Optoma Pico PK301 WVGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$749 MSRP Discontinued

Let's say you have some video clips on your iPhone, a portable DVD player with photos, a brief PowerPoint presentation on your laptop, and you need to see five different clients in their homes and offices today. The last thing you want to do is haul a briefcase-size projector with you, so what do you do? You slip the Optoma PK-301, the company's newest pico projector, into your coat pocket, and off you go.

As long as ambient light can be controlled, the PK-301 is bright enough for intimate settings. It offers a digital input via an optional adapter cable, and if you store your images in the projector's internal memory, you won't need any external sources at all. Battery operation is good for 45 to 90 minutes depending on content, and there's an AC adapter for longer presentations. At a list price of $399, the 854 x 480 native-mode PK-301 is attractively priced, and its small size and 0.5 lb. weight is a real advantage for mobile presenters.

 

Overview

Brightness and Uniformity: Unlike many projectors, the PK-301 more than delivers on its brightness specification of 50 ANSI lumens. It put up 53 lumens in both Bright and Movie modes, 26 lumens in Standard mode, and 13 lumens in Eco mode. Note that Bright and Movie mode brightness levels are not available in battery operation . . . you must use the AC adapter to achieve the brightest picture.

Our sample unit's brightness uniformity of 72% was a little lower than expected for LED illumination where light is more collimated than with high-pressure lamps, and the left side of the image was slightly brighter than the right.

Connections: To save space, Optoma uses micro connectors on the rear of the PK-301, so adapter cables are required. The included cables are a Universal I/O which terminates in a female DB-15 for computer connection, an AV cable with RCA connectors for composite video, and a Micro USB that presents a full-size USB male connector. These micro connectors also accommodate several optional adapter cables. There is also a mini-jack audio output for an external amplifier and a micro SD slot on the side of the PK-301.

Image Size and Position: To project a 72" diagonal image in native 16:9 aspect ratio, the PK-301 needs to be about 9.5 feet from the screen for the focus adjustment to be effective. Image offset is +18.5% of image height, so a 72" diagonal image has its lower edge about 6.5" above the centerline of the lens. This is a good offset for tabletop placement as the center of the image is at about eye level for an audience that is sitting close to the screen.

User Settings: It is common for pico projectors to limit the ability to change image settings, and in the case of the PK-301, brightness, contrast, and two color temperature settings are the only choices. As it turns out, this is not a serious limitation since colors are well balanced in all modes.

Aspect Ratio vs. Brightness: The PK-301's 16:9 aspect ratio is well-suited to video presentations and movies since all of the light falling on the 854 x 480 chip is sent to the screen. However, if you present computer data regularly, you might prefer a 4:3 aspect ratio projector. The PK-301 handles 4:3 presentations with no problem, but part of the DLP chip is not illuminated for content in this aspect ratio, and image brightness and resolution will be reduced. The pixel matrix of a 4:3 image is standard VGA 640x480, rather than 800x600.

File Conversion: Optoma uses ArcSoft's Media Converter software to convert video files, PowerPoint presentations, etc. so that they can be stored in and played back from the PK-301's internal memory. Be aware that this converter is not Mac compatible, so Mac files must be displayed directly from your computer.

Warranty: Optoma offers a one-year parts and labor warranty for the PK-301 with a 90-day warranty on the battery.

Advantages

Image Quality: For such a small projector, the PK-301 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 excellent, but shadow detail is somewhat limited. The PK-301 uses LED illumination, and rainbow effects are minimal.

Digital Input: Few pico projectors offer a digital connection, but you will find a mini-HDMI on the PK-301. 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: Though the standard battery life is specified as "up to one hour" in Eco mode, our test unit delivered a simple PowerPoint presentation for nearly 90 minutes. It also lasted for 45 minutes in composite video mode. If you need extended display time in battery mode, you can purchase a larger battery for about $100.

