AAXA P4 WVGA DLP 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
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$399 MSRP Discontinued

The DLP-based AAXA P4 is an impressively capable pico projector, packed with nearly every feature you can think of. AAXA even added a metaphorical kitchen sink, in the form of Windows CE. Unfortunately, there are some important limitations too, but they're mostly related to the extras and wouldn't count as limitations if the extras weren't there at all.

Given the native 854x480 resolution instead of the more common 640x480, for example, you'd expect to have the full widescreen format available for a VGA or composite video connection. However external sources are limited to 4:3 format (until a promised firmware upgrade at least). The 16:9 format is available only for files the P4 reads from memory. That also means you don't get the P4's full brightness with external sources, especially for widescreen images in letterbox format, since you're using only part of the chip's full array.

On the glass is half full side, this also means the P4 can read files from memory, it offers its full 16:9 aspect ratio for those files at least, and it's a Windows CE device too. It's also a lot brighter than earlier generation pocket projectors, although it didn't measure up to its 80-lumen rating.

Add in surprisingly good image quality and an appropriately small size, and the P4 is still pretty impressive for $339 direct. Also add the Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo for $49.99 direct, both to take advantage of Windows CE and work as a remote control, and it's an even more attractive choice.

Strengths

Good data image quality. The P4's data image quality is surprisingly good for a pico projector. With the exception of yellow, which was a little dark in terms of a hue, saturation, brightness model, colors in my tests were vibrant, bright, and well saturated. Color balance was also good, with various levels of gray suitably neutral.

The image retained detail well for the resolution. Black text on a white background was easily readable at 9 point size on a 45" diagonal screen (39" wide at 16:9 aspect ratio) from 7 feet or closer. Smaller sizes weren't easily readable from any distance, but that's more a measure of the resolution than image quality.

Also helping image quality overall is that the P4 tends to suffer less from rainbow artifacts than many DLP-based pocket projectors, and it offers an unusually high 92% brightness uniformity.

Relatively good video image quality. The P4's video image quality varies depending on the source, but qualifies as a strong point overall. The projector doesn't handle shadow detail well, but the problem is obvious only in scenes that a lot of projectors have trouble with.

On the plus side, I didn't see any motion artifacts, and colors were nicely saturated. Even better, I saw surprisingly few rainbow artifacts. This is always a potential issue for single-chip DLP projectors, and it tends to show most often in video. I'm sensitive to the effect, but you'd have to be a lot more sensitive than I am for it to be an issue with the P4.

Suitably Portable. Pocket projectors are small and portable by definition. For the P4, that translates to measuring 1.2" x 2.8" x 5.6" (HWD) and weighing just 0.6 pounds by itself, 0.9 pounds if you add the external power block, or 1.1 pounds if you also add the optional external keypad and mouse combo. Portability is enhanced by the fact that the projector can read files from memory, so you don't necessarily have to bring a computer or video source with you. Also, the 75 minute battery life is long enough that you may not have to bring the power block on every trip.

Windows CE and optional Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo. You can use the built-in Windows CE with any external USB keyboard and mouse, but it's hard to imagine carrying a full size keyboard around. The optional Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo, which is about the size of a small bar of chocolate, turns the projector into a useful Windows CE device. Plug the keyboard's USB adaptor into the USB A port on the projector, press a button to establish a connection, and you can use the keyboard both for Windows CE, and as a remote for the projector.

Also worth mention is the already installed, full version of SoftMaker Office 2010 for both reading PowerPoint files and editing or creating a presentation. However, it's hidden in a subfolder, so you may have to call AAXA's tech support to find it, or invest some time hunting through the folders in Windows CE.

Test Results and Connectivity

Brightness. I measured the P4 at 55 lumens, a relatively low 69% of its 80 lumen rating. In general, that would be bright enough for my tastes for a 63" diagonal image at 16:9 aspect ratio in a dark room. Because you're limited to 4:3 format with external devices, however, you may have to use a smaller size image.

For a widescreen image from an external source, you need letterbox format, which for the P4 translates to using only a 16:9 portion of a 4:3 portion of the DLP chip's 16:9 array. This gives you a much dimmer image than you would get using the full array for the same image size. For my tests with the lights off, the 16:9 image size I settled on was 53" diagonally, with the projector about 9.5 feet from the screen. If the projector were using the entire chip, the image would have been 63" diagonally.

