Customer Review

111 of 116 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a novelty than useful, December 31, 2011
This review is from: 3M Shoot 'n Share HD Camcorder with Projector, White/Black (CP45B) (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With virtually every cell phone, ipod, Nintendo DS, and just about everything else that can fit in your pocket being able to take pictures and video, the feature that makes this camcorder stand out is the projector. Therefore, the question is whether having a projector in this makes it something you want to buy.

General Thoughts
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Before I cover the projector, let me say a bit about the other features. As for it's video and picture taking quality, both were fairly decent - on par with my iPhone, though it has a slightly less wide angle lens. I'm not sure why it lists 1x optical lens, since that essentially means there is no optical zoom. It also has an LED light for assisting with video and flash in low light. However, there's a clear plastic cover that sits over the lens and LED light to protect them from damage. The problem here, though is that light from the LED creates a glare into the lens, and really detracts from the resulting image.

On the front, the buttons are all touch sensitive, and it features a built in calibration routine and sensitivity adjustments. I found I really don't like them because when trying to use it, you have no tactile feedback. This isn't so bad when using them to navigate on the LCD screen, but when using the projector mode, I couldn't keep my finger on the right spot while staring at the wall to see if my presses were being registered, even when trying to hit the same button repeatedly for things like volume control. I also found that trying to take a still picture was difficult and often the key press wouldn't register properly - almost like the button was misplaced or much less sensitive than all the others.

On the bottom side is the lens for picture/video, the LED light and a tripod mount. I was pleased to see the tripod mount, and it does come in handy (you'll need it, just read on). The top is where the projector lens is and there's a focus knob on the upper right hand side of the unit for adjusting the projector focus.

You can only record either to the onboard memory or a memory card, you can't use one as overflow for the other without inserting/removing a memory card.

The LCD screen is pretty good quality and is a 4:3 aspect ratio - the same as pictures are taken. Video is produced as 720p widescreen. You can't turn the LCD screen off without shutting off the entire unit. It takes a while to turn on and also plays a pretty loud start-up jingle that cannot be turned off, even if volume is at its lowest setting.

OK, so on to the projector. The product specs say it can produce up to a 65" image. In reality, it can produce images much larger. Don't expect any fancy features.
-No keystone correction, so if you angle the unit up at the wall, it will be a trapezoid instead of a rectangle.
-No image rotation/mirroring/flipping, so you can't suspend it, project upside down, or project onto a transparent screen from behind.
-No adjustable image size/zoom, so the image size is purely dependent on how far from the wall the projector sits.
-The skip forward button works fine for images, but doesn't seem to work when video content it being displayed. You can fast-forward, but not skip.

Included features:
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-Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation have a -2 through +2 adjustment. Effects on the first two are pretty minimal, even in a perfectly dark room.
-Slideshow mode is available but has a lot of quirks. The biggest downside is there isn't any slideshow button or option that's directly accessible. You have to enter the file browsing mode, navigate into the menu settings, go to options, set the slideshow option (none, repeat all, repeat one file, or random). Yes, that's right, you can't just be viewing an image then hit slideshow to auto-flip through the rest of the images then stop. That's the way most things work for slideshow, but you can't do that. Not only that, but if you're in a file directory that contains images, you have to back out of it to the folder level, then go into the options, set the slideshow mode, then go back into the file directory and start viewing an image. To turn the slideshow mode off, you then must repeat the steps.
-You can set image/video quality to various settings. One feature I don't understand is the option for 8MP stills even though the sensor is 5MP. I assume it just upsamples the images.
-The unit accepts video and audio input to be projected and includes the appropriate composite a/v cable. While it also has a mini-HDMI connector, no cable is included for it. This is unfortunate since most computers and laptops now have HDMI out, but definitely not composite. If you're planning to use this for projecting laptop content, you'll need to buy the appropriate cable.
-It has an InfraRed receiver, though no remote control is included or specified, so how can you expect to use this feature?
-Takes microSD cards if you want.
-Cannot have the unit on and charge at the same time.
-Includes a lot of foreign voltage adapters, though these just end up outputting to a mini-USB tip for charging, so you could always just use your PC. USE CAUTION if using the included charger for other mini-USB devices - it can output up to 2A (4x a regular USB port's output). This is great for charging the camcorder quickly (4hrs on AC vs 7hrs via USB), but might fry other devices (not sure if the charger can adjust to a different device's capability for accepting less than 2A).

