- Features Android, apps and Office software
- Very small and light
- HDMI or USB-C video input
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in
- Includes tripod
- Low brightness
- No feet for aiming projector
- Half-HD resolution
- Convoluted menu
With AAXA’s P8 pico projector, what you see is what you get—a tiny projector that excels at integrating streaming entertainment and apps but ultimately falls a bit short on image quality and brightness. In fact, its $249 price is the most intriguing part of this mighty mite.
Built around Android 10 software, the AAXA P8 is aiming for a place in the home (for movies, sports and TV streaming), although it is just as useful at school (for setting up small classes) and at work (for quick video meetings or travelling sales presentations). Its tortuous menu structure makes it hard to figure out and get the most out of the P8, but connecting with the world is the P8's forte. In addition to the choice of using an HDMI cable or a USB Alternate Video wired connection, the projector can get online with integrated Wi-Fi, and the system comes with streaming apps and a competent web browser. It can even link with a Bluetooth speaker, so potentially the only cable you'll need is to power the projector.
The P8's tiny size and featherweight mean that it is more flexible and quicker to set up than heavyweights. Its included tripod adds to this idea, but the projector lacks feet for leveling and aiming the device. In the final analysis, the P8 is a small projector that acts like one.
Smaller than a stack of DVDs, the AAXA P8 is front and center in the trend towards pico projectors in the home, school and office. One of the tiniest projectors available, at 4.0 x 1.2 x 3.4 inches and just 8.7 ounces, it can be used in places where traditional projectors won't fit or aren't worth the effort. In fact, the P8 makes other small projectors, like the AAXA M7 and XGIMI Halo, look positively humongous and heavy by comparison.
Inside, the P8 has a 0.23-inch DLP imaging array and banks of red, blue and green Luminus Projection LED components. Because it doesn't require a color wheel to create its individual color fields, the full color brightness of the devices comes through. With the lighting elements rated to last 30,000 hours, the good news is that it will never need a lamp replacement and is likely to outlive most other pieces of technology in the home, school or office.
The bad news is that the projector lags the competition, like the M7 and Halo, with quarter-HD native resolution that delivers nothing sharper than 945x540 images. It can, however, accept full HD input video of 1920x1080.
AAXA rates the P8's output at 430 LED lumens, where the emphasis is on the perceived brightness rather than real-world quantitative testing. It, however, registered closer to 240 ANSI lumens on the test bench. This should be more than enough light to use in a darkened room and can create a credible image of up to about 72-inches, measured diagonally. Beyond that, the image can get washed out.
Unlike other projectors in its class including its cousin the AAXA M7, the P8 does without an internal battery, making it inappropriate to take on an outing where you'll be away from an AC outlet. Still, it's small and light enough to be used for anything from movie night at home to a repurposed room at work for a training session or at school for an impromptu small class. On the downside, the P8 lacks a bag, case or even lens cap, odd for a projector that will likely spend a good portion of its life traveling.
Instead of concentrating on brightness and image quality, the engineers at AAXA put the money into video input options. To start, the P8 has a version 1.4 HDMI port as well as a USB-C connector that can work with the Alternate Mode Video format. Unlike recent pico projectors, there's no adapter required, just a USB-C to USB-C cable. It streamed video on the first try from my Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ tablet, but, unfortunately, there's no cable available for iPhones and iPads, which use the venerable Lightning connector.
There's also a USB 2.0 Type A port on the P8's side for powering a streaming device or playing the contents of a flash drive chock full of videos or images. The projector can also play the contents of a micro-SD card, but, unfortunately, both the flash drive and SD card approach are limited to drives that hold a maximum of 64GB. In addition to a variety of image and video file formats, the P8 can put material from Office documents on-screen. This alone makes it great for anything from homework on the big screen at home or school to the ability to show a presentation or spreadsheet at work.
On top of a 2-watt speaker, the P8 has a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack for driving powered speakers. And the P8 sets itself apart from the pico projector crowd with its range of wireless abilities that include driving Bluetooth speakers and grabbing data online from a Wi-Fi network.
Based on Android 10, the P8 has apps for a variety of streaming services, like Netflix, Vimeo, Twitch and YouTube; it lacks any video conferencing apps, however. Plus, there's no way to use Google's Play Store to add others.
