Optoma Pico PK320 WVGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$799 MSRP Discontinued

If you make small group presentations and do not need the brightness of a full-size projector, the Optoma PK320 is a new 100-lumen pico projector that should interest you. It is small, light, and full-featured with a street price of about $425. Its 854x480 native resolution works well for both widescreen movies and standard 4:3 presentation material. And if you store your images in the projector's internal memory or have them on a USB memory stick, you won't have to haul your computer along to display them. Unlike most of its competitors, the PK320 has a built-in Microsoft Office compatible viewer that handles Word and Excel files without file conversion.

The PK320 has a rechargeable battery that is specified to last for about 45 minutes in Standard mode and 90 minutes in Eco mode, but it can only put out 50 and 25 lumens, respectively. The AC adapter must be used for 100-lumen output. An optional larger battery extends projection times and can provide 100-lumen output for about two hours. Of course, at 100 lumens and lower, ambient light must be controlled for an acceptable image, but with small groups and an image in the 40" range, performance is very good for a half-pound projector.

The PK320 comes with a one-year warranty on the projector and a 90-day warranty on the battery. Since the illumination source is a set of LEDs with a rated life of over 20,000 hours, you will be getting a new projector before you ever have to think about replacing the LEDs. As a DLP-based projector, there is virtually no maintenance required for the PK320 although an occasional vacuuming of the air intake vents is always a good idea.

The Viewing Experience

The first thing you will notice when turning on the PK320 is that the remote control looks unconventional. Rather than the usual array of pushbuttons, the remote has a set of seven icons that perform different functions depending on the mode you are in. You can get to a traditional (though limited) display menu that allows tweaking of brightness, contrast, sharpness, and gamma settings. But those same icons can also do source selection and data transfers from your computer. Getting used to what the icons control takes some practice, but it is an efficient method for getting to the functions available on the PK320 once you have some experience using the remote.

The PK320 is specified with a projection distance range of 8-235 inches which corresponds to an image diagonal of 5-150 inches, but the optical system of our test unit did not function well over that entire range. Clear focus could be achieved out to a projection distance of about 65 inches which produced an image diagonal of about 40 inches. Beyond that point, the image began to blur slightly. That had little effect on movie viewing where a soft focus can actually improve the look of the image, but small text was hard to decipher at larger than a 40-inch diagonal.

Key Features

Image Quality: For such a small projector, the PK320 does very well in putting up saturated and evenly balanced color. Data images have adequate contrast, and photos are lifelike. Flesh tones in video images are good, but shadow detail and highlights are somewhat limited by the PK320's 1,000:1 contrast ratio. Like most pico projectors, the PK320 uses LED illumination. Unlike most picos, the PK320 exhibits no rainbow artifacts at all.

Brightness and Uniformity: Like many projectors, the PK320 fell a bit short of its 100-lumen specification. It put up 87 lumens in Bright mode, 78 lumens in Movie mode, 40 lumens in Standard mode, and 23 lumens in Eco mode. Note that Bright and Movie mode brightness levels are not available in battery operation as you must use the AC adapter to achieve the brightest picture.

Our sample unit's brightness uniformity was a respectable 78%, or about normal for this class of projector. The right side of the image was slightly brighter than the right.

Internal Memory: The PK320 provides 2 GB of internal memory which is plenty for most Microsoft Office presentations. If you need more capacity for, say, a series of high-resolution photos, the PK320's microSD slot will accommodate up to 32GB cards.

Connectivity: Through the use of mini connectors and adapters, the PK320 accommodates a wide range of inputs. Adapters are supplied for connecting a computer (VGA) and composite video (triple RCA), and a USB connection can be made via the included USB adapter (mini-to-Type A).

Unlike most pico projectors, the PK320 offers a digital input via a mini-HDMI connector. To connect to it, you will need an optional cable that adapts the mini-HDMI to a full-size HDMI, but it is worth the expense if you have a digital source such as a DVD player.

