3M MP180 - Get Lost, Cables
Being able to store large presentations, slide shows, and even videos within the projector is clearly a hugely convenient feature, as it means you don't necessarily have to take any separate source equipment with you. In fact, couple this with the fact that the MP180 can run for the best part of two hours off an internal battery and you have a pocket projector that's genuinely capable of working as a totally standalone, cable-free device.
You don't even need to use cables to port your files into the MP180's memory, for impressively it supports Bluetooth file transfer. And if even that isn't teccy enough for you, then how about this: the MP180 has built in Wi-Fi so that you can access the Internet and access a presentation or streamed content you've stored on your website! Or you can just browse the Web at large, obviously.
The startlingly thoughtful flexibility we've just described extends, too, into the types of file the projector can handle directly. The full compatibility list comprises DDC, PPT, XLS, TXT, PDF, BMP, JPG, MP4, MP3, PAL, NTSC, H264, AMR and AAC files - more than enough to cover the video, photo and even music needs of the vast majority of domestic or business users.
Having satisfied ourselves that there really isn't much we could throw at the MP180 that it wouldn't happily execute, we started to set the projector up. Which took all of 30 seconds, given that all you have to play with are a simple drop-down flap for adjusting the image height and a straightforward focus wheel next to the lens. There's no zoom, but this is true of almost all other pocket projectors too. To adjust the image size you just adjust the projector's distance from the screen.
During set up we also ran our eye down the MP180's spec sheet, and found a claimed 30 Lumens of light output - enough to comfortably get an 80in image out of the MP180, reckons 3M. The specs also refer to 2 x .75W built-in speakers, a 20,000-hour life for the LED lamp system, and a native SVGA (800 x 600) resolution. We felt momentarily disappointed that this resolution equates to a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than a widescreen one, given how many videos and photos these days employ a wide format. But this is a pretty common state of affairs for the pocket projector market.
After genuinely exciting us is with its enormous practicality, the MP180's picture quality slightly disappoints, at least at first. We'd foolishly started to imagine that the MP180's revolutionary tendencies would extend into its performance too, but this is definitely not the case.
Images certainly don't enjoy the punch in terms of contrast or colour response seen on the best-performing pocket projectors - especially Samsung's H03. The contrast, in particular, is really very average, leaving dark scenes looking grey, flat and washed out, while colours tend to look rather muted and tinged with green.
The DLP technology at the MP180's heart also means you can see the rainbow effect - stripes of red, green and blue - if you flit your eyes around over the image.