AAXA P3 Widescreen
Pico Projector with HDMI
April 9, 2012
Good data image quality. The P3's data image quality is better than many, if not most, pico projectors. But there's a hedge that goes with that comment. Because the 1024x600 resolution is unusual, there's a good chance your computer won't offer it as one of its settings. If you choose any other resolution and set the P3 to its widescreen aspect ratio, you'll degrade the image to some extent because of scaling artifacts caused by adding or dropping pixels in the image (as sent from the computer) to fit it on the screen.
Because these scaling artifacts won't make any difference for issues like color and color balance, I ran most tests with the projector in its widescreen setting, with a 45" diagonal image at the roughly 16:9 aspect ratio. For images that would be affected by scaling artifacts, however, which includes text screens and screens with repetitive patterns of closely spaced dots or lines, I set the computer to 800x600 and set the P3 to a 4:3 aspect ratio, which for the P3 also translates to 800x600.
With that hedge in mind, the P3 delivered suitably vibrant and well saturated color, and it did a good job on color balance, maintaining neutral grays on assorted levels from white to black. Text smaller than 9 points lost crispness, making it hard to read but still readable, and I saw very little pixel jitter on screens that tend to cause jitter. Keep in mind, however, that if you use the projector in widescreen mode and set the computer for any resolution other than 1024x600, your results will be anywhere from a little to a lot worse, depending on the computer's resolution setting.
Good video image quality. The P3's video image quality is surprisingly good for a pico projector. I saw some moderate problems with shadow detail and posterization on scenes that tend to bring those issues out. However, with scenes that are better lit, which includes the vast majority of video you're likely to look at, I saw only a minor loss of shadow detail and no posterization. Colors were a little dull, as you would expect from a low contrast ratio, but the image was eminently watchable.
Relatively few rainbow artifacts. Adding to the image quality for both data and video is that the P3 shows fewer rainbow artifacts than most pocket projectors. I tend to see these artifacts easily, but with data images, I saw them only on screens designed to bring them out. With video, they cropped up fairly often on one clip with a lot of small bright elements surrounded by dark areas, which is precisely what tends to make them show easily. In most of my tests clips, however, they showed up infrequently or not at all. Even those who see rainbow artifacts easily probably won't see them often enough with the P3 to find them bothersome.
Suitably Portable. One of the strongest arguments for any pico projector is that it's small and portable. The P3 easily qualifies on both scores, at 1.4" x 2.6" x 4.6" inches (HWD), and roughly 7.5 ounces by itself or 11.5 ounces if you include the power block. Adding an HDMI cable and the VGA, composite video, and USB adaptors cuts down a little on portability. However, as a practical matter, you wouldn't usually carry more than one cable or adaptor with you. In addition, the claimed 65 minute battery life is long enough so you may not need the power block for every trip.