The 3M PocketProjector MP180 is ridiculously small. When the review unit arrived out our door, we thought someone had delivered the projector’s power adapter. In fact, thanks to a built-in battery, the MP180 doesn’t even need a powerbrick. Having won us over on form, then, the question is: how well does it project?
Size and Look
Just to reiterate: the PocketProjector MP180 is just 150x65x33mm and weighs 338g. You could – just about – fit one in your trouser pocket, although you’d be subjected to a barrage of “is that a projector in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?” jokes.
The device is also coated in an extremely pleasant rubberised coating – if you like your gadgets tactile, the MP180 is arguably the most stroke-friendly on the market.
The touchscreen controls, however, are less easy on the fingers. They’re a bit fiddly (using old-school resistive touch technology) and the menus can be confusing. There’s no dedicated home button, for example, which means a complete restart of the projector is needed when you’ve finished with the internet option. Annoying.
The whole interface looks incredibly old-school – although in an alienating, rather than endearing, way. To be honest, it felt like we should have been poking it with a stylus.
Once you learn how to access the features, you’ll realise that the device is packed with them. It can connect to your Wifi to projector webpages, while also play videos, music and pictures stored on the 4GB onboard memory (or from the microSD card slot), as well as stream from Bluetooth and output Office documents.
Another killer-feature is the built-in battery, which allows in excess of two hours of projection on the go. When playing media off the device – rather than through a laptop VGA cable – this drops a bit, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless. The bulb also lasts 20,000 hours – pretty impressive.
All these features would be for naught if the projection itself was terrible – which it isn’t. With a native output of 800×600 (and a maximum of 1280×800), the resolution is fine – the brightness, however, is questionable.
The 30 lumen lamp means that it’s great for dark environments – but in a well-lit conferencing room there would be little to see. Stretching beyond 80in is a definite mistake – as is projecting at an angle. There keystoning effect (where the top of the image expands disproportionately outwards) is extremely noticeable.
In optimal conditions – dark, about 60 inches from the wall and projected straight-on, the MP180 creates a bright and enjoyable (if a little fuzzy) image. The battery exceeds expectations and the huge range of features mean that there are definite pluses to the device. Really – it’s a super, portable projector.
The issue is, with projectors like the only-a-bit-more-expensive (but not portable) Epson TW450 on the market, the projection of the tiny MP180 pales in comparison – even if the other features are noteworthy.