The Microvision SHOWWX is a laser pico projector designed with iPads and iPhones in mind. This second-gen device from Microvision claims to improve brightness by 50 per cent, but is it enough to get rid of the dimness that's long been associated with pocket pico projectors?
The primary benefit of any pico projector is that it is small and light - and therefore extremely portable. At 122g and just 14mm thick, the Microvision SHOWWX fits the bill. It's a small black box that slips easily into a coat pocket.
It manages to be so small through the use of lasers. It uses red, green and blue class 2 lasers to make up its image, which according to Microvision can extend to 100in. The idea of a 100in TV in your pocket is an attractive one, isn't it? There are, of course, plenty of limitations to consider, which we'll cover later.
All the buttons needed to operate the thing are on its body, and there are just four of the them - up and down, menu/select and the power button. It offers an iPhone-connector socket, a microUSB socket to charge the internal battery, a microHDMI to let you plug into non-Apple gadgets and a 3.5mm audio output. There's no built-in speaker here, so you'll have to rely either on the inbuilt speakers of the source - if there are any - or other powered speakers.
A chunky iPhone cable is included, as areEU/US international plug adaptors and a strap that attaches to the SHOWWX 's end. As long as you plan on plugging into an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you have everything you need.
However, the Microvision SHOWWX relies on iPhone/iPad apps that have the video out function built-into them. This laser projector doesn't simply mirror what's on the iOS device's screen, cutting-down its usefulness if you want to play games on a large screen, rather than movies. Several relevant apps already offer this function, though, including Netflix, Keynote and - naturally - the inbuilt media player.
Battery life is another limitation. At top brightness, it lasts less than two hours from a full charge - short enough to cut out before the credits of many films. The specs of its picture are not also particularly impressive by projector and TV standards. With a weedy 15-lumen brightness (161 nits), 5,000:1 contrast ratio and 480 x 800 pixel resolution, it is not going to impress spec-hounds.
Using LED lighting rather than the lamps generally used in larger projectors has one significant benefit, though - it's rated for 20,000 hours of use rather than the 1,000-2,000 you'd get from a traditional lamp.
Getting on with the Microvision SHOWWX laser projector is about learning to appreciate its various convenient factors, over its limitations.