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3M Micro Professional Projector MPro110

Lightweight, battery-powered 'pico' projectors sound great in principle, but how do they shape up in practice? Check out our first impressions of 3M's first effort in this emerging sector.

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 4 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

There's been a lot of talk recently about 'pico' projectors — small, battery-powered units that promise convenient 'project anywhere, anytime' functionality. But how good is the first generation of these products? We've recently had 3M's £254 (ex. VAT) Micro Professional Projector MPro110 in at ZDNet UK, and although we're impressed by its dimensions and simplicity, image quality and brightness leave a lot to be desired.

The MPro110 weighs just 152g, measures 50mm wide by 115mm deep by 22mm thick, and feels more like a bulky smartphone or remote control than a projector. According to 3M, this device can project 'clearly' to a screen size of 50in. (across the diagonal) and runs on its rechargeable Li-ion battery for up to 60 minutes.

 

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2 of 4 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

In the box, you get the projector itself, an AC adapter, video and VGA cables, a 1,050mAh Li-ion battery and an RCA adapter. The VGA cable is rather inflexible, making it difficult to keep the MPro110 in one place. Thankfully there's a standard 6.35mm tripod socket on the bottom of the projector, and you'll need to use it.

 

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3 of 4 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

There's not much in the way of buttons and ports on the MPro110: a lens and focus wheel at the front, an on/off button on one side, and the inputs (composite video, VGA and power) at the back. The projection engine is built around a 7-lumen LED lamp — which is non-replaceable and rated for 20,000 hours — and a Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCOS) chip with a native resolution of 640 by 480 pixels (VGA), maxing out at 1,280 by 768 (WXGA) with interpolation. The projector gets a little warm in use, but not unduly so, and there's no fan so it's silent in operation.

 

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4 of 4 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

So far, so impressive. Where the MPro110 story starts to unravel is when we consider the all-important image quality. With only a 7-lumen lamp, it should come as no surprise to hear that for best results — and any result at all with screen sizes at the large end of its range — you'll need a darkened room. Even then, colours are not exactly strong. There's no adjustment for image geometry either, just focus.

This is a first-generation product, so we shouldn't expect perfection. The appeal of 'pico' projection is obvious, and the brightness issue is likely to improve swiftly as new, more powerful, LED lamps come to market. For the moment, this is something to impress your friends with in the pub. Hopefully, its successors — perhaps integrated into a smartphone or MID — will help mobile professionals go about their business more efficiently and comfortably.

 

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