Aspect Ratio: With its native 854 x 480 resolution, the PK-301 maps widescreen 480i video one-for-one . . . a rarity among pico projectors. Most competitors offer an 800 x 600 native mode which is great for standard 4:3 data presentations, but it means black bands above and below a 16:9 image.

Fan noise: You might think that a pico projector would not need a fan, but when you get into the 50-lumen range, there is just enough heat generated to warrant one. Fortunately, even in high brightness mode, the PK-301's fan is just a gentle whir, and in Eco mode, it is nearly inaudible.

Remote Control: Even though it is an extra cost item, the remote control is well worth it. It makes it unnecessary to remember what the menu buttons on the projector are for (no easy task), and it keeps the projector from wobbling while you make menu selections . . . a common problem for most pico projectors lacking a remote control.

Lamp Life: Like many pico projectors, the PK-301 relies on color LEDs for illumination of its DLP chip. That translates into an exceptional lamp life of 20,000 hours, so you will probably be tossing the projector before the LEDs fail. Just think . . . no lamp replacement hassle or cost for the life of the projector.

Maintenance: Very simple . . . if you clean the lens once in a while, you are done with maintenance for the life of the PK-301. No air filters to change, no lamps to replace, no nothing.

Limitations

Placement Flexibility: The PK-301 has a fixed 1.8:1 throw ratio. 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 6.5 feet from the screen. If this is inconvenient, then you will have to move the PK-301 and live with a larger or smaller image.

Image Focus: Optics for pico projectors lack the sophistication of their larger brethren, and the PK-301 is no exception. The best focus setting for our sample unit is a bit "soft" and is not consistent across the image. When the top of the image is focused, the bottom is slightly fuzzy. However, the optimum setting produces an acceptable compromise for data images, and some minimal focus softness is not all bad for video, particularly movies.

Audio Quality: As you might expect with a 0.5-watt speaker, the PK-301's audio is weak and tinny, but voices are clear if lacking bass. There is a mini-jack for earphones or an external amplifier, and you may have to use it if there is much ambient noise in the room.

On-Screen Menus: The on-screen menus for image adjustment have no labels, only icons, so you must memorize the function of each icon. It is not that hard for video since there are only five settings, but for data, there are eight settings to contend with (although several of them are used infrequently).

Projector Control Panel: While the remote control is very effective, the control panel on the projector itself is not very intuitive. Pushing buttons on the panel can jostle the projector.

Internal Memory: Only 28 MB of memory is available for internal image storage, but if you need more capacity, the PK-301's microSD slot will accommodate up to 16GB cards.

Optional Accessories: Several adapters are shipped with the PK-301 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 remote control (I recommend it highly), 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.

Conclusion

The Optoma PK-301's combination of aspect ratio and brightness put it in a unique class by itself. With a list price of $399 and very fine video and data images, it is well suited for those who do widescreen presentations, or want to watch movies at home or on the road. A variety of sources can be accommodated although some require optional adapter cables. The cost of the highly desirable remote and whatever optional cables you might want will add to the price. As with all pico projectors, ambient light must be controlled to keep the image from washing out and image controls are minimal. But for intimate presentations to just a few people, or movies anywhere at anytime, the PK-301 is well worth a close look.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma Pico PK301 projector page.

Comments (59) Post a Comment
Barani Srinivasan Posted Aug 15, 2010 4:28 AM PST
Over all a good product. A good value for the money you pay. Was suprised by the output that too video. Hope they come up with another version which has more lumens. :) Only problem I faced is audio getting out of sync while playing video from micro sd card and not while played from external device (Laptop or Iphone).

