3M MPro150 Pocket Projector review

12 Apr 2010

The quality is as you'd expect, but the battery and internal storage make it an intriguing travel companion

3M MPro150 Pocket Projector
Price when reviewed 
355
4

Projectors don’t come much smaller than 3M’s MPro150. Weighing just 160g and measuring 60 x 125 x 24mm (WDH), it more than lives up to its Pocket Projector title. If you were expecting the petite dimensions to leave it lacking in features, though, you’re in for a surprise.

It’s a versatile little devil, accepting both D-SUB and composite video inputs while squeezing in a 3.5mm audio input for the integrated speakers, a mini-USB connection and a socket for the 5V wall-wart power supply.

Unlike most pocket projectors, the MPro150 isn’t entirely dependent upon a nearby mains socket. A 2,200mAh battery lets it venture away from the mains for a couple of hours, and for those that spend more time on the move than in the office there's an optional car charger accessory too.

3M MPro150 Pocket Projector

Unplug every cable from its rear and the MPro150 has another trick up its sleeve. The 1GB of onboard memory and supplied 2GB microSD card allow it to both store and display a variety of documents, images, music and video files, all without the aid of a PC. The major Microsoft Office formats are supported – DOC, XLS, PPT – as well as Adobe PDF files, JPEG, MP3 and even basic MPEG videos.

The user interface is pleasingly simple, but the controls do leave a little to be desired. The directional pad on the top of the projector isn't ideal, combining somewhat fiddly keys with a tendency for every button press to jump the projected image around on the wall. Had 3M thought to include a remote control, it would have improved matters immeasurably. As you might expect, the integrated speakers are poor by any standards, creating a tinny, ear-piercing racket that would be bettered by most laptops.

For such a tiny device the feature set is impressive, but there are substantial limitations. The LED bulb offers long life – 3M claims over 20,000 hours of runtime – but it only musters 15 lumens of brightness. The 640 x 480 resolution is a major compromise, too, but it’s still surprisingly capable in the right conditions.

You’ll definitely need a darkened room to project images up to the claimed 50in diagonal, but just closing the blinds in one of our meeting rooms and turning the lights off was enough for a modest 20in image with reasonable quality. Colours have punch, and although scaling a 1,024 x 768 desktop to the projector’s native resolution left things looking blocky, it was still good enough to keep our PowerPoint presentation legible.

It won't have even the cheapest of standard projectors worried then, but given the MPro150’s lofty ambitions, 3M deserves credit for turning the pico projector from a mere curio into a viable business tool. The asking price is bordering upon the obscene – current US pricing suggests a straight 1:1 dollar to pound conversion – but there's no denying the appeal in swapping a heavy laptop bag for just 160g of kit.

Details

Price ex VAT £302
Price inc VAT £355
Overall rating 4
Image quality 3
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 2

Basic specifications

Projector technology LCoS
Resolution 640 x 480
Lumens brightness 15 lumens
Keystone correction? no
Speakers? yes
Speaker type 2
Speaker power ouput 1W

Dimensions

Dimensions 60 x 125 x 24mm (WDH)
Weight 160g

Optics

Max diagonal image size 1.3m

Lamp & running costs

Lamp life, standard mode 20,000hrs

Video inputs/outputs

VGA inputs 1
DVI inputs 0
S-Video inputs 0
Composite video inputs 1
HDMI inputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0

Data ports and connectors

Front panel memory card reader yes
Other memory media support Micro SD

Audio inputs/outputs

3.5mm audio input jacks 1
3.5mm audio jacks 0
RCA (phono) inputs 0

Miscellaneous

Carry case yes