The good news is that this limitation doesn't apply to video stored in memory. I found both 720p and 1080p clips stored on a USB key, microSD card, and internal memory highly viewable at 63" diagonally in a dark room. Also, AAXA says that its next firmware upgrade, which it expects to make available for downloading in early 2012, will let external sources take advantage of the chip's widescreen format, eliminating this issue entirely.

Excellent brightness uniformity. The P4's 92% brightness uniformity is not only better than most pocket projectors, it's better than most standard projectors. I didn't see any variation in brightness even on a solid white screen.

Connectivity and choice of sources. The P4 offers a typical set of connection options for a pocket projector. For computers, it comes with a cable that connects to proprietary port on the P4 on one end and a standard VGA port on the other. For video sources, it comes with an adaptor that plugs into the P4's AV port and ends in three female RCA phono plugs for composite video and stereo audio. In addition, AAXA sells optional AV cables for iPod, Zune, and PSP connections for $12.99 to $19.99 each.

The P4 also offers a slot for a microSD card; a USB A port for an external keyboard or USB memory key; and a mini USB port that you can also use for a USB memory key with a supplied adaptor or use to connect to your computer to copy files to and manage files in the P4's 2GB internal memory. The only other connectors are a miniplug jack for audio output and the power connector. The P4 worked as promised with JPG and WMV files in my tests. AAXA says it can also read MP4, MP3, and AVI files, as well as formats for various Windows CE apps.

Limitations

No zoom. As with most pocket projectors, the P4 lacks a zoom lens, so the only way to adjust image size is to move the projector.

Unreliable remote. The P4 comes with a remote, but it didn't work reliably in my tests. You can't really count this as a serious problem, however, since most pocket projectors don't come with remotes. Also, the optional wireless keyboard and mouse serves as a highly reliable alternative.

Barely usable audio. As with most pocket projectors, the P4's built-in audio, with its 1-watt speaker, is hardly worth having. Count on plugging in a headset or external powered speakers if you want sound.

Conclusion

The AAXA P4 gets points for its portability and features that enhance that portability. Most obviously, its ability to read files from memory, so you don't have to lug along an image source, can make it a lot more portable in practice than a smaller, lighter projector without that feature.

The P4 also offers some welcome touches that make it easy to setup. It's a lot easier to focus than most pico projectors, with a thumbwheel that has just the right level of resistance to let you control it easily. And like many pocket projectors, it comes with a tripod you can use to adjust the height and make it easier to point up or down to whatever you're using for a screen.

Granting that the AAXA P4 would be a more compelling choice if it fully lived up to its promise -- letting you use its full resolution for external sources in particular -- it still offers enough the way it is to qualify as impressive. Keep in mind too that many, if not most, projectors in this category offer only 640x480 native resolution, the same resolution the P4 drops to for external sources. That makes this a shortcoming only in context of the projector's own widescreen resolution. And it's hard to complain too much about issues that wouldn't be limitations if an extra feature weren't there to begin with.

In any case, the P4 stands out for both its high level of image quality and for its balance of image quality, brightness, features, and price. Taken together, that's easily enough to make it well worth considering as is. And it's attractiveness will increase dramatically with the promised firmware upgrade that will let you take better advantage of its full resolution.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our AAXA P4 projector page.

Comments (6) Post a Comment
Andrew Ray Posted Feb 4, 2012 6:23 AM PST
Found a solution to the resolution problem for Mac OS X. Using switchResX, you need to create a custom display with the following settings: 1056x600, 60.000 Hz. (Note the 60.000 Hz, if you use 60.3Hz you'll get a vertical band on the screen where the color is off, causing glowing pink faces.) You then select the 800x600 option in the sources menu.
Dave Sherrill Posted Oct 4, 2012 4:38 PM PST
Bought this product, and it for like a year. I am currently a college student who lives in messy and cluttered dorms, and I found this projector extremely useful. I use it for entertainment, and I can literally bring it everywhere.
teacher angy Posted Dec 30, 2012 10:02 PM PST
Thank you for this info. It was good to know about using a regular keyboard and if i could just open a powerpoint and show it.
Mandy Posted Nov 5, 2013 10:50 AM PST
Where can I purchase this device, and not the P4-X? The website itself only sells the P4-X and other websites will say P4, but actually be selling you the P4-X. The P4 has the windows ce software, whereas the newer P4-X does not. Please advise.
R.P Posted Apr 30, 2014 11:11 PM PST
Amazing Projector! Ideal for students and Adults !! I use it all the time.
Moctar Posted Jun 11, 2020 2:57 PM PST
Hi Need aaxa p4 Anderson p4x firmware flash.

Advance thank

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