Optoma Pico PK201 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
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
$549 MSRP Discontinued


The Optoma PK201 pico projector solves a problem common to all portable media players, which is the tiny screen size limited to the physical dimensions of the device. Able to comfortably fit in a pocket, the PK201 has the ability to produce an image that is viewable in normal lighting at a size up to twenty times greater than an iPhone screen. A full feature set combined with a crisp and saturated image make the PK201 a great standalone alternative to small screen portable media devices.

The PK201 can be used with any video source - portable media players, phones, computers, etc. The LED driven light engine allows the PK201 to be used like a normal monitor or flat panel without lamp hour considerations like most projectors. It provides a quality image and is ideal for one who views media on the go or one who requires a mobile display around the home or office.


Feature Improvements: I reviewed the earlier version of this projector, the PK102, in December of 2009. The PK201 addresses most of the limitations I identified in prior version and adds a few other important features. The PK201 includes a Contrast control that allows for maximum image brightness while maintaining image detail at high picture levels.

The PK201 adds a micro SD card slot that supports cards up to 16 GB in size, giving the ability to directly display picture and video on the PK201 from a camera or other source devices by simply transferring a memory card. Resolution is also increased, from the native 640x480 resolution of the PK102 to 854x480 of the PK201.

The native resolution is increased by a respectable 33%, but the real advantage of the PK201 is with wide screen material. The PK201's resolution is 52% greater than the 4:3 aspect ratio PK102.

Audio capability is also improved in the PK201 with the addition of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Picture Quality/Brightness: The Optoma PK201 is a DLP projector driven by a LED light engine specified at 20 ANSI lumens. It measured very close to the lumen spec at 18.6 ANSI-lumens or 93.2% of the specification. While a 18 ANSI-lumen output might seem insignificant in the era of 1,000 lumen home theater projectors, this level of brightness in sufficient to create a reasonable sized image that can be appreciated in normal room lighting. Using the PK201, one can reach a screen size of 14 inches wide (16 inches in diagonal) and still exceed 25 foot-lamberts on a unity gain surface.

The picture displayed by the PK201 at this screen size is dynamic with a nice degree of image punch. The PK201 can also support screen sizes significantly larger and still produce a satisfying image. I was able to throw an image size of about 40 inches in diagonal (to simulate a common flat panel size) and found the image viewable with a lamp on in the room, but much improved when all lighting was turned off.

While the PK201 will not replace a flat panel for daytime viewing, it could be an ultra-portable alternative to a flat panel when used in areas with minimal lighting. In my theater room, using a Da-Lite High Power with the PK201 positioned for optimal screen gain, I felt the maximum image size of the PK201 at about 60 inches of diagonal was watchable in the total dark from a brightness perspective, but felt that a 40-inch diagonal was a better balance between image impact, brightness and clarity.

Sound: While the earlier PK102 has a built-in media player, the audio reproduction was limited to using the projector's internal 0.5-watt speaker. The PK201 adds a 3.5-inch headphone jack for use with headphones. The sound quality of the headphone output using the built-in media player is decent, but has a noticeable noise floor most evident in quite passages at near peak volume levels.

When using an Apple iPhone as the video source, I was able to either listen to the audio using a headphone connection on the phone or from the PK201's audio out. Overall, I preferred the sound quality using the direct iPhone audio output, but the sound quality of the PK201 is more than sufficient to be used as a standalone device. The PK201's internal speaker is functional, but quiet. The maximum audio output from the speaker was not sufficient to overcome even a modest amount of ambient noise.

Cost of Ownership: The PK201 can be found for under $300 on-line. Optoma rates the light engine of the PK201 for 20,000 hours of run time. Over the course of 20,000 hours, a standard projector would need quite a few bulb replacements at many times the PK201's total cost. For a fraction of the total ownership cost of a standard projector, one can use the PK201 for a nearly unlimited time.


Battery: Optoma specifies battery life of the 3.7V li-ion rechargeable battery as 'up to one hour'. In normal performance using an external source, I found this to be accurate using the normal brightness mode. Using the low lamp mode, I was able to get an additional 10 to 15 minutes of run time.