The gem of the P8 is its Chrome-based built-in Web browser. It was able to tap into range of Web sites, including BBC and CNN.
It also can mirror what's on the screen of a phone or tablet using AirPlay (for iPhones and iPads) as well as Miracast (for Android). It worked just as well with an iPhone 12 as with a Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+, allowing me to leave the video cable in the drawer.
Because it's small and light, the P8 can be set up in a variety of ways and places. It lacks a way to level it or have feet to angle the front, so I had a bunch of business cards ready to level and aim the projector. It does have a single threaded attachment point underneath and came with a small tripod, but the projector's cables are so heavy that they tend to pull it around, making it hard to aim. A more sturdy, alternate tripod might work better, however.
It took about two minutes to set up the P8 and get a reasonable 55-inch image with the projector 60 inches from the screen. Like other projectors in its class, it lacks an optical zoom, but has a digital zoom that can be adjusted with the tiny remote control.
The P8's vertical keystone correction can compensate for a tilt of up to 30-degrees but lacks any way to pull corners in or correct for horizontal keystone distortion. At a 15-degree projection angle corrected by the keystone, the projector lost 28% of its brightness—about double the light loss we've seen on most other projectors.
The P8 is rated to create images from 16 to 200 inches, although that might be a tad optimistic. The image started washing out at anything bigger than about 72-inches. You can use the ProjectorCentral AAXA P8 Projection Calculator to see the throw distance for different image sizes and projection distances.
Regardless of the setup, the P8's focus is sharp and consistent across the projected image. Not surprisingly for such a tiny and inexpensive projector, focus is handled by a manual thumbwheel on the side.
Unlike many of its pico-projector peers, the P8 has a control panel on the projector. The keypad includes the expected four-way arrows and an OK key in the middle. At its four corners are controls for volume-up and -down, menu and exit. The back of the unit has an on/off switch.
This is augmented by the system's tiny remote control. Powered by a watch battery, it had a range of about 25 feet. In addition to source, menu, volume and keystone correction, there are media player controls. It does a cool trick with extra up and down arrowheads that increase and decrease the brightness; the fan noise goes up and down as well. With the projector mode at full brightness, the Boost function doesn't add any brightness, so my brightness testing was done with this feature set in the middle of its range.
Separated into two groups, the projector's menu options can be confusing to use, at least at first. The main menu is available through the remote control and offers the expected selections that range from projection mode, color temp and noise reduction to sound, auto shut-off and returning the projector to its factory settings.
There's also the Streaming Services menu that is available after the projector is started or by using the remote's go-back key several times. In addition to options for Files (for using the projector's storage system), Input (HDMI or USB-C) and Mirroring (for casting to the projector), there's a Wi-Fi Setup icon (for connecting to a wireless network). The page also has a Settings section that leads to Brightness (Standard, Eco and Boost), Wireless (Wi-Fi), Language, Bluetooth, Upgrade/Reset and About.
For set up purposes, the most powerful of the choices is Display. Here, I got access to projector position and aspect ratio. I was also able to select from three color temperature settings.
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If that weren't enough, the page also has smaller icons in the lower right. The most useful was the link for the Chrome-based browser. It worked with CNN and BBC News sites but the combination of having to deliberately press the remote control's buttons with the awkward on-screen keyboard added up to making entering URLs hit or miss. The projector really needed access to a keyboard to make changes. While the two USB keyboards I tried didn't work, a Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse did.
There's also access to the P8's 17 preloaded Android programs, including Netflix, YouTube and Twitch. Unfortunately, the P8 lacks a link for the Google Play Store for adding any new apps. But the projector worked surprisingly well with YouTube and an external Braven 850 Bluetooth speaker.
Needless to say, it's all a bit confusing and could be helped by a redesign that consolidates all the choices to one or two linked screens. As is, the P8 has a steep learning curve and takes some time to get used to.
That said, the P8's biggest surprise is the inclusion of Kingsoft's WPS Office app to project Microsoft Office documents. It worked with Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as Acrobat files but took upwards of four or five seconds to appear on-screen. Still, documents generally looked good and this feature could be a big help at home, school or the office.
