3M Micro Professional Projector MPro110 review
Some neat touches, but pico-projector technology clearly isn't ready for the mainstream just yet.
Projectors used to be a big purchase for businesses - a few years ago small and even medium-sized businesses might have to share one across a whole building - but low prices have brought that blue-chip cachet to an end.
The recent craze for pico-projectors could reignite interest in the sector, but what we've seen so far has failed to impress us, with Aiptek's Pocket Cinema V10 and Dell's M109S producing squib-like performances. Can 3M's MPro110 do any better?
Its vital statistics don't paint a hopeful picture. It's similar to the Aiptek in terms of technology, employing an LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) chip and LED lamp instead of the DLP technology in the Dell.
It has a similar brightness rating to the Aiptek too, offering a measly 7 ANSI lumens; the Aiptek boasts 10 and the Dell a marginally less lacklustre 50.
And the projected picture quality is, as expected, equally unimpressive. You need a darkened room to view its 640 x 480 image properly and, when you can see it, it suffers from darkening in the corners and very noticeable pincushion distortion.
To be fair, the optics are sharper and more consistent than the Dell's, and it's a lot easier to use, with only the focus wheel to worry about.
And there are some other neat touches too: unlike the toy-like Aiptek, which was restricted to displaying photos and video from flash memory, this has proper video inputs - both composite and VGA.
Unlike the Dell, it doesn't need a power supply. The integrated and user-removable lithium ion battery is good for around an hour of display time - enough for a quick spot of impromptu PowerPoint. It's also smaller than both with a footprint on a desk that's, rather remarkably, smaller than an iPhone.
It's truly a miniature marvel, but the key problem with the 3M MPro110, as with all of the pico-projectors we've seen so far, is that although it's a little better than the competition, it's still not very good.
We'd still far rather have our audience hunched around a 15.4in laptop screen than project an equally small image on a wall and have everyone struggle to read that.