ASUS P1 Pico Projector
April 13, 2012,
Size and Weight: With a roughly five-inch square footprint and a height of 1.3", the P1 is one of the smallest projectors in its class. Coupled with is 0.9-pound weight (excluding the power brick), this small size makes for a compact unit that fits easily into a briefcase or backpack.
Image Quality: If you have to use the P1's composite video input, you will see a bit of shimmer in the image, but otherwise the image quality is very good. You can eliminate the shimmer if your computer can play DVDs and you connect through the VGA input to the P1. Minor tweaks of brightness and contrast delivers a balanced and saturated image, and for those who want to take the time, sharpness and tint can also be adjusted. Composite video quality is pretty good for such a small projector, and the 2,000:1 contrast ratio helps deliver well-differentiated shadows and highlights in addition to realistic flesh tones.
Data images are crisp and clean, and small fonts are easily readable. Photos looked best in the Scenery preset, and while the Dynamic preset created the brightest images, the Standard preset delivered the best-looking data and video images. The only glitch for our demo unit was that it showed a light green-to-red background from left to right which was visible when viewing spreadsheets but undetectable while viewing video.
Brightness and Uniformity: It was nice to find a projector that met its brightness specification. We measured the five primary Preset modes as follows: Dynamic - 225 lumens, Standard - 180 lumens, Game - 160 lumens, and both Theater and Scenery - 145 lumens. Two other specialized Presets are also available: Whiteboard and Blackboard. Eco mode dropped brightness by 36%.
Our sample unit's brightness uniformity was a very good 83%, and the lower right side of the image was slightly brighter than the upper left.
Aspect Ratio: The P1 accommodates widescreen 720p video nicely with its native 1280x800 resolution. Since this is a 16:10 aspect ratio, there will be minimal black bars above and below a 16:9 format movie, but you can choose 16:10 mode and stretch the image vertically without much impact on the look of the image. This option also ensures that the entire DLP chip is illuminated which maintains full brightness. A 4:3 aspect ratio is also selectable, but illumination drops considerably since the chip is only partially illuminated.
Fan noise: When running in its brightest modes, the fan noise from the P1 is lower than any of its nearest competitors. This is especially important since it will be used in small meetings where the audience is seated close to the projector. If you are able to switch to Eco mode, the fan noise dies away to a whisper although it takes a minute or so to achieve this level since it has to exhaust heat generated in normal mode.
Cost of Ownership: Both warranty period and maintenance requirements affect cost of ownership, and the P1 scores very high in those categories. Most competitors offer a one-year warranty, but the P1 is covered for two years. In the maintenance category, the P1's LEDs replace the traditional lamp/color wheel combination and since they are slated to last for 30,000 hours, lamp replacement is not a factor.
Throw Angle: In small meetings, you will usually be setting the P1 on a desktop, and since the bottom of the image is above the lens centerline, you probably will not have to angle the P1 upward to get the image where you want it. This supports the earlier suggestion of disengaging automatic keystone correction.
Power Supply Commonality: If you happen to use an ASUS laptop, you will find that the power brick for the P1 is the same as your computer's. With your computer fully charged, you can lighten your load by carrying just one power supply to your presentation. Of course, if your presentation time exceeds your computer's battery life, you will need to carry both power supplies.
Fast On/Off: Since the P1 uses LEDs rather than a lamp for illumination, it can be switched on and off in about five seconds with no need to warm up or cool down. The top of the case is fairly warm after an extended presentation, but not dangerously hot.
On-Screen Menus: The P1's on-screen menus are very intuitive and easily accessible from the built-in control panel. There is minimal layering, and although the menu cannot be re-positioned, it does not block much of the image.
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