848x480 Laser Pico Projector
September 14, 2010
No internal storage. One of the hot ideas making its way into projectors these days is PC-free projection. Taken one step further, some pico projectors have onboard memory or MicroSD memory card slots. On these projectors, you load the documents you'd like to use, and the projector decodes and displays them internally. The ShowWX does not have this capability, which means you will always need to have a source connected in order to project. Presenters looking for the ultimate in portability might look elsewhere for just this reason.
No tripod mount. Incorporating a screw mount for a miniature tripod is a great convenience feature, but the ShowWX does not have one. This means you're forced to hold the projector or set it down on the table. The projection angle is well suited to this - the bottom edge of the image is at the same height as the lens centerline, so the whole image will appear above the table - but a tripod mount would increase flexibility and make the ShowWX more versatile. Tripods also make small projectors like the ShowWX harder to "muscle around." Sometimes, since the projector is so light, tugging on the cord can move it around on the table.
Pincushion distortion. The ShowWX's projected image showed some signs of pincushion distortion, where the sides of the image bow inwards. While it is not likely to be a problem when viewing photographs or video, it is especially evident when using Excel spreadsheets or other highly linear documents. Even some text documents can show evidence of bowing. If your application is highly dependent on exact geometry, this projector might not be for you.
Shimmer. The ShowWX, like some other laser projectors, has a shimmery, glittery quality to the image, especially in fields of solid color or white. The whole image appears to sparkle at times. This is one of those artifacts that affects different people in different ways; some folks don't mind the shimmer, while your humble reviewer finds it incredibly distracting. During a 10-minute sales pitch, the audience will probably ignore the effect, but a two-hour quarterly meeting might be a different story. If in doubt, find a retailer that stocks the ShowWX and takes returns--just in case.
Difficult menu system. With several image options and even three different lamp settings, the ShowWX has a complicated menu system for a pico projector. Normally, we are all in favor of more options--more options mean more people can customize the projector so it's just the way they like it. However, there are a few things working against the ShowWX in this category.
For one, the menu is somewhat complex, with several nested options. Secondly, you're navigating this menu system using three buttons: up, down, and Menu. Menu also serves as Enter, which can get confusing. Third, some of the options available do not change much. The three brightness modes (high, medium, and low) have limited effect on a 10-lumen projector, and there's no real reason to switch away from the default High brightness mode. Lower brightness modes will land you another ten to fifteen minutes of battery life, but at the cost of three to five lumens. There are some color modes, and the brightest one (Brilliant) is selected by default. Standard mode has slightly better shadow detail, but in a room with ambient light the difference is almost nonexistent. Inverted mode is handy for text documents in dark rooms, since it makes black text white and white backgrounds black. In short, this is one occasion where a manufacturer could have done with fewer options rather than more.