Would recommend this one.
Mario Consens Posted Sep 12, 2010 10:47 AM PST
If you are not an expert in electronics is really hard to use the 301.The manual dont said nothing about the connection with your laptop. Also you dont have any solutions to usde the Power Point presentation with manual expositions. Pico only offers 2 to 10 seconds. I also try to find support and the web but I didnt get them I will like to get more information so I can use the 301. Thanks,
Eydie Posted Oct 8, 2010 10:01 AM PST
Mario... are you saying that you couldn't use the PK301 for PowerPoint presentations?
carlos moura Posted Oct 26, 2010 11:33 AM PST
I have one PK 301. How can i do for i use powerpoint in this product? In can´t, what´s the software the same can i use?
boris Posted Nov 8, 2010 4:31 AM PST
Hi I just bought PK301 from apple store as bundle but don't know how to connect to a mac - I tried the USB but I can't load the .exe file - which connection should I use to get to my apple mac laptop please? Thanks Boris
Joeng Sukamto Jusuf Posted Nov 10, 2010 8:39 AM PST
I've bought PK301 in Taiwan in July. The quality of color is not good as I imagine. Red becomes fluorescent red. Blue becomes fluorescent blue. Also for Yellow and green. Navy and dark Grey becomes black. For seeing movie 10 minutes, your eyes will be tired. Especially when you force to 50 lumen bright, more fluorescent for its color, which they say more saturated. That very different for its meaning between fluorescent and saturated. I'm accredited colorist for famous company.

It doesn't support Microsoft words, excel conversion to be project on screen-wall even your words, excell already downloaded to its memory card. So you must bring your laptop and make output dual display to monitor and laptop. Its very terrible

Words on wall-screen cannot easily be read. "H"letter for its horizontal line become blurred, but another "H"letter for its vertical line become slim. Also for other 25 letters rest. I've already make my laptop to be vga mode, but the result

Optoma service after sales not satisfied for me. They ask me to make a phone call to tell that problem which I've explain very clear. I've already told them that I live in Indonesia. Do you think I make a call to optoma customer service in USA?
malou Posted Nov 15, 2010 12:59 AM PST
I hope you can create a pico projector with at least 1000 lumens.. that would be great...
Michael Posted Nov 30, 2010 7:28 PM PST
I just bought the projector and I am very frustrated with the lack of a clear set of instructions for connecting the projector to a MAC laptop in order to present a powerpoint presentation. The on-line manual is no better than the one included. There are no customer service call numbers, only a 24-48 hour email helpline. I will have to return this item to the store and look for a more user-friendly model. I have wasted an entire evening trying to get it to work to no avail.
ALEX Posted Dec 9, 2010 2:34 PM PST
Can I use pk301 USB connection with my laptop as a power source to get maximum 50 lumen brightness?
C. Byrd Posted Dec 24, 2010 3:44 PM PST
I have a Pico PK301 and the instructions are faulty. I am trying to connect it to a Mac laptop. Using the USB connection, I can see and open the device icon which appears and can open the PROGRAM folder as instructed, but when I double-click on the SETUP.EXE file it does not launch the setup, it simply opens the file and shows me the code. There appears to be no way to launch the application and nothing about this problem in the instructions. This is sloppy programming/documentation/merchandising and leaves me with an unusable chunk of (expletive deleted).
Larry Posted Jan 6, 2011 7:49 PM PST
I agree this manual sucks and I can't use it with my mac computer.
rene silberstein Posted Jan 10, 2011 6:41 PM PST
I CAN NOT CONECT MY NEW PK301 TO THE MAC HOW CAN I DO IT? FOUND NO ANSWERS TO MANY REQUESTS ON THIS IN THE FORUM PAGE
Emily Posted Jan 14, 2011 10:09 PM PST
The software requires you to run parallels.
Cassidy Lundin Posted Feb 7, 2011 5:30 PM PST
Miserable quick start guide and equally dismal pdf user manual. Like all the other Apple users, I cannot get the Optima PK301 to work with my Mac. I wish I'd seen this site before I bought this projector.
Steve Welch Posted Feb 12, 2011 8:30 AM PST
I mistakenly set it to the wrong language. What is the trick to reselect the language? I have pressed every button at the set-up screen and can't find the language options.
jojo Posted Feb 19, 2011 6:30 AM PST
what other vedio converter can i use for pk301.and what farmate?
Tech_Guru Posted Feb 23, 2011 8:22 PM PST
Just an FYI: a file ending with ".exe" is an executable file coded for Windows, not Mac. Files coded for Mac usually end with ".dmg"
Sonya V Posted Apr 4, 2011 8:04 AM PST
I am trying to use the Pico pk-301 and can move pics to it, but when I try to add a PowerPoint it says I need to install PowerPoint 2007??? There are no instructions on how to do this! So I then converted my PowerPoint to 97-2003 and it still keeps saying file conversion failed!! The manual has NO INFORMATION ON THIS! The manual totally sucks!
Linda Posted Apr 15, 2011 12:06 AM PST
Surprised at how well it works, been using the PK301 in my vj setup for a few weeks now... Has great quality for being so little, can't wait to add a few more to my live setup! Had no problems at all connecting with my Macbook Pro.
hoam Posted Apr 16, 2011 9:35 AM PST
Mac users: You connect it to the Pico with your thunderbolt (aka mini dvi) adapter. I got a mini dvi to hdmi, then I had to buy a hdmi to micro hdmi converter at best buy for ten bucks, plug it in, turn out the lights and wall of glorious goodness.
Gautam Posted Apr 24, 2011 1:39 AM PST
Hi...can somebody plz advise me, how to order pk301? I live in India.
Aquila Posted Apr 30, 2011 10:50 PM PST
I have a question about using 301 with the new PowerPoint 2010. If my PPTX has video files inserted into it, can 301 play the normal slides along with the integrated media files as well?