Projector picture quality
-------------------------
I'll admit the projector picture is pretty nice - if you have a properly darkened room. The colors are good, and the image is reasonably sharp - in the center. At the sides of the image, the convergence of the colors is off, making them fuzzier than the center. Additionally, while the unit can take HD video, it projects at 800x600 in widescreen format. In my opinion, "HD" video recording is a bit of a misonomer on any flip video or cell phone camera. It may have that many pixels, but none of them will have the picture quality of even a decent dedicated SD camcorder. Therefore, I don't see the difference in resolutions between recording and playback as a disadvantage here. Images and video still look as good as could be expected for a projector so small. This holds true even at the larger screen sizes.

You won't be able to use this in a conference room with the lights on or in your house during the day unless you're only projecting about a 12-18" image. As the projector is backed up to get a larger picture, the resulting brightness falls off very quickly. To get a 65" image viewable, I had to go in the basement and turn off all the lights. Even indirect light had a noticeable effect of washing out the picture. As I mentioned earlier, the brightness and contrast adjustments have virtually no effect at this projection size.

The projector is designed such that the image is projected equally in all directions. So you need as much space BELOW the unit as above. So think about this, if you're sitting it on a conference table or coffee table trying to project onto a wall, you'll either need a tall tripod, or your image is going to be very low on the wall. If you simply angle the projector up to compensate for this, recall I mentioned it has no keystone adjustment, so the image will be wider at the top vs. the bottom. As an example, to get an image that's 65" diagonal requires the projector sit 19.5" above the table in order for the lowest part of the image to be at the level of the table. You simply won't be setting a 1.5-2 foot tall tripod on top of a conference table. If you need to clear people's heads or other things sitting on the table, you'll need to raise it even higher.

The second pitfall of the projector for use in these scenarios is that the projector must sit too close to the wall, something like 7' to get that 65" image, and most likely your couch will be behind that. Therefore, you'd have to sit off to the sides or else your view is blocked by the projector sitting on the tripod. Note that since you can't flip the image, don't expect to suspend the unit from above.

Now, I admit, this thing isn't meant to be a full-time business projector or home theater projector, but the problems with the distance-to-screen-size issue, the lack of keystone adjustment, and relatively low brightness even in normal lighting makes it difficult to use the projector even in a casual setting. Actually, the easiest way to use the projector is to get a tabletop tripod and make the projector point straight up onto the ceiling (most of which are white), as long as you have smooth ceilings. This can be fun for kids, but hardly ideal for sharing family photos or videos.

So, while the video and picture quality are good, the projector works, but isn't that great, the wonky menus and slideshow modes, and the troubles you have to go through to get a viewable projected image, I feel this unit is "ok". It does what it's supposed to, but has a number of drawbacks that keep this from being a truly "wow" product that you'd be proud to have. It might draw some envy at first, but it's usability flaws will quickly outweigh the novelty with regular or repeated use. So if you're mainly looking for a video/still recording and just want the projector as an option this might be for you, especially if the drawbacks I've mentioned won't be issues for your use.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 4, 2012 6:34:01 AM PST
Great, objective review. Thank you much!

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 4:53:14 AM PST
TStock says:
Great review! Well thought out, well structured, and very informative. Thanks!

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 7:54:56 AM PST
sambob24 says:
Now this is the kind of review I like to see, concise, complete and intelligent. After reading this review, one really can make up one's mind as to weather or not the product is suitable for one's use.Thank you. Sam Will.

Posted on Feb 22, 2013 11:19:24 AM PST
M. Zanetti says:
good review thanks.
Personally my expectations are so low I'll be easy to satisfy.
It's a fun gadget you play with and then give to a kid who will love it.
$79 on Woot.

Posted on Apr 1, 2013 8:00:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 28, 2013 9:18:21 AM PST
Dave says:
I cannot review this at this time because my significant other uses it, but she has only had it for couple of weeks. While it works well for what it is she suddenly had the projector shut down due to a "Projector Overheat" warning. She called 3M and they sounded like they knew of the issue and will replace it. It sounds like a hardware problem. We are surprised by a word search at this time that no one else has complained here yet.
Edit 12/29/13: After 3M replaced it a number of months ago it has been working fine, good tool for fun or work.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2013 11:23:14 PM PDT
B. Le says:
Although my projector has not overheat, it gets very warm when using more than 15 minutes. There is no fan to cool down the LED lamp; I hope mine does not shut down when watching a longer movie. I will try a long movie soon.
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