Review Price £279.99
The Microvision SHOWWX is a short-throw projector that works best when projecting on surfaces just a couple of feet away. Up this close, two problems with the device's limited power are minimised. When made to project a roughly 24in-32in image, the 15-lumen brightness is enough to create a watchable picture in dimmed lighting, and the low 848 x 480 resolution is not too apparent.
Try and stretch the image beyond TV-size and picture quality quickly falls apart. Without the power to offer strong brightness, the picture becomes very weak even in a dimmed or dark environment. Stretch the SHOWWX 's image to anything approaching Microvision's claimed maximum of 100in and the image becomes entirely unwatchable. The 848 x 480 resolution looks very soft at large size, and the lack of brightness removes all punch - watching a film at this size is like having a story whispered at you from across a room.
It's unrealistic to expect an affordable pico projector to offer anything approaching the thousands of lumens offered by mid-level home projectors, but other small projectors do offer more. The Optoma Pico PK301 claims to offer 50 ANSI Lumens, for example. However, attempting to get a truly large image out of any current battery-powered pico projector will have a similar effect - it's just not going to work.
Keep your image small and picture quality is reasonable. Areas of block white tend to look a little mottled, the RGB lasers seemingly unable to create a convincingly flat tone, but there's no need to spend any time on focusing - the image stays in focus regardless of positioning. There's also no keystone adjustment, demanding some careful thought about the angle of the projector in relation to the surface being cast upon, if you care about distortion of the image's geometry.
Prospective buyers of the Microvision SHOWWX need to manage their expectations. It's no replacement for a television, not a satisfying halfway house between a projector and a portable device, and doesn't have the brightness to deliver presentations at boardroom size.
Where it excels is in environments where picture quality can take a backseat. Microvision's website sports a picture of a couple camping projecting onto their tent. The image is distorted and clearly lacking in contrast, but when grasping a mug of cocoa out in the wilderness (or the south of France), such problems don't seem so bad.
One of the few situations in which the Microvision makes complete sense
For any less compromised situation, an ultra-portable - rather than pico - projector is a much better idea. Viewsonic's PLED-W500 costs £200 more and is not battery-powered but offers far better image quality and brightness, while being small enough to stash in a bag for far-away business presentations and trips to movie nights at friends' houses. For the time being, pico projectors make more sense as tacked-on extras, as in the 3M CP45.
The Microvision SHOWWX laser pico projector is the full package. It's a battery-powered projector that can be plugged directly into an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with the help of an included cable. However, it illustrates the problem with almost all current pico projectors - it's just not bright enough to produce a satisfying image large enough to make projection worthwhile.
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