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Fun toy projector, don't expect what it can't deliver
on October 12, 2012
After putting this through some real world use and experimentation, my opinion is that this projector is going to be a fun toy for kids' sleepovers, maybe for some parties, etc But mainly it's just that: a neat toy. Please DO NOT expect to use this thing as your main HD A/V projector for ordinary use. It really isn't fair (or possible) to compare this projector to those kinds of units, and here's why:
1. The advertised resolution is only 854x480 (WVGA), but during boot-up and initial config the unit told me it was switching to 720p mode. Theoretically, that'll get you DVD quality or basic HD, depending on which you believe. HOWEVER, I've used it to watch several different kinds of media (animation, TV and film) and no matter what I throw at it, in practice the picture is very, very , very soft. There is a manual focus wheel, but it doesn't achieve anything like the kind of sharpness you can achieve with a regular full sized projector, much less a plasma, LCD or CRT display. Honestly, I'd say maximum visual sharpness is roughly on par with a good VHS tape player (i.e., maybe a 480i picture). My eyes have become so trained to expect tack-sharp LCD and plasma displays that it's really hard for me to enjoy watching this for very long. It brings back memories of watching broadcast TV on my parents' old Zenith tube TV.
2. At only 60 lumens, the picture is pretty dim. For comparison, most inexpensive consumer projectors emit 600-2000+ lumens. To put it into even starker contrast, I own three Coast LED flashlights that put out 251, 339 and 615 lumens. Yes, my smallest flashlight puts out 4x the light of this projector. So imagine shining a rather dim flashlight on your wall: that'll give you a good idea how (not) bright this projector is. In a dimly-lit room in the evening after sundown, the picture certainly is watchable, but you really want the room to be in darkness for best effect. Of course you can make it better with a specially reflective screen or white theater paint, but that may defeat the purpose of a portable projector.
3. The combination of low brightness and a soft picture means you really shouldn't get your hopes up that this will drive a big 120" screen like the advertising copy claims. Over around 45-50", the picture starts to get kind of washed-out, and of course the bigger it gets the more you notice its unsharpness.
4. On the good side, it is easy to use and ridiculously small - I have coffee cups larger than this projector. That makes it very portable, very flexible, and easy to store when not in use. It was easy to set up (less than 5 minutes), attach to my WPA2 WiFi network, make a Roku account and start using Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. My kids were operating it five minutes after that.
5. Also on the good side, It does have a single MHL video input, which (although the ad copy is silent about this) is a standard HDMI port. That's a positive benefit, because it means the projector is NOT a one-trick pony. You can use it with your cable box, TiVo, DVD player, blu ray player, game console, computer, camcorder, camera, tablet, etc. That's awesome.
So what is this thing good for? In two words: uncritical viewing. Kids' use, sleepovers, outdoor projection at night onto a garage, holiday effects projected onto your house, etc. If that's what you're looking for, then this projector delivers a lot of fun, value and convenience. Still, I wonder if that's enough to justify the retail price for most people, most of the time. Caveat emptor, you might like this a lot if you have reasonable expectations, otherwise, stick to your regular TV for group watching, or use your tablet or phone for portable viewing.