Optoma’s PK301 doesn’t boast the greatest pedigree. Optoma’s first Pico projector, the admittedly gorgeous but also pretty useless PK101, became a bit of a whipping boy around the Trusted offices as an example of how badly things can go wrong when design obsessions are allowed to dictate over quality issues.
It doesn’t take long with the PK301, though, to realise that it’s a completely different animal. For a start, compared with the super-slim, physics-challengingly tiny body of the PK101, the PK301 is a relative hulk. Still small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and only cause a minor bulge in your jacket, but definitely bigger and heavier than its tiny predecessor.
Its design is also less stylish, looking like a massively miniaturised version of a standard desktop projector. But the design does at least lend it a sense of authority - a feeling that it might just be better than your average pocket projector.
This feeling continues with its connections, which include a mini HDMI, a micro-USB with adaptor supplied, a microSD card slot, a composite video input, and a universal port for PC use, complete with supplied adaptor. iPods can also be routed into the PK301 via a (sadly not supplied) adaptor, and finally the projector can handle powerpoint presentations as well as photos and movies from SD cards.
All of this makes the PK101’s paltry connectivity look laughable. And thankfully, the same goes for the PK301’s picture quality.
Basically, the brightness coming out of the PK301 is like daylight versus the PK101’s eternal night, allowing you to get an engaging image up to around 60in - so long as you can keep room light levels low.
The PK301 delivers an impressively wide contrast range for a pocket projector too, and suffers way less with video noise than its smaller sibling.
However, the PK301’s pictures still lack a bit of colour vibrancy (though this is preferable to the uncontrolled colours of some more dynamic pocket models), and can also look a bit soft - almost as if they’re marginally out of focus.
One other concern is that you really need to run the PK301 at its highest brightness setting to get anything like the best out of it, yet doing this causes it to run really very noisily (around 29dB).
Overall the PK301 is a vast improvement over the PK101, at least in pure utility terms. In fact, its brightness and strong source flexibility is strong enough to give it real appeal despite its occasional performance flaw.
Projection Technology: DLP
Native resolution: 854 x 480 pixels