In the past projectors in the office have always been big lumps of plastic, metal and glass that you cringe at having to drag half way across town on the train when it comes to your turn to do a presentation.
3M's approach to this is to create the MPro150, a pico projector about the same size as a glasses case that promises to let you do your presentations without having to put your back out. But can something so small really replace a big whopping projector? We get presenting to find out.
Measuring 125mm long and 160 grams, the MPro150 Pocket Projector is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. It's light, compact, built well, and simple in its design, with the lamp and focusing dial at one end and a series of connections at the other.
The top houses a rather frustrating to use d-pad for navigating the in-built menu system. There's a microSD card slot on the side is for expanding the 1GB of on-board storage space and that means you could even ditch the laptop too.
Those connections at the base of the device are a VGA A/V, a 3.5mm audio out, USB and power socket.
In the box you get an array of cables with the option to buy more to fit most devices. Cables included are a VGA and Audio cable for connecting to your laptop (for newer Macs you'll need an adapter), a standard RCA set for connecting to a DVD player for example and a USB cable so you can connect to a computer for transferring files.
Apple fans will be pleased you can get a connector to plug it into your iPhone or iPad (handy for making the most of the Keynote app) but disappointed that it's an optional extra. Still you can't give the cables away we suppose.
In fact the need for any cables is questionable as the device, as we've mentioned, comes with 1GB of memory to sideload PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDF, BMP, JPG, TXT, H.264, MPEG3, MPEG4 files on to.
Power up the projector and the interface is very basic offering you a grid menu system to select what type of file you have; document, presentation, spreadsheet, video, picture, or PDF.
There is also the ability to browse the entire file system, via that d-pad, although it's very rudimentary with files listed and nothing more. Settings, for example, gives you the ability to state whether or not video or music files are played automatically or repeatedly but little else.
That's the feature set, but what about the performance?
Turn it on and the MPro150 will whirr into action. The spec sheet promises a screen from 8- to 50-inches and we happily got it up to around 80-inches for a basic presentation although with only 15 lumens and a resolution of 640 x 480 you will be stretching the limits of what is possible at this size. The only catch is that the throw (the distance from the projector to the wall) is by that point quite long - around 15ft.
As for image quality, it's good, good enough for a basic presentation, or sharing trivial video clips with your mates, but it's by no means going to be good enough to watch a movie on and get that cinema experience.
Lighting conditions will be important. The bulb is bright enough to work in your living room or office meeting room with the curtains and blinds drawn on a sunny day - just - but clearly is more effective the darker you make it.
We found that the best results in a fairly light environment were when keeping the screen size to around 30-inches if the footage or presentation you are showing is on a light background.
For those looking for more information, the blub is LED, will give you around 20,000 hours of life before it dies and you'll get 90 minutes of battery on a single charge. Yep you can ditch the power cables too. There are also two 0.5W speakers, and while that will get your noise out, that's really what it is, noise. You shouldn't bank on the in-built speakers but it's nice to have them.
As a concept the Pocket Projector is a great idea, however in practice it's a bit of a disappointment compared to more traditional projectors. At £350 you are clearly paying for the size and initial wow factor of the device, plus the ability to leave the rest of your usual kit behind.
In practice that d-pad is frustrating to use and a lot of the videos we tried to play just weren't supported. Most business folk have a laptop or a smartphone and we feel that 3M would have been better giving a better, and cheaper, out of box experience with these devices rather than try to offer a simple basic system themselves.
As for quality it's good, but not great. It is also very noisy, off-puttingly so, with the projector wheezing as if its about to have a heart attack once it gets going.
For the business man wanting to impress in a dark room this might just cut it, but at the steep price you'll probably wonder why you shouldn't just opt to put your back out and get something that can actually pack a punch.