A pocket-sized projector to plug into your phone or media player
Optoma’s Pico is compact and straightforward; there’s an on, off and brightness slider, a focus wheel, plus a mini-USB port for charging and an AV in a socket.
The base has a screw thread into which fits an adapter for a standard tripod. A carry case, USB charger and AV cable make up the rest of the package. It comes with two batteries, each with a claimed life of around two hours.
The supplied cable has three phono sockets for video, plus left and right audio. Optional accessory cables link directly to Apple or Nokia devices if you don’t have an adapter.
Using it with a mobile phone or media player is one of the most likely scenarios, but here we ran into an annoying problem: the built-in speaker was too quiet – the sound from our mobile was better. But plug an AV cable into many phones and the internal speakers cut out; a pass-through socket on the Pico to get the audio into an external speaker set would be welcome.
With a pixel resolution of 480x320 you won’t get brilliantly sharp images, in fact you may see some nasty jagged edges on text and other lines. On a short animated clip, we found this could be annoying, but on ordinary video, it wasn’t too bad and we could even watch with the lights on. We wouldn’t recommend this for business presentations, however.
For comparison, the resolution is what you’d expect from a decent VHS tape. We tried the Pico with high-quality composite video from a Laserdisc and the results were pretty good not a home cinema experience, but adequate. It supports both Pal and NTSC, and switches automatically depending on the signal received. You can get a picture up to 5ft across but you’ll need a darkened room, and it’s best to keep things smaller and brighter.
Pros: Compact; bright display Cons: Low resolution; poor sound Overall: A handy little projector, but quality isn’t good enough for much more than casual use
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