAN and Wireless Presentation IEEE 802.11g wireless
LAN and Wireless Image Transferring Protocols IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Run Time (Up To) 2 hour(s)
Interface Provided
Qty 1
Connector Type 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15), RCA, RCA phono x 3, mini-USB Type B, mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
Video Input
Digital Video Format H.264, MPEG-4
Video Modes 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p
Analog Video Format NTSC, PAL
Analog Video Signal RGB, component video, composite video
Video Interfaces VGA, component video, composite video
LAN and Wireless Image Transferring Protocols IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Supported Memory Cards microSD
Lamp Life Cycle Up to 20000 hour(s)
Brand 3M
Product Line 3M PocketProjector
Model MP180
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Media Player
Supported Memory Cards microSD
Class digital projector
Recommended Use presentation and multimedia
Type LCoS projector (Pico)
Portability Portable, Pocket
Min Image Size 9.6 in
Max Image Size 80 in
Native Resolution 800 x 600
Max Resolution (Resized) 1280 x 768
Display Resolution Abbreviation SVGA
Native Aspect Ratio 4:3
Brightness 30
Projector Features BMP photo playback, DOC files support, touch-screen display, JPEG photo playback, MP3 playback, MP4 playback, PDF files support, PPT files support, TXT files support, XLS files support, built-in 4 GB flash memory
Projector Lamp
Lamp Life Cycle 20000 hour(s)
Dimensions & Weight
Depth 5.9 in
Width 2.5 in
Height 1.3 in
Weight 11.92 oz
Audio Output
Type speaker(s)
Sound Output Mode stereo
Form Factor integrated
Output Power / Channel 0.75 Watt
Expansion Slots
Type microSD
Total Qty 1
Cable Details
Type VGA cable, composite video cable
Included Qty 1

Topics: Hardware, Reviews

Top ZDNET Reviews

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.
See All
See All