projectors

3M MP225a Pico Projector Review

A deplorably designed pico projector.

March 25, 2012
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Peak Brightness

We have to redefine our standards of peak brightness for pico projectors. Usually we consider projectors emitting 2000 lumens to be strong, versatile devices that will be helpful just about anywhere. This pico shot out only 33 lumens at its best. Clearly these two numbers are incomparable and could not be considered on the same scale.

Yet, both a pico projector and a regular projector are asked to perform the same job, for the most part. The point of picos is to go with the concept of "good enough". Even if it's very faint, can you see the projection on the wall? Well, we consider that good enough because picos are not intended to be home theaters, nor are they for large classroom presentations. Picos fill a specific niche of intimate presentations and viewing circumstances that really only require the image to be "good enough". We would never recommend a pico to be the hub of your home theater, but we may peg it as appropriate for watching a show on your ceiling at night.

Now, the real question is, does the 3M MP225A have a peak brightness that is "good enough"? Well, we tested this pico in a number of settings with varied content. We felt that very high contrast content in a dark room worked well. The picture quality wasn't great by any standard, but it was a movie, on our ceiling! The novelty of a movie being shown in an unlikely setting was entertaining, but we also felt that medium contrast content would be very hard to discern, even in a dark setting. With the lights on it's not a device that works very well. In a dim setting, with low lights, you could see photos and some pie charts if you were intending to do a presentation.

But you can see that the MP225A trails the pack of pico projectors in the peak brightness chart below. Brightness is going to be one of the most important measures of performance for pico projectors because if we are just going for "good enough" then 90% of that success is just being able to see the image.

Peak Brightness
Peak Brightness Comparison Graph

Tunnel Contrast

The chart below looks like it shows a lot of action, but the scale has been decreased significantly to show much of anything at all. What we read from the data is that, though there is a trend of slight brightening, there is very little change in black level given different amounts of black displayed on the screen.

Tunnel Contrast
Tunnel Contrast Graph
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Uniformity

We test the luminance at nine different points on the screen to see how well the peak brightness is maintained throughout the picture. What we found with the 3M MP225A is pretty disappointing. Some of the corners were more than 50% dimmer than the center. The center was not that bright to begin, if you remember the MP225A was the dimmest pico in our lineup, and if it loses half of this brightness in the corners, it's going to be even harder to watch.

Uniformity
Uniformity Graph

Greyscale Gamma

This gamma graph is too shallow. The ideal slope would be 2.1, which would indicate the correct amount of detail distinction between values along the grayscale from black to white. The slope we have recorded here, 1.87, means that the difference from one value to another is not large enough to show the amount of detail needed to depict a stark picture.

Gray values are used to show the difference between overlapping objects and the rounded edges of images to create the impression of a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface. With less detail in the grayscale, edges will be hard to discern and objects will appear less realistic because they do not have the illusion of three dimensions.

Greyscale Gamma
Greyscale Gamma Graph
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Tour & Design
  3. Blacks & Whites
  4. Color Accuracy
  5. Motion
  6. Viewing Effects
  7. Calibration
  8. Connectivity & Media
  9. Power, Noise & Heat
  10. Optoma Pico PK320 Comparison
  11. Aiptek PocketCinema V50 Comparison
  12. AAXA Technologies P4 Comparison
  13. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

What's Your Take?

All Comments