Optoma's New Battery-Powered Pocket Projectors
You've been designated to bring the multiplex to a party or meeting. You could slip this quartet of Optoma Technology pocket projectors into your pockets or select the one that best meets your needs. Each contains a Digital Light Processor that aligns its micro-mirror array to reflect light from an LED, creating the picture.
With video sourced from an iPhone, iPod, camera, notebook, DVD player, inserted card or USB stick, Optoma has a model that has your wall covered.
What all these pico projectors have in common are their palm-size form factor, feather-like weight, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 0.5-watt mono speaker and tripod socket. While the lens can be focused using a dial on the projector, the image size is determined by how far you place the projector from the wall or screen. None of these projectors radiates sufficient brightness for an image to be seen blown up in a well-lit room. Your best bet is projecting in total or near darkness. In situations where you can't control the ambient light, you'll have to settle for an image size measured in inches rather than feet.
Brightness is measured in lumens. None of these models comes anywhere close to the brightness provided by a larger projector. For example, the EP721 SVGA DLP Multimedia Projector from Optoma puts out 2200 lumens. Compare that to the PK201(pictured above) at only 20 lumens. Of course, the EP721 measures 13.4 x 5 x 10.3 inches, weighs 4 pounds, and must be plugged into a wall outlet, while the PK201 measures 2.4 x 0.7 x 4.6 inches, weighs just 5.6 ounces with battery, and can run up to an hour without external power.
The brightest of Optoma's pico bunch is the PK301 Pocket Projector (left). Using the included battery, the PK301's 20 lumens is equal to the illumination of the PK201. However, when plugged into an outlet or by using the optional PK33LPR High-Power Battery Pack, the PK301 can run for 45 minutes at 50 lumens.
Optoma's pico projectors are unequal in their capabilities, which is why we're presenting the chart below. For example, the PK101 can display video from an iPod using the included dock connector, or from the composite video output of a device like a portable DVD player, but it doesn't accept a VGA signal from a computer. All the other models can be hooked up to a computer's VGA output, though instead of using the common 15-pin interface, Optoma uses an 18- or 24-pin "universal" connector, which in effect is proprietary, but includes or sells accessory cables that accommodate a range of source components.
Some of the models contain firmware that can decode and play photos, videos or PowerPoint slides from an inserted memory card or USB flash drive. (You may need an accessory adapter to accommodate your media.) This makes a pico projector even more portable, since you may not need to bring along a notebook, which traditionally does the decoding and provides all storage. However, you may first have to run the included utility, the Optoma Pro Video Encoder software for Windows, before transferring the files to a projector-compatible MicroSD card, or stick or to the internal memory in some models. The PK102 contains 4GB, which can store up to 6000 stills or eight hours of low-res video. The PK201 and PK301each have 28MB of memory, so there's relatively little internal storage and you'd be well served with a MicroSD card.
Optoma's Pico Pocket Projectors
|Native Resolution||640 x 480||480 x 320||854 x 480||854 x 480|
|Brightness in lumens||Not available||10||20||20 on battery; 50 on AC or optional battery|
|Signal Inputs||mini AV||18-pin, mini AV||24-pin; Mini HDMI; Micro USB; mini AV||24-pin; Mini HDMI; Micro USB; mini AV|
|Included cables||iPod dock connector; USB for charging||VGA to 18; USB to 18; composite video/stereo to mini AV||VGA to 24; Male USB; composite video/stereo to mini AV||VGA to 24; Male USB; composite video/stereo to mini AV|
|Video file* compatiblity||no internal codec||XVid, M-JPEG, MPEG2/4, WMV, DivX, RM/VB||AVI, MOV, MP4, 3GP|
|Image file compatibility||no internal codec||JPEG, BMP||JPEG, BMP, PowerPoint*|
|Additional features||Composite video output||Projects images & video from USB flash drive via optional female USB cable||Projects images & video from USB flash drive via optional female USB cable|
*Some formats are converted by Optoma Pico Video Encoder software for Windows (not Mac compatible).