3M MPro150 VGA LCoS Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$279 MSRP Discontinued
While early pico projectors were very rudimentary, some of the latest products like the 3M MPro150 are changing people's expectations of what a pocket-sized projector can do. The MPro150 is truly pocket-sized, but produces a 15-lumen picture with good color saturation and contrast that's perfect for a mobile presenter who wants to travel light. A gigabyte of internal storage and a MicroSD card slot make it easy to present without wires. But the MPro150 can show more than just pictures - it features support for Microsoft Office documents as well as Adobe PDFs and several common video formats. With a street price around $380, the MPro150 is a presenter's perfect pocket-sized pal.

Advantages

Image quality. The MPro150 is rated at 15 lumens, and our test sample measured 14. The image is clear and bright in a dark room up to about 40" diagonal, where it begins to dim rapidly. In a brighter environment, the "sweet spot" for projection seems to be about 15" to 20" diagonal.

In terms of actual image quality, the MPro150 is bright enough to hold its own in a well-lit room, provided you keep the image size reasonable. Contrast is sufficient for Word or Powerpoint documents, while images and video will benefit from more restricted lighting conditions. There is some vignetting in the corners, which can get annoying when displaying text documents, since important information can run from edge to edge. For Powerpoint or photography, though, it should not cause too much of a negative impact on your presentation.

Wireless presentation. The MPro150 is more than just a projector. Traditionally, projectors are more like computer monitors than televisions, in that they need an external source to handle the decoding and playback of content. This can be anything from a DVD or Blu-ray player to an iPod or laptop. The MPro150 is different, because it does not require an external source for several common document types. Since many, many presenters use Microsoft's PowerPoint software for their presentations, the MPro150's Office support will allow them to run their presentations directly off the projector without having to run a single wire.

The MPro150 can also handle Adobe PDF documents, image files, MP3 music files, and several common digital video formats, including MPEG-2 and various MPEG-4 implementations. No matter what we threw at the MPro150, it displayed it like a champ. Navigation is not as fast as it would be on a laptop or netbook, but if all you need to do is display a file, the MPro150 is more than capable.

Storage. Of course, the ability to display all of this data is useless without some place to put it. The MPro150 has a generous 1GB internal storage area, accessible via USB. Simply connect the projector to your computer and it will show up as USB storage, similar to how you use your digital camera or USB thumb drive. Note that the projector must be turned on in order to access its storage space.

Now, if you are going on an extended trip, it is possible that 1GB is not enough space for what you want to display - especially if you're using a lot of video or photographic content. The MPro150 has a slot for MicroSD cards, and includes a 2GB card in the box. These 2GB cards can be purchased for less than $10 each and are smaller than a dime, allowing you to carry effectively limitless storage that is easily swapped in and out of the projector. This would allow you to keep a card for your business information and then another for movies to watch during your flight, for example.

Connectivity. While its onboard capabilities are impressive, it is possible that you will need to present something that the MPro150 cannot display on its own. For these circumstances, the MPro150 includes both composite A/V and VGA breakout cables which connect to the projector's "VGA-A/V" port on the rear of the projector. For ease of use, the VGA cable also has a 1/8" audio connection, so you can send your computer's audio and video using one connection (of course, chances are pretty good that your laptop has louder and better-sounding speakers than does the MPro150, but that is beside the point). Additional cables are available for use with component video connections or Apple products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPod Touch. There's also a 1/8" headphone jack for those times you just want to watch a movie or listen to some MP3s.

Portability. The MPro150 is built for portability. Obviously, things like small size, on-board storage, and format support go a long way towards making the MPro150 presentation-friendly, but there is more to consider. The projector weighs less than six ounces, making it trivial to carry in a pocket. Its internal battery lasts for two hours. We tested and confirmed this capacity by running a video clip with the volume up, which is about the most demanding application we could think of as far as power consumption is concerned. The MPro150 ran for a full two hours before shutting itself down.

The projector has a small "kickstand" on the bottom, allowing it to be tilted upwards far enough to clear a conference room table even without the use of a tripod. Still, it has a tripod mount as well, and the package contains a small portable tripod in case you would prefer to use one.