The PK201 will charge when powered off and plugged into a computer using a micro USB cable. However, if the projector is powered on when connected to a PC over USB, the projector's display shuts off. Optoma provides an optional cable for connecting the DC power in on the USB port. Using this connection, it should be possible to power the PK201 as long as the USB source device is active.

Throw distance and lens performance: The PK201 has a fixed throw ratio of 2.20:1. When using the PK201 as a secondary computer monitor, I was limited to a 10-inch wide screen size by the 22.5 inch width of my desk. Image sizes up of to fifty percent greater are viewable in normal, non-direct room lighting. So a zoom lens allowing a wider projection angle would be a nice additional feature. However, it would probably add complexity and cost to the design.

Another limitation of the lens is a significant amount of light spill around the edges of the projected image. The area of light spill was relatively large - it reached approximately 50% beyond the width of the image. Although the focus mechanism is improved over the PK102, I still had difficulty in dialing in an acceptable focus once image sizes reached larger than the 40-inch diagonal range. Consistency in focus across the screen was difficult to maintain at image sizes near the maximum.

Resolution: The PK201 has a 480-line vertical resolution equal to that of DVD and other NTSC sources. This helps it perform well with video material. However, the 854x480 native resolution can be a limiting factor when it comes to using it as a computer display. The PK201 supports multiple computer resolutions (up to 1280x800). Its native 854x480 format will map standard VGA (640x480) without scaling, but SVGA (800x600) and higher resolutions will require compression and the associated artifacts that come with it.

When using the PK201 as a computer monitor, you need to choose between the degree of scaling artifacts you have, and how much scrolling around the image you want to put up with. Using higher resolution signals will reduce the need to scroll around, but artifacts get exaggerated and the picture is not as sharp. I preferred using an 800x600 resolution for general office type work, as this was a good balance between scaling artifacts and the amount of scrolling that was required.


A common question arises when pico projectors are discussed: "Wow, that is cool, but what do you use it for?" There is not a short answer to this with the Optoma PK201. During my testing I used it as an external iPhone display. I also used it with a Motorola Droid to display pictures and video podcasts by plugging the Droid's micro SD card into it. The PK201 was also useful for watching movies and displaying photos using the internal media player. I also used the PK201 around the office as a secondary computer monitor and as the ultimate on-the-spot presentation device with Microsoft PowerPoint files converted with the included ArcSoft software.

With 18 ANSI lumens of light output, there is sufficient image brightness for a variety of uses. With major improvements over the prior model, the PK201 is a fully featured projector that you can carry around in a pocket and forget it is there. Portable media is becoming ubiquitous; if you have ever wished you could fit a 14" (or larger) display in your pocket, I would highly recommend the Optoma PK201.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma Pico PK201 projector page.

Comments (47) Post a Comment
Kathy Gardner Posted May 31, 2010 12:06 PM PST
I'm a school teacher. If my students made movies using my flip camera, could I project them on a wall/screen using the Optoma Pico PK-201? Could a class of 25 students see the image? Using my apple computer (I know I need some kind of cable), could I project website grammar games up on the wall/screen for full-class participation? If you don't think the Optoma Pico PK-201 can do this, what projector should I look for---at about the same price? (Usefulness wins over picture quality.) Thanks for your help.
TopShop Posted Jul 13, 2010 1:09 PM PST
I don't recommend using pico projectors for a classroom setting unless you can turn off all the lights and close the curtains to get a very dark room. In smaller groups (<10) and moderate light, you could consider one of the larger, "micro" projectors such as the AAXA M1+ that was recently reviewed.
Victor E. Lindal Posted Jul 24, 2010 7:38 AM PST
What were the answers to Kathy's questions. My same questions . Vic
Justin Chan. Posted Nov 3, 2010 9:04 PM PST
I have just bought the PK201. Can i connect it to the IPAD? what kind of cables do i need to purchase in order to present great quality still photos and videos in business meeting?? I have also bought a micro SD card, but of 32GB ! I have just found out that it only support 16GB ! Can i still use my 32GB card ???
Alberto Posted Nov 14, 2010 11:57 AM PST
Question: Can anyone tell me how can i connect a USB flash drive to my PK201? I already bought an adapter for mini USb and usb female, and plug my USB flash drive and it doesn't read it
Jerry Posted Nov 24, 2010 5:49 PM PST
I am a new user of the Pico PK 201 and I am trying to get a pdf from my Blackberry to bluetooth to my PK 201. Can anyone help me with the procedure. Please advise
Wade (Toronto) Posted Dec 12, 2010 1:00 AM PST
I recently bought this unit. It puts up an amazing picture, There are some issues with getting the entire image in focus when viewing text but for video its not really noticable. I'm assuming these are imperfections in the tiny tiny lens throwing up a 77 inch image. Also to note the unit heats up significantly! Wow mine sure gets hot when playing from the SD card and the battery, I could do some testing later but the bottom gets extremely hot. Worries me about life of the LED's in the unit without any FAN, I believe the bottom could have been a better passive heatsink. Maybe they have accounted for that, and this amount of heat is normal, but to me it gets too HOT. Really thats quite a bit of wasted energy to heat, so much so the unit has a temp sensor that when its that hot, if you try and charge the battery, it will wait unit it has cooled. I'd like to hear from some people that have worked it hard and long, to attest to it's durability.