Battery Life: The PK320 is rated at 45 and 90 minutes battery life in Standard and Eco modes, respectively. However, our test unit turned in times of 60 minutes in Standard mode and nearly two hours in Eco mode. If you need extended display time in battery mode, you can purchase a larger battery for about $100.

Aspect Ratio: The PK320 handles widescreen 480i video nicely with its native 854x480 resolution. Several competitors offer an 800x600 native mode, but that means black bands above and below a 16:9 image. Still, for data projections, you may prefer the 4:3 aspect ratio of an 800x600 display.

Fan noise: When projectors get into the 100-lumen range, enough heat is generated to require an exhaust fan. Fortunately, even in high brightness mode, the PK-320's fan is unobtrusive, and in Eco mode, it is nearly inaudible.

Shortcomings

Projector Control Panel: The control panel on top of the PK320 mirrors the icons on the remote control. However, pushing buttons on the control panel can jostle the projector.

On-Screen Menus: The on-screen menus for image adjustment have no labels, only icons, so you have to be careful when selecting the function of each icon. Each function is labeled differently depending on the mode you have chosen, but it can be confusing at first glance. Practice makes perfect, but if you use the PK320 infrequently, you may have to spend some time re-acquainting yourself with the icon functionalities.

Optional Accessories: Several adapters are shipped with the PK320 including adapters for composite video and VGA computer inputs. But there are also a few optional accessories that you might want, and they increase the cost of the projector system. They include a mini HDMI-to-HDMI adapter (needed if you are attaching a digital source), a female USB adapter (for connecting USB flash drives), a component video adapter that fans out into five RCA females for video and audio, and an iPod/iPhone adapter. Prices range from $20-30 apiece.

Placement Flexibility: Like most pico projectors, the PK320 has a fixed throw ratio (1.6:1). With no zoom lens, that means you will have to set up at a specific distance from the screen for each image diagonal you want. For example, for a 60" diagonal, the projector will be 12 feet from the screen. If this is inconvenient, you will have to move the PK320 and live with a larger or smaller image.

Image Focus: Inexpensive pico projectors often lack the sophistication of larger projectors when it comes to lens performance, and the PK320 is no exception. The best focus setting for our sample went a bit "soft" with image diagonals over 40 inches.

Audio Quality: It came as no surprise that the PK320's 1-watt speaker sounded weak with no bass response, but voices were clear if not full-bodied. If there is much ambient noise, you may want to avail yourself of the audio mini-jack output for an external amplifier.

Documentation: The quick start guide is pretty vague but you can get the PK320 up and running with a little experimentation. The user guide can be downloaded from the projector to your computer, but even the full manual is a little hard to follow.

Conclusion

With the widest range of inputs among the pico projectors in the 100-lumen category, Optoma's PK320 gives its owner a great deal of versatility at a modest price. Its 16:9 native aspect ratio is terrific for watching movies without interpolation required, and both data and video quality are very good as long as image size is kept under 40 inches. Video looks good even at larger image sizes, but data images suffer from some image fuzziness. There are lower cost pico projectors on the market, but the PK320 is the only one with both a digital input and a 100-lumen capability.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma Pico PK320 projector page.

Comments (9) Post a Comment
Nabi Posted Mar 29, 2012 3:47 PM PST
I've found that the entry point for 'satisfactory' is 200 lumens in an 8x6. I tested the Optomas and they just don't cut it. The best deal around is the Acer K11--very robust, compact and versatile--the only caveats being that you need either an outlet or a power source, it won't recognize Divx from a thumb drive, and you're better off running the sound via your laptop.
Jeff Grant Posted Jul 29, 2012 11:00 PM PST
I recently purchased a Optoma PK320 pico projector and found two very basic reasons why I will not buy anymore of optoma's products: 1.Their customer service is none existent. 2.The device does not work with flash drives. the advertisement says it does work across some cable that is mentioned in their booklet but doesn't really exist. I have searched in their own website only to find out there is no such Universal to USB Female Adapter cable.
TS Padda Posted Dec 17, 2012 8:52 AM PST
An extremely beautiful piece for impromptu projection in business meetings. Very easy to operate with no hassels for word, excel, ppt files which can be loaded onto the projector. In short just pull it out of your pocket and you are ready to go
curso88 Posted Sep 9, 2013 3:54 PM PST
@Nabi

