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AAXA P2 Jr. Multimedia Pico Projector Review

AAXA P2 Jr. Multimedia
Pico Projector

by Marc Davidson on June 27, 2013  |  ProjectorCentral.com  |  Subscribe
Performance
4
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Mobile Presentation
AAXA P2 Jr. Projector AAXA P2 Jr.
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1000:1 Contrast Ratio
55 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

AAXA tends to build projectors that are a little different from everyone else's, mostly in a good way. The AAXA P2 Jr. pico projector carries on in that tradition, with a seductively small size and light weight, a surprisingly bright image for the size, a claimed two-hour battery life, and the kind of polished good looks that makes you think consumer electronics instead of techy computer peripheral.

The P2 Jr. has about the same shape as a tin of candy mints, with rounded corners and a mostly white case set off by a shiny black top. It's not much larger than a tin of mints either, which makes it easy to fit in a shirt pocket or keep in your laptop bag as a constant traveling companion.

Like most pico projectors, the P2 Jr. is built around a DLP chip paired with an LED light source, with the LEDs meant to last the life of the unit, and rated at 15,000 hours in this case. The 55-lumen rating isn't particularly high, but it's within the typical range for a small projector, and more than enough to be useful.

Very much on the plus side is the P2 Jr.'s ability to show images from a variety of sources, with support for both the usual connection options, including HDMI, and also for choices that enhance portability, including USB memory keys, SD cards, and smartphones. If you're looking for a pico projector suitable for anything from business presentations to watching a movie, the P2 Jr. is an obvious contender at a more than reasonable $199.99 street.

Strengths

Excellent data image quality. Data quality tests should be run at a projector's native resolution, but AAXA doesn't publish that information for P2 Jr. I ran my tests at 640x480, which appears to give the best quality image, and which AAXA confirmed was an appropriate resolution to use.

The quality is excellent for a pico projector. In addition to acceptably bright, vibrant colors, it delivers good color balance in all modes, with suitably neutral grays at all levels from white to black. More important for data screens, the projector does a good job with detail. Black text on white, for example, was crisp and highly readable at sizes as small as 7 points at 640x480. White text on black was easily readable at 8 points or larger. A close look at the screen showed that at 7 points the white text characters were breaking up into individual pixels, giving them a soft focus look from a distance. The same issue would apply to fine lines in a graphic.

Good video quality. Whatever the P2 Jr.'s native resolution is, it's certainly lower than 1080p. That puts obvious limits on its video quality, but within those limits, it does a good job. With the 1080p input in my tests, it delivered an image that was in the same league as you'd expect from a good (not great) quality standard definition TV.

I saw just a hint of posterization and moderate loss of detail in scenes that tend cause those problems, and I also some moderate noise in solid, dark areas, but nothing that most people would find distracting. Colors were a touch oversaturated,(for example, grass a little too green), but since most people prefer oversaturated colors, that's not much of a problem either. The quality is certainly good enough for watching a full-length movie comfortably.

Infrequent rainbow artifacts. The P2 Jr. does a good job of avoiding rainbow artifacts. Even though I see these artifacts easily, I didn't see any in data screens, and saw only fleeting hints of them even in most video test clips that tend to show them a lot. The only time I saw actual flashes of red, green, and blue was in a black and white clip, and even in that clip they were less frequent than with most DLP projectors.

Notably portable. Pocket projectors are portable by definition, but the P2 Jr. gets high marks even by pico projector standards. It measures just 0.8" by 2.9" by 4.2" (HWD), and weighs an even 6 ounces complete with its rechargeable battery. Given the claimed two-hour battery life, you should be able to rely on battery power for short sessions. For longer sessions, and for the brightest image, you'll need to carry the power block too, but that adds only 3.5 ounces for a total 9.5 ounce weight.

Test Results and Connectivity

Brightness. With its brightest settings, meaning Dynamic mode, High brightness, and running on AC power, the P2 Jr. came in at 40 lumens, slightly lower than its 55 lumen rating. Standard mode, which is the default setting whenever you turn it on, was 28 lumens, and Mild was 18 lumens.

Running on batteries automatically switches the lamp brightness to Low, which essentially cuts the light output in half. When I switched the brightness setting to Low while running on AC power, I measured the same brightness as with battery power in each preset mode.

Practically speaking, 40 lumens is bright enough to produce a good 31" diagonal picture on a white wall or plain white screen in a dark room. Its dimmest operating mode on battery power is enough for a 15" diagonal screen. For short sessions, however, you can easily manage with larger sizes. I had no trouble viewing photos in moderate ambient light at a 37" diagonal size, using an off-white door as a screen, for example. However, colors were noticeably washed out compared with showing the same photos in the same lighting at smaller sizes.

Excellent brightness uniformity. Most pocket projectors have trouble maintaining uniform brightness across the entire screen. With the P2 Jr., however, I measured the brightness uniformity at 90%. That is excellent for any projector, and downright outstanding for a pico projector.

Connectivity. The P2 Jr. offers four connectors that allow a wide range of connection options. In particular, the mini-HDMI connector lets you connect smartphones, tablets, and other devices that support MHL (Mobil High-Definition Link), as I proved by connecting a Samsung Galaxy S3 in my tests. The full list:

  • 1 mini HDMI
  • 1 proprietary connector for the included VGA cable ending in a male DB-15, or the included AV cable ending in three male RCA plugs for composite video and stereo audio
  • 1 USB A for reading files from a USB key
  • 1 microSD card slot for reading files from a memory card.

    Limitations

    Hard to focus. It's not unusual for pocket projectors to be hard to focus, but the P2 Jr. is harder than most. The focus thumbwheel on the first test unit AAXA sent was flush with one side of the projector and resisted movement, making it hard to get to and almost impossible to control precisely. With a little practice, I was able to focus by resting my thumb on the side of the unit and using my thumbnail to move the wheel, but even then, focusing was a lot harder than it should be. The thumbwheel in a second test unit was easier to control, making the projector easier to focus but still not easy.

    No zoom. As is standard for pico projectors, the P2 Jr. doesn't offer an optical zoom lens, so you have to move the projector to adjust image size. For image sources you have to connect to by cable, this may mean having to move the image source as well, depending on how long the cable is.

    No meaningful audio. The P2 Jr. has a one-watt mono speaker, but the volume is so low that I literally didn't realize there was any sound coming from it until I held it about six inches from my ear. To make out dialog, I had to get even closer. Compounding the problem is that there's no audio out, which means you not only have to use an external sound system, but you have to connect it directly to the original source, rather than through the projector. Depending on the source and what connectors it has, that may or may not be a problem.

    Conclusion

    As should be obvious, the AAXA P2 Jr. offers a lot to like. Its got excellent data image quality, good video quality, good connectivity, plus the ability to read files directly from USB keys and microSD cards. It also helps a lot that it doesn't show many rainbow artifacts. It fits in a shirt pocket and has ample brightness for the size, particularly when using AC power. The projector would earn a few extra points if it were just as bright with battery power, but, of course, the lower brightness is a big part of what gives it a two-hour battery life.

    The meager audio and the annoyingly hard to focus lens take a little of the shine off the P2 Jr., but not enough to keep it from being an impressive projector. The key point is that it gets the critical features right. If you need a usefully bright, high-quality image in the most portable format you can find, the AAXA P2 Jr. may well be the projector you want.

(08/21/19 - 11:00 AM PST)
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