Budget price. Good video quality. Long lamp life. Built-in rechargeable battery. Stylish.
Low brightness and resolution. Soft audio. Blurred text in data images.
- Bottom Line
The Magnasonic LED Pocket Pico Video Projector performs surprisingly well considering its low brightness, resolution, and price.
By Tony Hoffman
The Magnasonic LED Pocket Pico Video Projector ($169.99) is a tiny, budget-priced projector with low brightness and resolution. As the name implies, its forte is video, and it did surprisingly well in our video testing. It projects movies, film clips, and video presentations well on a small screen in a dark room, but it's a poor choice for those who also need to project text-heavy data presentations.
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Design and Features
The handsomely designed Pico Video Projector is glossy black with rounded corners, measures 0.5 by 3.8 by 3.9 inches, and weighs 4.5 ounces. This ultra-thin device can easily fit in a shirt pocket. It has a built-in, rechargeable 2,100mAh battery that, according to Magnasonic, should last about two hours on a charge, a claim that was borne out in our testing. The projector comes with a small, foldable plastic tripod. As is typical of a small LED projector, it lacks a zoom. Behind the lens is a tiny focus wheel, which requires some effort to use effectively.
As is typical of models with an LED light source, the Pico Video Projector has a long rated lamp life (20,000 hours), so the bulb should last as long as the projector. The light engine uses a Texas Instruments DLP chip. Both native resolution (640 by 360) and rated brightness (25 lumens) are low. The Celluon PicoPro, our Editors' Choice pocket projector, has a rated brightness of 32 lumens, but because it is laser-based, its perceived brightness may be about twice that.
The Pico Video Projector has limited connectivity choices. It relies on an MHL-enabled micro-HDMI input port and includes an HDMI cable for connecting to a computer or video source's standard HDMI port, as well as an MHL adaptor for connecting to MHL-supported devices. (iOS mobile devices require an Apple Digital AV Adapter, which is not included.) It also has a micro-USB port for charging the projector over an included cable connected to a computer, and an audio-out jack. For many users, the HDMI-MHL input combo will suffice; this is the same set of ports found in the Celluon PicoPro, but the PicoPro can connect wirelessly and comes with a power block for charging the projector from an outlet.
For video, I set the projector in a dark room about 4 feet from the screen, where it threw a 36-inch image (measured diagonally). For data-image testing, the optimal image size seemed about 32 inches. The image was somewhat degraded with the introduction of ambient light.
Video quality was surprisingly good, especially considering this projector's low brightness and resolution. I noticed spurious color in a couple of scenes, but otherwise there was almost no tinting. The Pico Video Projector did a decent job of handling detail in both bright and dark areas. Colors were well saturated but not overly so, and they lacked the glaring or garish feel often seen in color from LED projectors. Rainbow artifacts—little red-green-blue flashes, usually seen in bright areas against dark backgrounds—were all but absent. Provided that you project in a dark room or space and keep your image size relatively small, you could use the Pico Video Projector for long clips or even movies. You will want to sit close to the projector or use headphones or a set of powered external speakers, as audio from the projector's 1-watt speaker is predictably faint (which is the norm for pocket projectors).
Although the Pico Video Projector can be used by businesses as well as consumers, and we put it through our normal data-image testing using the DisplayMate suite, I would limit its business use to video because of the projector's tendency to blur text in data images. Colors were well saturated, although there was a hint of green in some white backgrounds. In our text testing, black text on white was readable though not sharp at 10.5 points, and white text on black was readable at 12 points, though once again a bit fuzzy. This is in marked contrast to the Philips Pocket Projector PPX4010 , which showed excellent color balance, and which displayed highly readable text—both white text on black and black text on white—at sizes as small as 9 points. And the Celluon PicoPro showed highly readable text—both white text on black and black text on white—down to 6 points, although it had trouble with certain color combinations.
I noticed a few rainbow artifacts in the Pico Video Projector's data images. This effect, which we often see in DLP projectors, is modest enough with this projector that it won't be an issue, even for people sensitive to it.
Video is the name of the game for the Pico Video Projector. If you need a pint-sized projector for text presentations, you'd be much better off with the Philips PPX4010 or the Celluon PicoPro. The PicoPro also does well at video—its well-roundedness a key factor in making it our Editors' Choice—but it sells for more than twice as much as the Pico Video Projector. If you want to show movies or video business presentations to small groups in a dark room, the Magnasonic LED Pocket Pico Video Projector can handle things without breaking the bank.
As Analyst for printers, scanners, and projectors, Tony Hoffman tests and reviews these products and provides news coverage for these categories. Tony has worked at PC Magazine since 2004, first as a Staff Editor, then as Reviews Editor, and more recently as Managing Editor for the printers, scanners, and projectors team. In addition to editing, Tony has written articles on digital photography and reviews of digital cameras, PCs, and iPhone apps Prior to joining the PCMag team, Tony worked for 17 years in magazine and journal… More »
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