The P8 is a quick starter, with it projecting an image in 9.2 seconds; it took 3.2 seconds for its fan to turn off after being shut down. That's roughly twice as fast as AAXA's M7 and makes it appropriate for use in places where it will be turned on and off all day.
Regardless of whether I used the Standard, Soft or Vivid projection mode, the P8 put out a peak of 240 ANSI lumens. That's about half the peak output of its big brother the AAXA M7, and 44 percent lower than its 430 LED lumen spec. (LED lumens are typically pegged by the manufacturer at some multiple of measured ANSI lumens to account for the supposedly high perceived brightness from LED light sources, but there is no industry standard formula to calculate them.)
In addition to the lack of detail from the low-resolution imaging components, the projected images of faces were blotchy, and the images have jagged edges everywhere, making it hard to read small type. While the Standard mode projects the most balanced image and does the best on rendering lifelike flesh tones, the Vivid setting has too much contrast to it and loses a lot of fine detail in the image. Meanwhile, Soft dials back the color intensity to look weak.
Watching the opening "Dawn of Man" scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey shows the differences plainly. While the Standard setting has too much green in it, it is the best of the bunch, with a better balance between light and dark than either of the other two settings. The Soft mode appears washed out with some details (such as shadows) lost to the eye, and the Vivid mode is second best with the distant mountains washed out leaving only a black outline.
There's also the ability to create your own mode with the User setting. It allows the tweaking of Contrast, Brightness, Color, Sharpness and Tint. On the downside, it lacks essentials like gamma and individual color levels.
The projector's 87 percent measured brightness uniformity is a step back from the M7's 91 percent rating. In all modes, there was a distinct hot spot below the center of the screen.
When it was running in Boost mode, the P8 used 34.1 watts of electricity. It consumed 1.2 watts at idle. This power profile added up to an estimated annual electricity bill of about $8 for the P8 if it's used for 200 days a year for eight hours a day and you pay the national average of 14 cents per kilowatt hour of juice.
Even when it was running at full blast, the projector never got above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to a pair of small fans on the side. Using the Boost mode, the fans put out 42.8 dBA of noise measured at 36-inches in a room with a background noise level of 36.2 dBA. That's a little lower than either the AAXA M7 or P6X tested previously. The projector's noise drops to 40.7 and 40.0 dBA for the Standard and Eco modes. AAXA rates the projector at 30dB in a sound-proof room using the industry standard multi-point measurement.
Small, easy to carry around and quick to set up, the AAXA P8 is still a tiny projector that doesn't surprise on brightness or image quality with an output of 240 ANSI lumens and quarter-HD resolution. That said, the projector's greatest strength and differentiator in a rapidly crowding class of projectors is its combination of Android software and built-in web browser and streaming apps, as well as the P8's ability to work with wired and wireless video.
Its imaging won't satisfy home theater aficionados but that misses the point of the P8. At heart it is a small, light and inexpensive projector that can be set up just about anywhere and used for a variety of material. Its $250 price tag makes it a bargain that's available to a wide audience at home, school and at work.
Brightness. While it's rated to put out 430 LED Lumens of light, the P8 delivered 240 ANSI Lumens in its Boost mode and Standard projector setting. This dropped to 210 ANSI Lumens in Standard brightness mode and 194 ANSI Lumens in Eco mode. The three projection modes (Standard, Vivid, and Soft) all put out the same amount of light. The P8's color brightness matched the peak white brightness of 240 ANSI Lumens. This is expected because the projector uses banks of red, blue and green LEDS and no color wheel.
AAXA P8 ANSI Lumens
|Brightness Mode||ANSI Lumens|
Brightness Uniformity: 87%
Fan Noise. The AAXA P8 might be a mighty mite but the illumination components have some heat to dissipate. Its two small fans on the unit's side registered 42.8 dBA at 36-inches from the vent in its highest output Boost mode. This dropped to 40.7 dBA in Standard mode and 40.0dBA in Eco mode.
- HDMI version 1.4
- Audio out (3.5mm stereo jack)
- USB 2.0 Type A
- Micro SD card
- 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our AAXA P8 projector page.