Can any users out there test this for me and let me know? Thanks in advance!
Aquila Posted Apr 30, 2011 10:52 PM PST
I want to ask any 301 users out there. Can 301 play the new PowerPoint 2010 files that has both normal text slides and the integrated media files (video or audio) inserted? Can anyone test this with their machine and let me know? Thanks a bunch!
Michel Lombard Posted May 1, 2011 6:26 AM PST
Hi, I don't think is possible to find in India, I f you like I can sale the one I got as I am going back to Europe end of June...it's like new and a fantastic projo.
Michel Lombard Posted May 1, 2011 6:34 AM PST
I don't have any problems to connect the pico 301 to the Mac - It works really good in VGA or HDMI cable (best) or its internal micro SD card but don't expect to use the "Presentation" option, as it is compatible only for Windows computer. Either I had no problem to understand the user guide that is simple like the projector is!
Lauren Posted May 24, 2011 7:24 PM PST
Can someone please tell me what I need to do to install this on my MacBook? Do I need to purchase additional cables? Please help
Stephen Posted Jun 13, 2011 4:10 PM PST
I have the exact same issue, I can't load the software, which just makes it a 1/2 lb. of garbage that I've carried around trying to get it to work.. No way to find a solution. Beyond stupid
mo islam Posted Jun 21, 2011 1:58 AM PST
use avc convertor found on cnet download website and use res..480x252 at 384 vid bitrate and itl be perfect for pk301
Mike Posted Jul 24, 2011 4:32 PM PST
Just curious. If the bulb runs out can you replace it? IF so where can you buy a replacement bulb? I haven't seen them anywhere
Yann Posted Sep 12, 2011 1:52 PM PST
Are you using the "HDMI to Mini HDMI"

(1) Convertor/ adaptor

or

(2) Cable

Somebody tried both with PS 3 and says only the "cable" works, not the "adaptor", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irn90WNsxBg My Macbook Air( with a Mini Display to HDMI convertor -> HDMI to HDMI Cable) works with general projector (Sony SXRD VPL-vw40), but not works with PK301 yet with current setting (Mini Display to HDMI convertor -> HDMI to HDMI Cable -> HDMI to Mini HDMI convertor). Anyone have the same question/ solution?
Yann Posted Sep 16, 2011 9:51 AM PST
To project through PK301 miniHDMI port:

(1)For Macbook Air with miniDisplay-to-HDMI adapter, ONLY HDMI-to-miniHDMI "cable" works(NOT HDMI-to-miniHDMI "adapter", it will NOT work!!!).