The A/C adapter is international and can accept a wide variety of power configurations, and the tines are interchangeable between US, UK, European, and Australian standards. All told, the MPro150 can be recharged and used in almost any country where there is reliable electricity to be had.

This is true portability; it extends beyond size and weight and shows the degree of forethought put into the product. The MPro150 is designed for mobile presentation, from top to bottom. For the jet-setting professional on the go, there is little more one could ask for. The one notable accessory that is not included is the 3M Mobile Presentation Binder. This is a simple leather binder with pouches for your projector and its cables and a rigid white screen surface on the opposite side. This simple accessory ensures that you will always have a suitable projection surface, no matter where you are. It can be found for about $40 at several office supply retailers.

Stereo speakers. The MPro150 has two half-watt speakers, and they are capable of decent volume. For a small audience of one to five people (with five being the absolute maximum), everyone should be able to hear the presentation. Still, the speakers are best used in a very quiet room. Then again, with a pocket projector like the MPro150, it is unlikely that you will ever want to show your presentation to more than five people at a time. In essence, the sound matches the picture in that it is ideal for a small audience.

Limitations

Ergonomics. The MPro150 is a slim, handheld package that's small and light enough to carry everywhere, but it does have some minor flaws that decrease usability. For starters, the focus adjustment wheel is on the front of the projector, meaning you have to reach around with one finger to adjust it. It can be difficult to do this while holding the projector steady and not block the image, while a side-focus wheel might be easier to operate.

Navigation of documents and menus is performed with the top-mounted directional panel. However, at least at first, this directional pad can be sticky. For example, when watching video files, up and down control volume while left and right change files. While trying to adjust the volume, it is easy to slip and accidentally skip to the next file. Since it is difficult to return to the place where you left off, this can be a hassle - especially if you are watching a longer clip.

Occasionally sluggish menu. A few times, the MPro150 would get "hung up" on something, and refuse to accept our input until it worked things out. Then, all of our clicks would go through at the same time, leading to some interesting behavior. This is a relatively minor issue, and could always be fixed with a quick restart, but it's still something to be aware of.

Conclusion

The 3M MPro150 is a presenter's pocket projector, no question. Its onboard storage and document support make it a great choice for wireless projection, allowing you to travel light. In these days of airlines charging for checked baggage, this can be a great benefit.

The MPro150 is a total package, not just a projector. With stereo speakers and great connectivity, the MPro150 can project any material, from any source, at any time. If you need a pocket projector for serious business use, this one comes highly recommended.


For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our 3M MPro150 projector page.

Comments (5) Post a Comment
Sajid Posted Apr 28, 2010 12:18 AM PST
I am having problems with the resolution. I am unable to see the picture clearly through projector on wall. The picture or presentation is OK on my monitor. How to resolve this issue. Kindly help me in this regard.
jeremy Posted Nov 10, 2010 2:25 PM PST
you will not get a perfect picture on a wall. use a projector screen.
Jamie Posted Sep 9, 2011 4:52 PM PST
This is a lousy projector. My office purchased it for me when doing word document presentations. The light output is so poor that I have to turn the lights down very dim on order to see the picture. You cannot have this projector in a room where there is a window or lamp.

Perhaps the most annoying problem with this projector is the image. The advertisement shows that this is a widescreen projector. It is not, it shows up as a square. Also, it only shows part of my screen at a time, and I have to move the mouse around for everyone to see the whole document. What good is a projector that only shows you part of the screen at a time?

If there was a five star rating system, I would rate this a 1, only because it is cute, quiet, and portable.
Jeff Posted Dec 5, 2011 8:35 AM PST
The image was weak further than 8 feet from the screen in a room with minimal lighting, however it worked quite well in complete darkness at that range. The interface & menus were simple, yet too limited to get true image control. After much tinkering and only getting a partial image projected as a dim trapezoid, we considered it useless for office or meeting use.

Great concept though, and quiet. Would be excellent to have as a personal projector for when you want to stream movies off your phone in a dark room.
Orin Posted Dec 15, 2011 12:10 PM PST
640X480 is insufficient resolution for document use. I'll wait till a newer model comes out that handles at least 800X600 and more video formats. Still, this is a nifty product adequate for movies and slide type presentations, should be great for Powerpoint if you don't over stuff the visuals with fine details. Can't see how this would be useful on an airline tray though.

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