Mini projectors have been a new accessory that has popped up over the last few years. Most are pretty clunky and limited in their features. They’re often poorly constructed, have small or no battery, little to no sound capabilities, and heat up quickly despite loud cooling fans. However, more computer manufacturers have started to develop their own projectors that have more versatility, better features, and better build quality. One of those companies to take on the mini projector field is Lenovo with their Pocket Projector. I’ll take a look at this mini projector and see how well it stacks up to the rest of the players.
Unpacking the projector, you can immediately feel the weight and build of the projector. It’s not heavy, but has a good weight to make it feel secure and sturdy. The projector is split in to parts: a metallic side and a black side that is slightly less than half the device. The black side holds the projector light and focus control, and can be adjusted to change the angle of image projection. The metallic side holds all the connection points and controls.
The Pocket Projector uses a 50-lumen display powered by Texas Instruments DLP technology, and can display an image of up to 110 inches. I had a lot of fun with this projector as it’s very versatile and easy to use. I was able to get a decent image even in fairly bright environments. I was also very impressed with the projector’s ability to automatically adjust the size and shape of the projection to best match where and how far you were projecting.
The projector houses 2 x 1W speakers, which doesn’t really get very loud and can become distorted if you turn it up too loud. I wasn’t really expecting much from the speakers as most of these projectors have a weak speaker system, or none at all, and expect you to use external speakers or headphones. These were slightly better than the average mini projector speakers, but if you’re going to be watching a movie you definitely want to use the audio port.
Buttons / Ports
On top of the projector’s mettalic side you’ll find a cross shaped directional button with a selection button in the middle and a Back button just to the side. On the back side you’ll find the power button, a 3.5mm Audio port, and a mini usb port used for power/charging. The front of the projector also has a small dial for manual focus. All the buttons worked well and were very responsive. When you open the angle of the black projection side you also reveal a microSD card slot that can be used to load pictures, movies, or presentations.
I’m not sure what actual battery size is inside the projector, but the specs indicate it should last up to 3 hours on a full charge. This seemed to be pretty accurate though I think we actually got a little over 3 hours with the couple of movies the kids and I watched, so your mileage may vary. Regardless, it should be more than capable for most movies or presentations.
The Pocket Projector uses an internal 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless radio and utilizes DLNA or Mircast to wirelessly connect to your devices and project whatever you have on your screen. You can also use the microSD card slot to load media internally if you don’t want to use the wireless options. When you turn the projector on you are presented with menu options that walk you through connecting your device to your wireless networks, and how to discover it from your devices and connect to it.
I was able to use my Android phone, Android tablet, and Windows 10 laptop to connect up to the projector with no problems. I also tried using the MicroSD option which was very easy to work with. I didn’t have a MAC or iOS device to test with, but if the other options are any indication, it’s likely very similar in ease and usability.
While there isn’t really an OS on this projector, it does have some simple software with menus that help guide you through configuring WiFi and connecting your devices. The battery level is also displayed on screen, though it doesn’t provide an actual percentage. When the projector is turned on you can move through the menu using the directional button to jump between items. The menu options include: Connect to WiFi, MicroSD, Settings, Video Cast, iOS/Mac, Android, and Windows 10. Selecting any of these items brings up a static display that provides a decent level of detail for setting up your device to see the projector and how to connect to it. Anyone with an intermediate level of knowledge of their device should have no problems setting this up. However, some beginner level users might need a bit of assistance to find certain settings.
There weren’t many accessories included with the projector, which is fine as there really aren’t many that are needed. Inside the box was your standard USB to Micro USB cable used for charging the projector, wall charger, protective pouch, and warranty/user guides. The protective pouch is a thin cloth pouch that you can slide the projector and cables in for easy carry. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “protective,” but I suppose it’s better than nothing and does keep all your cables together.
The Kid Factor
While this certainly isn’t designed for kids, my kids absolutely loved this thing. Being able to grab my phone and cast a movie for them on the wall or the ceiling was apparently the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen. The projector itself is fairly sturdy and easily withstood the less-than-gentle handling a 4 year old and couple 2 year olds can dish out. My 4 year old would even grab this on her own and used it to watch some Youtube Kids videos after I showed her how to get it connected. None of them were particularly happy when I had to send the demo unit back.
I actually loved this projector, as did the rest of my family. I was worried that without a physical connection to the projector I would have issues with buffering or video quality. I experienced none of that with this guy and it made it so much more usable without cables strung between my phone or laptop and the projector. It was easy to configure, easy to setup, and just all around easy to use. This projector is awesome, and easily the best mini projector I’ve been able to play with.
You can pick up the Lenovo Pocket Projector online for $249.00 off Lenovo’s website, but there are varied prices scattered across other sites. As always, do your research and shop around!