Having to make presentations on the go can be stressful enough, without worrying about whether watching clients can make out your slideshow or carefully crafted product video on your tiny laptop screen. That’s where a mobile projector such as the MP180 can come in handy.
3M’s little projector literally fits in your pocket – although you might need to tighten your belt a bit to stop your trousers slipping down slightly. At 15cm long by 6cm wide, and about 3cm thick, it’s a truly mobile device, although solid with a weight of 300 grams. And this little thing can project anything from a 10 to 80 inch display onto any handy white wall, with a maximum throw distance of 2.5 metres.
You can hook it up to your laptop via a VGA cable, complete with a line-in audio lead, as this pocket projector has a small speaker which kicks out a decent level of sound given its size. There’s a composite video cable supplied, too, and a USB cable, as the device has 4GB of internal memory you can transfer files onto from a computer.
This means you can copy your video or PowerPoint file directly onto the MP180, so you don’t even need to take the laptop to that meeting. Another option is to put files on a microSD card, as the projector has a microSD slot. Videos, documents (Microsoft files and PDFs), photos or indeed music can be played directly off the unit as the MP180 has a 2.4 inch touchscreen with its own mini-menu system.
This contains the relevant video and music players, plus document viewers and so forth. There’s a great amount of flexibility here, plus the device supports bluetooth and wi-fi, coming with an internet browser so you can surf the net as well. The interface is dead easy to use, aside from one quirk. There’s no home button and we couldn’t find our way back to the main menu from the browser. In fact, we had to turn the device off to return to the central menu, which seems pretty odd.
So how does the MP180 perform when it comes to the all-important matter of picture quality? Fairly well is the happy answer. The 800 x 600 resolution picture is fairly sharp and while colours are a little washed out, they do the job. You can only expect so much from a unit this size, anyway.
In terms of image adjustment, there’s just a simple wheel that focuses the picture, and that’s all. But this certainly keeps everything dead easy to use. One thing we would have liked, however, was a method of keystone correction, as the picture from our laptop wasn’t quite square. This wasn’t a big deal, though, as it wasn’t too off-puttingly awry.
Also do bear in mind if you scale the projected image up to the larger picture, towards the 80 inch end of the scale, the quality suffers a little more. In this case, you really need to make sure you’re in a properly dark room, otherwise the picture is more washed out to the point where it starts to look unimpressive. While we’re handing out caveats, the device’s fan makes a bit of noise, although not to the point of distraction.
On the whole, this is one nicely built piece of kit which has a ton of features on board, particularly considering it’s portable nature. You can snag the MP180 online for around £320 currently, which is a more than fair asking price considering what’s packed into this mini-projector.