(2)Same for iPhone and iPad with "Apple Digital AV Adapter"(iPhone/iPad dock connector port-to-HDMI)

(3)And Same for PS3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irn90WNsxBg
Marc Posted Sep 19, 2011 11:24 PM PST
I have been using the PK301 in combination with my iMac, Mac Book Pro and Playstation 3. Initially I used a Mini-HDMI to HDMI adaptor and a mini-display port to HDMI adaptor. Unfortunately the mini-HDMI adaptor has stopped working. I believe it is due to it unable to create a solid connection as the weight of the HDMI cable drags the adaptor down when I have the projector connected to a tripod. I've tried holding the adaptor in and I can see the PK301 in my display preferences window however I am no longer able to get it to connect. I have gotten a mini-display to VGA and connected that to the universal i/o to VGA. It works but the resolution is not as good as the previous 1080i. I have a universal i/o to component coming in the mail to connect to a component cable off my PS3 for bluray discs. My macs both auto detected the PK301 so I don't know why everyone thinks they need to install some .exe file. I use it mainly for art projection tracings of computer files and watching outdoor movies on my wall. It's the best $400 I've ever spent for my art tools; I just wish the mini HDMI adaptor still worked. At some point I'll invest in a straight mini HDMI to HDMI cable without the adaptor in between but I'm not sure that would help. I think it's the connection itself. Thankfully the universal i/o clicks into place.
dennys Posted Sep 26, 2011 4:22 AM PST
Hi, I have a problem with my PK301 I could only use once, and with many points is the pictures, everything looks rainy or frosty, which will be the problem that has to do, I'm from Venezuela and amazon and buy it for not here in Venezuela if warranty service is the soul I owe any help, thanks
meire yamaguchi Posted Sep 30, 2011 12:31 PM PST
I have a Microsoft windows xp. how is it possible to be VGA mode? how to make output dual display to monitor and laptop? As soon I connect the USB cable it turns out.I'm terrible on this and the manual is terrible. Too simple! The memory inside is almost all taken by the program. Can I take it out, at least the manual after been save on my computer?
Jeff Kelsey Posted Oct 27, 2011 6:37 AM PST
Hi, I am pretty computer illiterate but can work most things. When I plug my USB cable in from my lap top the bulb turns off. Can I not use the PK301 to jusu project whats on my laptop onto a screen? Does the power point have to be downloaded to the PK 301 for me to do my presentation. Instructions are terrible on this thing. I am getting ready to take it back to Best Buy because I can get NO technical support!

Gertting mad quick!
Md Nazmul Posted Dec 7, 2011 4:08 AM PST
My Projector is having some defects. When I use this , it projects few white spots . Now the spots are increasing and becoming more. There is no spot on the lens.What is the reason for this? Regards
Cris Posted Dec 25, 2011 2:07 PM PST
How the [&**$%] did you get the setup.exe to work!?! GET CRAZY MAD
Barani Posted Dec 26, 2011 5:19 AM PST
Me too having same white dots issue. This started yesterday with one dot and today there are 30+ on one side and its spreading slowly.. Is my projector dying? Can the DLP chip changed for this?
tony Posted Jan 5, 2012 11:34 AM PST
bought the pico 301 trying to get it to work on my Mac book, ipad iphone, got it to work on normal laptop got all the digital av dock to mini hdmi etc but still getting no file found.....help?
Dorado Don Posted Jan 9, 2012 6:29 AM PST
I'm having the same dot problem on the projection. It's getting worse w/each use. The pk301 w/original battery is almost useless. You need the upgraded rechargeable pack to get any use over 30 to 40 mins. With the dots coming on the device is useless.
rgersten Posted Jan 12, 2012 2:26 AM PST
I'm having exactly the same problem. Started with just a few spots and now it's 30% or more of the entire screen. Any way to fix this or do I have to send it to the service center? Thanks
Kapper Posted Jan 16, 2012 11:27 AM PST
I am having trouble with the same white dots appearing. where do I send it for repair?
Martha Posted Feb 3, 2012 5:02 PM PST
Turre are many white drops on the screen...somebody can help with this?
thor Posted Feb 18, 2012 3:05 AM PST
White dots! I have the same problem as may describe it here.