The DLP engine to me, still gives the best picture of any type of tv/projector known to man yet. And this pico version goes in your pocket for $300 bucks. As long as the unit gets near the 20,000 hours claimed, its worth every cent. I've had issues with filetypes to play from SDcard but once you find one it likes, no problems using Handbrake to Mpeg files, it doesn't seem to like h.264 iphone files though, so either convert or play with a cable direct from iphone. I use this unit with my iphone to stream Live Sunday and Monday Night Football while at work ;) Have fun.
Carlos Lara Posted Dec 21, 2010 11:57 AM PST
I have a problem with the pk201 I can not to see documents, power point, when I use the converter, it say me that I need install the power point. I have power point in my PC. I dont understen. Help me. Thanks
bbg Posted Dec 27, 2010 10:25 AM PST
I have a lot of the same questions as above. Does anyone ever answer these questions?
Matt Posted Jan 31, 2011 4:28 PM PST
Can this pico 201 be powered with a 220 Volts for overseas travel?
Thao Posted Feb 7, 2011 7:40 AM PST
Matt: yes, it's fine to play overseas with a simple adaptor.

Wade(Toronto): On Handbrake, what file type did you convert your video files to? I've tried a few and nothing seem to work for the PK201.
Ulf Hagen Ruttmann Posted Feb 28, 2011 7:01 AM PST
(translated to English below) Seit drei Tagen gelingt es mir nicht den neuen Optoma Pico PK 201 an meinen mac pro anzuschließen. Doch das Setup funktioniert nicht. Problembehebung, Kundenbetreuung Fehlanzeige.

