Compact. Portable. Rechargeable battery. 720p basic HD resolution. Wealth of connectivity. Long-lasting LED light source.
Feeble audio. Oversaturated colors (particularly reds) in photos and video. Lacks wireless connectivity.
- Bottom Line
AAXA's P300 Neo Pico Projector offers easy packability, long battery life, and flexible connectivity, making it a top pick for frequent travelers.
The AAXA P300 Neo ($294) is an upgrade to the AAXA P300, the first battery-powered pico projector we tested. The P300 Neo is slightly brighter than the original P300, and although the Neo's resolution is marginally lower, its ratio is more suitable to displaying movies and other widescreen content. It has reasonably clear image quality and a wide range of connectivity choices, including displaying content stored on a microSD card or USB thumb drive, though it lacks wireless connectivity. Its portability and long battery life make the Neo a solid projector to toss in your bag for on-the-road use.
Tiny Widescreen DLP Projector
A DLP projector with an LED-based light source, the P300 Neo has 720p (1,280-by-720) basic HD native resolution, slightly less than the original P300's 1,280-by-800, but its aspect ratio is more suitable for movies and other widescreen content. Its rated brightness is 420 lumens, a step up from the original P300, which was rated at 300. The LED light source's claimed lifetime is 30,000 hours, so the lamp should last as long as the projector.
Measuring 1.2 by 5.5 by 3.5 inches (HWD), the P300 Neo is compact enough to fit into my outstretched palm, and should easily fit in a coat pocket. It weighs just 12.8 ounces, so it is very portable. It looks much the same as the original P300, though it's slightly smaller, some of the ports have been relocated, and the lens has been switched from the left to the right side (as seen from the front). The P300 Neo includes a sturdy mini-tripod that screws into the bottom. Its built-in, rechargeable battery provides up to 2.5 hours of operation on a charge when in Eco mode, according to AAXA.
Connectivity and Navigation
The P300 Neo has a familiar range of input ports, similar to what we saw on the original P300. In back, it has an HDMI port, an AV port for use with the included composite audio/video connector cable, a port for a USB thumb drive, and an audio-out jack. On the right side (as viewed from the back) are a mini-VGA port (which requires an adapter cable that is not included), the on-off switch, and a slot for a microSD card, labeled with the outdated Sandisk "TF-card" nomenclature. (The recent AAXA HD Pico Projector is the first AAXA projector we have encountered that labels the slot "SD card.") On the left side is the focus wheel. Although the projector comes with a credit-card-sized remote, there are also basic controls on the projector's top for navigating menus.
One feature that the P300 Neo lacks, which we are seeing on a growing number of mini projectors—including the AAXA P2-A Smart Pico Projector, the Philips Pocket Projector PPX4350 Wireless, and the XSories X-Project WiFi—is wireless connectivity. Fortunately, it has enough connection choices to leave most users happy.
Built-In Media Player
In addition to showing content from external sources, the Neo has what's in effect a built-in media player. When turning the projector on, after briefly seeing an intro screen showing the company's name and URL, you come to a menu screen that offers six choices: Videos, Music, Photos, Text, Settings, and Input. You can navigate between them either by using the remote or the arrow controls on the top of the projector. If you press the OK button when one of the first four choices is highlighted, it will let you choose between using a microSD card and a USB drive, and run content stored on either of these devices. (Each will appear with an icon and a drive letter: "C:" or "D:", or both if a card and USB key are attached.) For Input source, you can choose between VGA, digital input (HDMI), and RCA (composite audio/video), and project content plugged into the respective port.
It supports the following file formats: AVI, BMP, GIF, JPG, MP3, OGG, WMA, WAV. Note that no native text formats are supported; to view text, you need to save the files as JPGs.
Data and Photos
I tested the P300 with the projector positioned between 3 feet and 6 feet away from the screen. Optimal image size for brightness and detail in a dark room was about 36 inches. With the introduction of ambient light, a more comfortable image size was about 24 inches. In testing, I projected content over the HDMI connection, and also viewed some photos and video clips that I had put on a USB thumb drive.
Data image quality is reasonably good, suitable for typical presentations to small groups. Colors were well-saturated and realistic-looking. With photos, though, colors—particularly reds—frequently crossed the line from vividness into oversaturation.
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I saw occasional rainbow artifacts—little red-green-blue flashes—in some bright areas against dark backgrounds in the P300 Neo's data images. This so-called rainbow effect is less pronounced with the P300 than is usual with DLP projectors, though, and even people sensitive to the effect shouldn't be bothered by it in data presentations with this projector.
Video and Audio
To its credit, few rainbow artifacts were visible in the P300 Neo's video, and it's unlikely they would be distracting to anyone. The big issue with video is that—similar to photos—colors, especially reds, were significantly oversaturated. Switching between color modes didn't really improve this. With video, the projector is best kept to YouTube or similar videos, or clips as part of a presentation, rather than full-length movies. On a related note, audio from the single 1-watt speaker is quite soft, and you have to be very close to the projector to hear it clearly. For louder or better-quality sound, you could connect a pair of powered external speakers to the projector's audio port.
A Projector for the Road
Unlike some recent cube-shaped pico projectors such as the AAXA HD Pico Projector and AAXA P2-A , as well as the RIF6 Cube, the AAXA P300 Neo Pico Projector has the more traditional, rectangular pocket-projector form. As such, it is bright for a projector of its size and offers 720p resolution, which is high for a model of this size. Data and video image quality are suitable for presentations to small groups, though both photos and videos suffer some oversaturation. Like most micro projectors, its audio is faint. The P300 Neo's small size, light weight, and long battery life make it a good choice for taking with you on the road. If you're willing to pay a premium price, you could get the slightly larger and brighter LG Minibeam LED Projector (PH550)—our Editors' Choice palmtop projector—which has better image quality and adds Bluetooth connectivity and even a TV tuner.
Other AAXA Technologies Inc Projectors
About the Author
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, … See Full Bio
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