The projector is loosing brightness and few white dots are emerging. They seem to become more with each use.

The batter is completely dead, too. A shame to put in such a bad battery in what is otherwise and expensive gadget.

My PK 301 has had very little use, but is now just over 1 year old.

Can anyone pls advice on what causes this problem and how it can be fixed?
Zula Posted Mar 6, 2012 8:17 AM PST
Can anyone please help!! How can I install the software ( load the setup.exe file) on MAC??
JOHNCL Posted Mar 24, 2012 11:32 AM PST
How do you delete a PPT presentation on the PK301?
Federico Sigot Posted Apr 3, 2012 9:01 PM PST
I'm having the same dot problem on the projection. It's getting worse with each use too. I need to use the projector but not this way looking spots everywhere on the screen, please I need some help to get this problem fixed, I bought from best buy about 2 years and I been using no more than 350 hours. Appreciate your help
Morgan Posted Apr 26, 2012 6:47 PM PST
I had no problems setting up and loaded two power point presentations. I took it to a outside location and used the PP. Now I can't get the PP out of the thing and it does not have the space to load another. The manual xxks and has no information on deleting. How do I get the first PP out of the memory.
ehis Posted Jun 12, 2012 5:35 PM PST
please help me just bought my pk301+ yesterday regrettably i did nt charge for three hrs before use but now i cnt use it for long with the ac after about 1min it shows a 3 blade sign (as a fan) with an exclamation mark in front then goes off what could be wrong pls help me
Bill Posted Sep 23, 2012 10:23 AM PST
I just bought this projector for work purposes.. Is there a way to use this as a tv on occassion? How do you hook cable tv to this device? thx
michael essex Posted Dec 10, 2012 5:55 PM PST
pico projector light is going is going bright red
Susan Posted Jan 29, 2013 12:09 PM PST
Why is the light projecting green?
mark Posted Jul 17, 2013 12:27 PM PST
having issues with the viewing all its showing is pixilations greyscale dots, there is no picture viewing. i have tried to do a reset but it did not work please advise urgently as the projector is not usable in this state.

Many thanks
sean Posted Aug 17, 2013 4:13 PM PST
Green shade for me too, very irritating. Any solutions?
Jojo Posted Sep 12, 2013 5:10 PM PST
I see many questions but no answers: using Macbook pro, how to encode PPT to USB or MicroSD so that Pico 301k is standalone ppt projecter? Either saving it to HD or with removable device?
mike hunt Posted Sep 15, 2013 5:08 PM PST
in case it wasn't clear, the device does NOT work with its usb connection
technogeek Posted Apr 3, 2014 1:59 PM PST
This was a great projector till the white spots appeared. Seems these unit's DMD chip goes bad after about a year or so. I would avoid this projector and go with the PK320 or a different line all together.
Greg Posted Jun 22, 2014 3:27 PM PST
Somehow I set my Pico projector to Chinese or Japanese. Now I'm only seeing the menus in this foreign language with no way to tell how to reset the language to English. Can any body help me find the language setting?
Pierpaolo Posted Aug 28, 2018 2:50 AM PST
After only 250 hours of use, my Optoma PK301 projector had catastrophic damage to much of the display with many of the tiny mirrors stuck on permanently showing white and black pixels in the image.

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