Google translation: For three days I manage is not the new Optoma Pico PK 201 on my mac pro to join. But the setup does not work. Troubleshooting, customer support nil.
Jen Posted Apr 12, 2011 5:00 PM PST
Re the query about 220v and overseas travel, can you give more details on the "simple adapter" required? I'd like to obtain one before I travel. Thanks
Safa Posted May 21, 2011 4:27 PM PST
i am trying to get a new adapter.. can anyone help?
Ben Posted Jul 18, 2011 1:04 AM PST
great little projector but I cannot find strong support for the micro sd card I bought for it. any help would be greatly appreciated.
Assad Taha Posted Aug 3, 2011 8:06 PM PST
It is international voltage and Hz (says so at the back of the charger)
Assad Taha Posted Aug 3, 2011 8:08 PM PST
The micrSD card is god storage for relatively large video files on the go
Assad Taha Posted Aug 3, 2011 8:09 PM PST
It is not Mac compatible
Assad Taha Posted Aug 3, 2011 8:14 PM PST
Absolutely YES
Brian Richardson Posted Aug 10, 2011 11:40 AM PST
Ive just recieved my PK201, and not very happy! I bought it to play AVI movie files. I transfered the movie to a micro sd card, thinking it would just play, but it didnt. I then transfered it from my computer, to the micro sd card, which I placed into the PK201, through the software contained within. The process took over 3hrs for a 2 gig movie..... is this the norm? If it is, then the OPTOMA PK201 is not for me and someone will be getting a bargain on EBAY, very soon. I assumed it would be as easy as 'drag and drop'. Am I doing something wrong? Obviously I'm no computer whizz kid, just wanted something quick and simple. Any comments would make my mind up as to whether to keep it or not. Thanks for reading this and advise you might be able to give me.
Beung Posted Aug 18, 2011 1:33 AM PST
It is very compatible to my macbook.
Beung Posted Aug 18, 2011 1:35 AM PST
If you have problems with playing movies via sdcard, transfer your movies into mp4. Just search for an avi to mp4 software online.
Ed S Posted Aug 19, 2011 1:36 PM PST
Would the Optoma Pico PK201 Projector function well for a Powerpoint presentation to a group or 25-30 attendees? If not, what would you recommend that's not too expensive? Thank you!
Linda Posted Aug 22, 2011 3:51 PM PST
Just got a pk201 - need some clear info on what I need to connect it to my iphone4
Nafie Posted Oct 2, 2011 4:32 AM PST
Hi everybody I have the same problem same like Carlos Lara in his question. When i search for presentation in my sd card i alway get the same message: NOT FOUND , though i put ptt and pttx files in the sd card.
Barbara Posted Oct 17, 2011 2:17 PM PST
Can I project pictures stored on my PC with the pico 201?
AUGUSTO IBARGUEN Posted Nov 7, 2011 5:25 PM PST

Attempted translation: Two friends and I have a problem with seeing black and white spots. Does anyone know why?
Amy Posted Dec 11, 2011 11:45 AM PST
I can't get the projector and computer to talk to each other so taht I can display what is on my monitor on the wall (keeping it on both the monitor and the wall).

The user manual is not helping at all.
Menno Posted Jan 3, 2012 10:43 PM PST
I am having the same problem. After almost a year I am now having black and white spots (dead pixels) and they are increasing rapidly. Anyone contacted Optoma about this ?
Edi Posted Jan 15, 2012 5:07 PM PST
I had same problem with Menno a few month ago, so contacted the technical support, and shipped it. After more than a month, the my projector has came back home. They have replaced whole main board circuit. I called to ask what was the main problem, but did't tell me what was the problem. then, I have used just a few time since then. Suddently I see those white spots are coming back again on the screen.... Now I am out of warranty... and don't know what to do...... I'm very frustrated, and encouraging people never even look at any Pico projector from.... Optoma...
Dr. Theophil Asit Posted May 1, 2012 8:37 AM PST
I am having the same problem In my Optoma PK201 projector.after almost a year I am now having black and white spots (dead pixels) and they are increasing rapidly When i showing a AVI movie. How can i get relive from this problem. Pls. tell me what can i do now??????
Tess G Posted Jun 23, 2012 8:51 AM PST
I have spent all afternoon trying to get my Pico Optoma to play my video files. It keeps saying not compatible but last week it played an MP 4 file absolutely fine. Today it played one file but rejected the other video that I had made in the same way? I bought it for an exhibition anmd its just not working. Any ideas? Thanks
Eugene A. Santoro Posted Jul 18, 2012 7:59 AM PST
How can I get rid of condensation inside the lens of my P201?
Shana Slayton Posted Aug 13, 2012 7:56 PM PST
Hi bought my PK-201 off of ebay said it would not stay powered on that battery was dead not showing any charging when plugged into the wall. The unit will power on long enough to see Optoma on the wall then it will power off then back on again. I purchased a battery from a company but never received it as they refunded my money. My problem is I have a reunion in next 2 weeks and need projector is it possible to use with plugged in wall without battery. If anyone can help please we need it.
debra sookparlie Posted Aug 21, 2012 4:11 PM PST
i stored some pdf files on my sd card along with other presentations in my sd card on my pk 201 projector but for some reason the pdf files are not showing up ,please advice
Susan Posted Sep 4, 2012 8:42 AM PST
Wondering if the problem has been solved??? I was trying to show a presentation last night and it just turns off. Plugged into wall at home and the battery does not show it is charging?????? HELP! Is there an internal battery that ever needs replacing?
Lori Lieder Posted Nov 1, 2012 3:33 PM PST
Having issues with the pk201 reading files from a USB flash drive???? with the female USB - it recognizes that the USB is plugged in but says there are no files available?? Need for presentations quickly!!
Ruben Acero Posted Dec 12, 2012 4:03 PM PST
complete frustation, im have seen that so many people have the same white and black sopts issue and optoma doesn´t has any solution for that, i bought mine in a travel tomiami Florida, and it was a waste of money at all, no more optoma EVER.
leo Posted Mar 7, 2013 5:40 PM PST
I dont understand????? i already arranged my powerpoint presentation thru my miniSD on my laptop but to my dismay.. when I put my SD card to my Optoma projector, the pictures of my powerpoint is scrambled... please help me! thanks.
Lisa Posted Mar 14, 2013 9:41 PM PST
I was also having trouble getting my pk201 to play video files from a microSD card. I finally got one to work. I think it has a lot to do with how you convert the video file. Looking in the user manual, there is a small section on Multimedia Format: Video. You have to make sure your video meets these specifications. I have WinX Video Converter already installed on my PC, so I used this program to convert a .mov file I had made using imovie. I took the .mov file I had and converted it to a .mov file changing some of the specifications. I made sure the resolution was 720x480. I changed the video frames rate to 30fps and it worked! It's playing now. This is a 25 minute movie, 289MB in size. It also says in the manual to use their Arcsoft MediaConverter to convert video and PowerPoint files, but I didn't have any luck with their converter...it just seemed to take forever. Maybe this will help some of you with the same problem. Good luck!
Mario Rueda Posted Jun 5, 2013 1:42 PM PST
Hi, I have a problem with seeing black and white spots. Does anyone know why?
Mike G Posted Jun 28, 2013 1:11 PM PST
Hardly used it until a week ago, when I decided to watch a movie with it. BIG MISTAKE.

