Optoma PK301 Performance
Another issue with the Optoma PK301 pocket projector is that pictures don’t look quite as detailed and crisp as those generated by the 3M MP220, leaving DVDs looking slightly softer - at least during shots with a lot of depth to them - than we’d ideally like. It must be stressed, however, that pictures definitely look measurably sharper if you use the HDMI input rather than the composite video one.
There are a couple of notable strengths about the Optoma PK301 ’s video pictures, though. First, contrast is unexpectedly good. Or perhaps it would be better to say that black level response is good, as the projector neatly avoids the grey wash over dark scenes that was once so common with Pico projectors.
It’s also good to find motion looking reasonably fluid and crisp on the Optoma PK301 , and that there’s no more evidence of DLP’s rainbow effect (colour striping noise) than you got on the MP220. Which is to say there’s really not very much at all.
So far we’ve focussed on the Optoma PK301 ’s video/photo talents, but broadly speaking the same results also apply to its data reproduction. For the most part this is fine; colours aren’t as punchy as they might be but they’re certainly adequate. Brightness levels if anything seem slightly better. Colours are passably punchy and reasonably crisply delineated - and you don’t feel the lack of colour range and subtlety as much with data feeds as you do video.
The one thing that stops the Optoma PK301 pocket projector from being totally satisfying as a data machine is the slight softness to its pictures - no matter how much we wrestled with the rather twitchy focus ring around the lens. This issue can make regular-sized text quite tricky to read - so we’d recommend using graphs as much as possible in your presentations.
For the sake of completeness we ought to mention the Optoma PK301 ’s sound quality. Sadly, as you would probably expect given its meagre 0.5W of power and the diddy dimensions of the projector’s bodywork, the unit's sound is best described as perfunctory. You can make out what people are saying and there’s a reasonable amount of treble detail, but there’s no bass, and maximum volume levels are pretty uninspiring.
Optoma PK301 Verdict
Optoma’s PK301 is a neat step forward in performance and flexibility terms from other Optoma pocket projectors we’ve seen. It’s also likely to win fans on account of its extreme smallness and £50 or so saving versus the 3M MP220 model we tested recently. Relatively casual users will likely lap it up.
However, the 3M model’s considerable advantages when it comes to built-in memory, perceived brightness and, especially, sharpness may well tempt relatively serious users to tolerate with its extra size and cost.