Good text quality. Compact, portable. Good range of connectivity. Built-in rechargeable battery.
Quibbles with color in both data and video. Soft audio.
- Bottom Line
The AAXA P6 Pico Projector is a highly portable model that's best just for text presentations; it showed color-balance issues in our testing.
The AAXA P6 Pico Projector ($439) is a compact and portable mini-projector that is best for businesspeople who need to give text presentations while traveling. This projector is easy to set up and use, has a rechargeable battery, and gives you multiple connection choices. Other kinds of presentations aren't ideal for this model, as we encountered color-balance issues that adversely affected both data and video image quality.
A Classic Palmtop Projector
The P6 is a DLP projector with native WXGA resolution (1,280 by 800 pixels). The rated brightness is 600 lumens when the power adapter is plugged into an outlet, and 350 lumens when the projector is running from battery power. Its LED-based light source has a claimed lifetime of 30,000 hours, so the lamp should last as long as the projector. Better, it is mercury-free. This projector is not "instant-on," as AAXA describes it—it takes about 4 seconds for a screen showing the AAXA name and logo to come up, and less than 10 seconds for the menu screen to appear—but the warmup is a lot faster than traditional projector lamps.
Black with white trim, the P6 is a handsome unit, similar in appearance to many of AAXA's other mini projectors in the company's M and P series. Viewed from above, it resembles a square with rounded corners. In size—1.7 by 5 by 4.8 inches (HWD) and 1.2 pounds—and design, it's a classic example of a palmtop projector. It's a bit smaller and lighter than the AAXA M6 Micro Projector, which measures 2.1 by 7 by 7 inches and weighs 2.5 pounds. With a rating of 1,200 lumens, that projector is considerably brighter than the P6, and it has full HD (1,920-by-1,080) resolution.
Although it lacks the soft carrying case that comes with the AAXA M6, the P6 is highly portable, and it should be easy to slip into a bag or backpack. It includes a sturdy mini-tripod. According to AAXA, the projector's rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 80 minutes of operation between charges when used in Eco mode.
Connectivity and Navigation
The P6 has a good range of connection choices, with one exception: There's no built-in Wi-Fi. On back are a port for a USB thumb drive and a slot for a microSD card, labeled with the outdated "TF-card" nomenclature. On the right side are ports for HDMI, VGA, and composite audio/video, as well as a headphone jack.
That side also houses the power switch and a small, plastic focus wheel, which I found a bit tricky to manipulate. On the top of the projector is a control panel that includes most of the functions found on the remote.
When you turn the P6 on, it will soon project a Home screen that offers six choices: Videos, Music, Settings, Photos, Text, and Inputs. You can navigate among them either by using the arrow controls on the top of the projector or via the credit-card-size remote. If you press the OK button when one of the first four choices is highlighted, it will let you choose between Micro (SD) Card and USB (thumb drive), and run content stored on either of these devices. For Input Source, you can choose among VGA, Digital Input (HDMI), and AV (composite audio/video), and the P6 will project content plugged into the respective port. Media-file formats that the P6 supports include AVI, BMP, GIF, JPG, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA.
Text, at Least, Looks Good
I tested the P6 with it placed about 6 feet away from the screen, where it threw an image of about 50 inches (measured diagonally). There was some degradation in image quality with the introduction of ambient light; a more comfortable image size was about 36 inches.
Based on my testing using the DisplayMate suite, the P6's data images are of a quality suitable for typical presentations to small groups, provided that color fidelity isn't paramount. Text quality was reasonably good; black text on white, and white text on black, were both readable at sizes as small as 9 points. When testing over a VGA connection, many of our grayscale test patterns showed a purple tint, which was greatly reduced (though still visible in a few images) when I switched to HDMI. With the P6, you should avoid using medium to dark grays in presentations that you intend to show to important clients.
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I also projected some photos that were stored on our computer testbed, as well as some from a USB thumb drive plugged directly into the projector. For the most part, the photos looked decent, but in some images, colors were a bit off, with dark blues looking purplish and some reds taking on a fuchsia hue.
When running DisplayMate, I saw occasional rainbow artifacts—little red-green-blue flashes—in some bright areas against dark backgrounds in the P6's data images. This so-called rainbow effect, which is frequently seen in single-chip DLP projectors, is relatively mild with the P6, and less of a problem with data than with video. Even people sensitive to the effect shouldn't be bothered by it when watching the P6's data presentations.
Video and Audio: Passable, at Best
Rainbow artifacts appeared occasionally in the P6's video, but they were less conspicuous than is usual in DLP projectors. It is unlikely that they would be distracting, even to people sensitive to the effect. More significant: I noted the same sort of color-balance issue with video that I saw in data images, with dark reds looking somewhat purple. I also noticed digital noise in the form of shifting graininess in the bright areas of some scenes. I wouldn't recommend using this projector's video for anything but short clips.
Audio from the single 2-watt speaker is faint, usable only if your audience is sitting close to the projector or in a very small room. Should you want louder or better-quality sound, you would need to connect a pair of powered external speakers to the projector's audio port.
The AAXA P6 Pico Projector's good text quality, decent range of connection options, and light frame make it worth considering as a portable projector for use with data presentations in small rooms, as long as you don't require exacting color. The LG Minibeam LED Projector (PH550), our Editors' Choice palmtop projector, has brightness and resolution similar to the P6, and it costs quite a bit more, but it remains our top choice thanks to its superior data and video image quality. (It packs in a TV tuner, to boot.) AAXA's own M6 Micro Projector is larger than the P6 and is also more expensive, but it is brighter and has higher resolution, and its data image quality also tops what we saw from the P6. Both of these are better choices if presentation quality is important to you in a portable projector.
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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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