About an 45 in, I had a few white pixels. 15 minutes after that, nearly the entire screen was filled with black and white pixels. And these seem to be there to stay, thus rendering it useless now.

Strangely, the pixels form the outline of the PK-201's built in main menu - you can clearly see the magnifying glass and RAM chip icons as those are areas without pixels. Why would it 'burn in' the main menu, whilst playing a movie (constant motion)? Lord know.

And of course this thing is outside of warranty now. Thinking of buying it? Sure, but don't use it more than 30-45 minutes on end.
Rich Posted Aug 23, 2013 1:14 PM PST
Oh, they have a solution for the white spots okay...send them $125 (thats UNDER warrenty) and thye will fix it....anyone got another manufacturer to suggest?
oscar gonzalez arellano Posted Nov 25, 2013 4:42 PM PST
Necesito un diagrama, mi proyector se daño y no tiene garantía pk201
peluo Posted Dec 18, 2013 8:15 AM PST
veo con preocupación que todos al final tienen problemas con los píxeles muertos ( PUNTOS BLANCOS Y NEGROS)en la imagen. nadie tiene respuesta a este problema. el equipo queda inútil ya que interfiere en la imagen. en conclusión. NO SIRVE..EL MIO SE DAÑO CON POCO USO....NO SIRVE A LA EMPRESA QUE LO VENDE 015804265929972 QUE ME LLAME Y ME SOLUCIONE Y CAMBIARÉ DE OPINIÓN
Anuj Posted Jul 30, 2014 1:05 AM PST
Unfortunately I am regretting to buy Pico Projector. All the problems mentioned are obvious in the product.

1. White spots have spread across the entire secret.

2 Does not charge while in use!

3. Connectivity issues with Apple iPad and Mac.

andrew chan Posted Aug 2, 2014 1:22 PM PST
Brought my pk201 new at ebay, it's was a little pricy, only good for 3 movies, than all I can see is black and white dots, no more optoma for me in this life of mine.

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