Before firing the 3M MP220 into action, we should talk a little more about its design. Which is actually surprisingly drab. There’s no colourful LCD screen like you found on the MP180, with controls instead being reduced to simple hardware buttons positioned – rather randomly – around the body. It’s about as chunky, too, as a pocket projector could reasonably get without causing pockets to rip.
The mix of a matt black top edge and gloss black bottom edge is marginally appealing, we guess, and we liked how the little quartet of control buttons on its top edge light up when the projector is on. But overall the MP220 looks a rather industrial bit of kit rather than something you’ll be especially keen to wave under the noses of envious friends.
One positive thing we would say about the 3M MP220’s body, though, is that it’s extremely well built, making you feel confident that it will be able to travel anywhere – and in almost any pocket or bag – without suffering any serious damage. We were also happy to spot a little screw hole in the middle of the bottom edge for attaching the projector to an optional but very useful tripod stand.
Powering the 3M MP220 up, the first thing that struck us was that it wasn’t particularly intuitive to use. There’s no remote control included for starters, which could prove problematic if you want to set off multiple presentations or onboard slideshows/movies without having to get up and physically walk over to the projector (You can get a remote as an optional extra, though.)
Also at first we couldn’t see anyway of moving around the Android-powered onscreen menus. Eventually we twigged that the small button at the centre of the main button cluster is touch sensitive, allowing you to slide your finger over it in the desired direction to move the onscreen cursor. This clever idea takes a bit of getting used to, but is ultimately rewarding.
The next thing we noticed was how hard the cooling fans inside the 3M MP220 appeared to be working. The way the whine of the fans keeps ramping up and down reminds us of an F1 car decelerating into and then accelerating out of corners. Except that, thankfully, while the cooling system certainly seems to be working hard, the actual fan volume levels produced aren’t really that loud. Certainly you don’t notice it once the action starts – especially if you’ve got any sound coming out of the speakers built into the projector.
Happily the third thing we became aware of after powering the 3M MP220 up was the surprisingly good quality of its pictures. For starters they’re really bright by the standards of truly pocket-sized projectors – a strength which yields no less than three benefits.
The bigger picture
The first is that you can stretch the picture much larger – up to as much as 70in, in fact – without it losing so much brightness that it becomes unwatchable. This sort of flexibility is extremely rare from genuine pocket projectors due to their usually much lower light yields, yet is something we find extremely useful given that the whole idea of a pocket projector is that it should be usable in as wide a variety of circumstances as possible.