The second benefit of the 3M MP220’s impressive brightness is that it means you can still watch its pictures with a degree of light in the room - provided you’re not also trying to make too large a picture. This again is an important touch of flexibility for a projector likely to be used in meeting rooms, living rooms and even pubs rather than in completely blacked out rooms.
Packs a punch
The final and perhaps most obvious advantage of the MP220’s brightness is that it helps pictures look startlingly bold and punchy, especially when they’re running at relatively small sizes - up to around 40-50in. Colours look far more dynamic and rich than is usual with such small projectors, yet they also look quite balanced, with no tone standing out too strongly against the others.
The punch of the 3M MP220's colours also helps tones look more natural. Even skin tones seem quite believable for the most part, which is something that can be said of precious few other pocket projectors.
Also very impressive is how sharp HD material looks when played through the MP220. There’s a palpable sense of ‘HDness’ in the amount of detail and crispness on show - and this doesn’t even break down significantly when the image contains a lot of motion. There’s actually no overstating just how impressive this aspect of the 3M MP220’s pictures is when we think about how soft and mushy pictures generally look on pocket projectors.
It’s good, too, to find colours staying within their correct boundaries when objects cross the screen, and that there’s no sign of the sort of dotting noise over motion sometimes seen with these sorts of projection engines.
The 3M MP220’s main picture weakness is a predictable one: contrast. Dark scenes and dark parts of the picture look grey instead of black, meaning they don’t look as natural as bright scenes do. However, the extent of this greyness isn’t as severe as it is with most pocket projectors, and doesn’t stop dark scenes from containing at least a little shadow detail.
The MP220’s built-in speakers, meanwhile, prove more potent than those squeezed into most pocket projectors, producing a sound big enough and clear enough to be effective in even quite large rooms. Obviously you don’t get anything significant in the way of bass, but nor is there any nasty distortion at the treble end. All of which counts as a pleasant surprise for such a diddy machine.
The 3M MP220’s looks might not set pulses racing as much as some pocket rivals, but it more than makes up for its aesthetic shortcomings with its build quality, the extent of its features, its flexibility, and best of all its picture performance, which comfortably outperforms expectations raised by previous experience with such small projectors.
Serious film fans won’t be happy with its lack of black level depth, we guess, but then the MP220 is fundamentally not targetted at that audience. For the sort of business and casual home users it is aimed at, this is a very attractive option indeed.