Philips PicoPix PPX4010
May 5, 2016,
Designed primarily as a companion to a laptop PC, the Philips PicoPix PPX4010 is one of the smallest projectors on the planet. And with a lightening quick 17 ms input lag, it is one of the fastest. Measuring 0.87" by 2.7" by 2.6" and weighing 2.93 ounces, it can literally fit in a shirt pocket with room left over for a smartphone and a pair of glasses. The price is pretty small too, at only $299.99.
Plug the PPX4010 into a laptop, preferably using an HDMI port, and it will give you a bright enough image--rated at 100 lumens and measured at 71--for deskside or conference room viewing by a small group. The 854x480 resolution is low by today's standards, but it's a wide-format version of 480p or VGA, and enough for PowerPoint presentations and the like.
The PPX4010's picture quality is better in many ways than most pocket projectors deliver. However, it shares one limitation with any model with a native 854x480 resolution. Few PCs today support 854x480, which means you have to set the computer for a different resolution. In the absence of a one-to-one match between the number of pixels in the image and the number on the DLP chip, the projector will scale the image to fit in the number of pixels available on the chip, which introduces artifacts.
If you set the PC to a 16:9 resolution, like 1280x720, you'll also want to set the Display option in Windows to Larger - 150% to improve legibility. Even with that setting, however, scaling artifacts make text and fine detail a little hard to read. Both black text on white and white text on black were readable at sizes as small as 9 points in my tests, but they were unusually ragged at smaller sizes.
Another choice is to set the PC for 640x480 to match the native vertical resolution. With some 854x480 models, this would avoid scaling, with the projector using only 640 pixels across to give you a 4:3 image. However, the PPX4010 will stretch the image out to the chip's full width, distorting the aspect ratio and turning circles into ellipses that are wider than they are tall. The payoff is that the image holds detail better.
With the computer set to 640x480, both white text on black and black text on white were easily readable at 7.5 points in my tests, and still readable at 7 points. So if you want to show text documents, spreadsheets, or the like, you'll be better off setting your PC to 640x480. For typical PowerPoint slides, with larger text and no fine detail, either 1280x720 or 640x480 works nicely. If you use patterned fills rather than solid blocks of color on your slides, however, either resolution will add obvious scaling artifacts to the filled areas.
Color Preset Modes. The PPX4010 has only one color preset. There are no menus and no settings other than a focus control and a three-position switch on the side for adjusting brightness. For data images, green is a little yellowish while blue and red are a little dark, but color quality is acceptable overall, and colors are suitably vibrant and nicely saturated.
Rainbow artifacts aren't a problem. The only time I saw them was when I shifted my gaze rapidly back and forth with one data image that's designed to bring them out. I didn't see any with video
Video. Although the PPX4010 isn't really designed for showing video, its HDMI port makes it easy to connect to a video device, And, of course, you can play video on your PC as well. The image quality is best described as watchable. However, I saw a green cast in some of our test clips and a blue cast in others, moderate-to-major loss of shadow detail in some scenes, and obvious posterization in others. It helps a lot that the projector does an excellent job of avoiding showing rainbow artifacts. There's no 3D support.
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