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Pico Projector: How to Choose a Mini Portable Projector?

Pico Projector: How to Choose a Mini Portable Projector?

March 31, 2020

Not too long ago, it was a pipe dream to think of a projector that can seamlessly fit into your denim pockets or a small corner in your backpack.  Today, super portable projects are everywhere. The smallest types are the pico projectors that have taken the market by storm.

Pico projectors are pocket-sized marvels that are a great companion for business travelers or anyone else that holds regular presentations of any kind. They typically come as stand-alone projectors, but some models are designed to also function as smartphones or tablets. Additionally, you will find them in a wide range of sizes, with varying specs.  

 How can you choose the right pico mini portable projector? How can you get value for money? This article holds everything you should consider in your decision-making process.

Pico Projector: How to Choose a Mini Portable Projector

Budget

You can find pico projectors for less than $200, but there are also high-end models that can reach $1000+. Settle on a budget before you continue your search. Create a checklist of the features that are must-haves on your ideal projector to set a realistic budget and avoid any confusion.  

Projector Size

Pico mini portable projectors are generally as small as your average smartphone, which is why they can fit anywhere. However, some of them are as big as a 7-inch phablet. The size and weight are usually influenced by the features available. So if you are looking for an ultraportable projector, you should consider a pico projector that just does the basics.

The Underlying Technology

Pico projectors don’t come with the same projector technology. You need to know the various options available and settle for the one that appeals to you the most. The technologies used in most pico models in the market today include:

  • DLP technology: projectors with this technology use Dual Light Process to manage your presentations. Most popular pico projectors are based on this technology. It holds a few advantages such as high colorcontrast, smooth motion, deeper blacks than other technologies, and more.
  • LCD technology: with this option, the image is processed using Liquid Crystal Display technology.  Some of the top advantages of this technology include sharper images, brighter images, and colors, lower energy consumption, quieter projection, etc.
  • LCoS:  projectors based on the Liquid Crystal on Silicon technology feature a little bit of DLP and LCD technologies. The Laser-LCoS and Laser Beam Steering technologies are variants loosely based on LCoS. They use a laser as the light source, but the pictures that are not as clear as the other technologies.

Most people choose to go with LCD technology, but you may find the other options appealing for other reasons.

Sound Solution

Do you want to run a presentation with sound?   Look for pico projectors that either allow you to plug-in speakers or come with built-in speakers. If portability is the major reason for buying the projector, the latter option makes more sense. However, the projector will be bulkier than other options, and the battery life will most likely be incomparable to options that don’t have speakers.

Noise Generated

The average pico projector is quiet. However, the bigger-sized options may come with built-in fans to keep them cool during a presentation. If the low hum of the fan on these pico projector models can cause a distraction, you need to pay attention to the design of the projector and avoid options that have a fan or any component that can generate noise.

Light Technology and Contrast

LED bulbs are the main light source in most pico projectors. These provide you with a long lamp-life and will not drain the projector battery as fast as other options. However, projectors featuring any of the various types of laser technologies discussed above will use lasers as the light source.

These options deliver images you can view comfortably from any corner of the room. However, don’t forget that laser technologies are not as bright as technologies with an LED light source. The former typically has lower ANSI lumens ratings than the latter.

The quality of your image will be determined by the contrast ratio.  With pico projectors, the contrast ratios generally fall between 1000:1 and 5000:1.

Resolution

Pico Projector: How to Choose a Mini Portable Projector2

The resolutions on the average pico projector will vary between 640X480 and 800X600. However, you can find options with resolutions as low as 480X320 and as high as 848X480 or 854X480. Before you choose a projector, confirm that the resolution works for you.

Battery Life

After the technology and the resolution, the battery life of your pico projector is the next important consideration you should make.  The average pico projector comes with a half-hour battery life. This will not be enough to complete most presentations. However, there are some options that can deliver up to two hours of battery life.

If you decide to buy one of the options with weaker battery life, you should consider getting power cables, or purchase an upgraded battery. Are you thinking about watching a movie with your projector? You should consider getting other projector types as it is just not convenient on a pico. However, such options won’t fit in your pocket!

Storage Options

Many pico projectors come with built-in storage space that can hold file sizes of up to 1GB.   Some high-end models can allow onboard storage of up to 4GB.  If these options are too limiting for you, consider going with a pico projector that offers the flexibility of an SD card slot so you can use memory cards. However, don’t forget to confirm the supported card sizes as some pico projectors can only work with memory cards of less than 32GB capacity.

If you’d like to save to an external drive using cables, you need to pay attention to the overall functionality of the setup. How will it impact your presentation? What kinds of cables are supported? Many pico projectors support USB Type C cables, but don’t forget to confirm!

Input Ports

Although the main reason for getting a pico projector is for the portability, you may still need to connect it to other devices occasionally such as cameras, DVD players, mobile phones, and your computer from time to time. Many people use their pico projectors as the primary projector for business which will involve a direct connection to a computer most of the time. If this applies to you, the best pico projector models for you are those that have all the relevant ports.

Some of the options you should watch for include VGA, RCA, and composite ports. Some models also support HDMI connections.  Choose a pico projector model that agrees with your devices.

Wireless Connectivity

 Wireless connections always trump cable in terms of functionality, so you should consider choosing pico projector models that support Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections. This will allow you to run presentations from your mobile phone or PC without worrying about cables, ports and compatibility issues. However, pico projectors that support wireless connectivity are generally bulkier.

Lamp Life

How long will you use your projector before the lamp needs to be changed? You need to find a pico projector model that supports a decent lamp life. Most LED options can last up to 5000 hours. Treat the advertised lamp life as a suggestion. If you use the projector daily, it is highly likely that you’ll need to change the lamp long before the projected end date.

Ease of Use

Can you quickly set up the projector? Are the controls and settings easy to navigate? Don’t choose as pico projector with a steep learning curve, especially if it is going to be your main driver for business. Go for options that have intuitive interfaces or user manuals you can grasp in minutes!

Check Reviews

 When you have found the ideal pico projector for you, it is time to check what other people think about the model and the brand in general.  If many people are happy with the projector, you’ll probably be too. For an extra layer of protection, look for money-back guarantees when buying your projector so you can either get a refund or a new projector if you are unhappy with yours.

Conclusion

Pico projectors are unrivaled in terms of portability. With this guide, you now know what to look for when comparing various models. However, don’t forget to put your needs first every step of the way. A pocket-sized or affordable pico projector is only useful when you can use it for your presentations without any hitch.

FAQs

What is a pico projector?

A Pico projector is a handheld device designed to project content from a range of sources including smartphones, computers, cameras and more onto a screen.

Who should buy a pico projector?

Anyone can buy a pico projector.  Busy professionals use them for on-the-go presentations, but they can also be used for leisure purposes.

Can I use a pico mobile projector outdoors?

Yes, you can use your mobile projector outdoors, but only at night. Most pico projectors are not powerful enough to show clear images during the day.



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