Review: 3M MPro120
October 22, 2009
The 3M Pocket Projector MPro 120 ,built around a VGA (640 x 480) LCOS chip paired with a sequential red-green-blue LED light source, is meant as both a business projector for data presentations and as a home projector for showing video and photos. Rated at 12 lumens in its high brightness mode, it's noticeably brighter than most pocket projectors, but also a touch larger. The claimed battery life is an impressive 4 hours in normal mode, dropping to 2 hours in high brightness mode. Overall, it's a more than capable all purpose pocket projector, and a great value for street prices under $350.
Small, Light, and Highly Portable. Pocket projectors are small, light, and highly portable by definition. The MPro120 is one of the largest in the category, but still small enough fit comfortably in a shirt pocket at .9- x 2.4- x 4.7 inches. It's also lighter than some, at 5.6 ounces. For those who prefer to carry it in a briefcase or handbag, 3M also includes a thin leatherette pouch to help protect it.
Bright (for a Pocket Projector).The MPro120's brightness rating is 12 lumens in high brightness mode. We measured it at 13 lumens. Although neither may seem like an impressive number, both are high for a pocket projector. Keep in mind that the human eye adjusts to the level of brightness, so that changes in measured brightness aren't the same as changes in percieved brightness. Studies show that the eye is more sensitive to small changes at low levels than higher levels, so that even though 10 lumens is only one-tenth of 100 lumens, the eye sees it as much brighter than one-tenth as bright.
The eye's greater sensitivity to changes in brightness at low levels of light also explains why the MPro120 in its high brightness mode is noticeably brighter than a 10-lumen pocket projector or its own normal mode (which we measured at 10 lumens), even though it's only a 3 lumen difference.
Flexible Power Choices. The MPro120 lets you choose between using its bright mode and getting only a 2 hour battery life on a full battery charge or using the dimmer, so-called normal mode for an impressively long 4 hour battery life. Even 2 hours is longer than some pocket projectors offer, but if you're not in a situation where you can plug in the power cord, doubling the battery life can be well worth losing some brightness, even if it means you have to settle for a smaller image size.
As with most pocket projectors, when the battery dies, you can plug in the power cord and keep using the projector. Unlike some, the MPro120's battery will charge even while the projector is on. Recharge time is about 2 hours with the projector off or 4.5 hours with the projector on.
For those who travel internationally, the set of interchangeable plugs for the power adaptor will be invaluable, with choices that 3M says will work almost anywhere, including the U.S. Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, and most of Asia.
Easy Image Height Adjustment. Adjusting the image height can be an issue for pocket projectors. The MPro120 addresses the problem in two ways. First, a flip up stand built into the projector lets you aim the image higher than the projector level. For more extreme adjustments, 3M also provides a screw-in tripod with 4-inch flexible legs, which makes it easy to both raise the projector higher and tilt it as needed.
Excellent Connectivity. The MPro120 comes with two cables, one for a computer VGA port and one for a composite video source. Each includes a proprietary connector for the projector at one end. The other end of the computer cable includes both a VGA connector and an extension with a stereo miniplug for a computer's audio output. The video cable ends in three male RCA phono plugs for composite video and stereo audio.
Both cables are 3 feet long, which should be enough for using the VGA cable with a laptop. However, if the video source is more than 3 feet from the projector, 3M also supplies three RCA plug gender changers so you can plug the projector cable into one side and a standard composite video and stereo audio cable into the other to reach the video source.
In addition to the two cables that come with the projector, 3M also sells an AV adaptor kit for $23.95 with a component video cable and a cable plus adaptor to connect to iPod, iTouch, and iPhone models.