The Acer K11 not includes internal media center and battery. The Acer K11 projector is not as versatile as the Optoma PK320, personally believe that the Acer K11 not is a real pocket projector or Picoprojector. I have the Optoma PK320 and tried the Samsung H03 and I can say that I'm very satisfied with the PK320

Regard to product support, I not have any problem in my country in Europe. In reference to Jeff Grant and do not understand how you want to use a special cable to connect an external USB instead of a microSD ... A external USB requires 5 volts with 0,5 Amp. of power. Flash drives are compatible, you are cheek it whit out the cable?¿... LOL I doubt My advice is that you use a VGA cable extender with the included VGA cable or a normal HDMI cable to connect in your PC, Videogames , multimedia hard disks, etc... The perfect product does not exists¡¡¡ I'm happy with my purchase. I know that my PK320 has the typical limitations of pico projectors (Battery life, limitations in illuminated rooms, codec limitations, etc.) but I'm satisfied with this gadget because provides for me "priceless" hours of entertainment :)
Devon Perry Posted Jan 6, 2014 4:53 PM PST
I had an Optoma PK201 (slightly smaller and only 20 lumens version of the PK320) for over 3 years. This unit had the same connectivity option as the PK320 and I was very satisfied with it.

I used the PK201 mainly for movies when traveling so the shortcomings were not an issue. Movies were watched in the dark at up to 60", a media player was connected to the PK201 with external audio and power was provided externally rather than battery.

My PK201 lasted about 3 years till it started losing pixels but this seems to be a common issue among many DLP projectors which was a little disappointing since the rated led life gives you the impression that these units will last a long time.

Overall I was still impressed with the unit and I think the PK320 is very similar but much brighter.

As for some of the comments below: I can't comment on customer service as I've never had to use them. I'm pretty sure the PK320 will work with flash drives (usb keys not harddrives) as the PK201 did. You will need what is called a USB OTG (on the go) cable which has a male micro usb connector on one end and a female USB A connector on the other end. I had one for my PK201, the same cable (bought 4 years ago) now works with my Galaxy S4 for connecting usb keys. They can be bought on ebay for less than $5.
Geoff Posted Jan 26, 2014 2:32 AM PST
I received the older PK301 as a gift.

I've loved the ~20 times I've used the PK301 in the last ~three years, but - despite storing it safely and not taking it out into the world much - it has begun showing "stars" on the image, both bright and dull. The 30-second Google diagnosis suggests an expensive fix.

I'm hesitant to shell out a little more for a PK320 when I've gotten so little use out of the predecessor. Can someone comment on the long-term performance of the PK320?
Marc Erdrich Posted Apr 14, 2014 1:18 PM PST
I have been very disappointed with Optoma products. With just over a year of what I would call light usage on my PK301, the starring problem began and the the image rapidly deteriorated until the projector was no longer usable. Because of the one year warranty and the cost of repair, I might as well just throw the projector away. My sense is that Pico projectors are not really ready for prime time. They're basically a novelty.
Ign Posted Jul 30, 2014 6:29 PM PST
Hi guys, I recently lost my AC charger so I bought a new generic one from ebay. Somehow the battery charges but as soon as I turn the projector on it only works for 40 - 50 mins. does anyone know if the projector only works with original charger? cheers
Gaz666 Posted Jan 13, 2015 8:39 AM PST
I've had a PK320 for just over a year now, say on average 5 hours use a day, so approx 2000 hours, and the unit is on its way out, yellowing on half the screen, starring where dust is inside the unit... Just found out that Optoma will charge £66 just to look at it, I'm not paying over 20% of the price of the unit just to be told it needs this and that, I'll end up paying half of what it costs again...

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