Turning to the CP45’s projector, its abilities depend on which angle you approach it from. If you come to it from previous experience of a typical Pico projector, you’ll be pretty impressed, whereas if you - actually unreasonably - come to it from a ‘normal’ projector perspective, you’ll be less blown away.
Compared with most other Pico projectors, the CP45’s images impress on a series of fronts. For starters, they’re startlingly bright considering they’re coming from such a small unit. This is important on two levels. First, it means the picture looks solid and dynamic rather than wispy and flat. Second, it means you can watch the picture larger than you often can with Pico projectors. Even at 47-50in with a little ambient light around the CP45’s pictures are perfectly watchable.
The projector also impresses with its colours. Many Pico projectors suffer either muted or glaringly unnatural colour palettes, but while the CP45 might lack the resolution to deliver subtle colour blends, at least its tones look decently authentic and punchy.
Next on the projector’s ‘hit list’ is its freedom from the sort of dotting, fizzing noise that often comes with Pico projectors. Also, it’s even got a pretty good contrast range - something only a handful of other Pico models can boast.
The projector’s biggest weakness finds colours ‘bleeding’ and trailing when showing reasonably swift camera pans. This is so noticeable that it quickly starts to inform the way you shoot using the camcorder, avoiding fast camera pans where possible because you know they’re not going to look great when you play them back. (For the record, the smearing is definitely caused by the projector, not the camcorder - recordings look fine in this regard when played on a PC.)
The final problem we have with the CP45’s projector is its resolution. For as noted earlier, its 800x600 pixel count means it isn’t as high in resolution as the camcorder and employs a native 4:3 aspect ratio versus the widescreen ratio of the camcorder. This means it’s inevitably not capable of delivering the maximum quality of the footage and photographs you’ve taken using the camcorder.
But while it seems a bit daft for 3M not to have made the projector at least the same aspect ratio as its camcorder, in reality the resolution of the images it produces is perfectly adequate for the casual circumstances they’re likely to be watched in.
The last thing we should point out about the CP45 is that during our tests, its battery tended to run out when using the projector after between 90 and 100 minutes, or around 2.5 hours when filming. Though this latter figure plummets if you use the ‘spotlight’ a lot.
The over-eagerness of the camcorder’s brightness adjustment together with the colour smearing issues with the projector ensure that the CP45 should not be considered a replacement for separate dedicated camcorder and ‘big screen’ solutions.
But that’s not really the point. For the CP45 is expressly designed to be a convenience product for recording and watching ‘on the go’, and in this respect it both performs better than expected (especially if you adapt your shooting techniques to its limitations) and represents decent value to boot.
Even better, it’s likely to inspire gadget envy in anyone who beholds it, and this alone is enough to set the pulse of any self-respecting gadget hound racing!