Review: 3M MP220 Pico Projector

At a Glance
  • 3M MP220 Pico Projector

    PCWorld Rating

    The 3M MP220 delivers high-resolution images at high brightness on battery power.

Weighing nearly 15 ounces, the brick-shaped 3M MP220 is bulky for a pico projector—in fact, it's more than twice as heavy as many competitors. And at $446 on Amazon (as of October 29), it's pricey, too.

But it also boasts the highest native resolution of the four projectors we looked at in our latest roundup—1024 by 600 pixels—and it can accept video sources with resolution of up to 1440 by 900. This means you’ll be less likely to have to reduce the screen display of a laptop to use it.

In fact, you might not need to connect it to a laptop at all: This projector's built-in Android software and 1GB of on-board memory (expandable via a MicroSD card slot) allow it to store and render documents and media files all on its own. It’s a self-contained presentation system.

Charging the MP220's lithium-polymer battery takes several hours; 3M says it will run for 2 hours on a single charge. When you turn it on (using a button on the right edge), the Android-based interface fires up after a few moments; you then navigate using a tiny touchpad flanked by the standard Android hardware buttons (home, menu, and return) and a search button on the top side of the projector.

The company rates the unit's brightness on battery power as 65 lumens, which is pretty much the new (and improved) normal for pico projectors on battery power. Unlike many competitors, however, which tout higher brightness ratings when their projectors are running on a wall outlet, 3M doesn’t provide a rating for when the MP220 is connected to its included AC power adapter.

In my tests in a well-lit room, the MP220 cast sharp, bright, 36-inch-diagonal images on a wall from 5 to 6 feet away; 3M says the device can throw images up to 75 inches diagonal, but I wasn't able to test this. Audio from the two 0.75-watt stereo speakers was underwhelming, but that’s typical for this class of projector. The unit has an audio output if you'd like to connect more powerful speakers (or headphones).

The MP220 can handle VGA, RCA, and Apple devices as video sources via an AV input on its right edge. Unfortunately, you’ll need to pay extra for the cables to take advantage of it. In fact, the only cable that comes with the MP220 is a USB cable that connects to its Mini-USB port, and you use it only to transfer files from a computer, not to display them. On top of that, 3M charges extra for accessories that some of its competitors bundle with their products, such as a remote control and a tripod.

The MP220 supports MPEG-4, H.264, and MOV video; GIF‚ PNG‚ BMP‚ and JPG still-image files; AAC and MP3 audio; and, via the included Documents to Go app, DOC‚ PPT‚ XLS‚ TXT‚ and PDF files. It comes with a couple of other apps, including games, though the small touchpad doesn't invite usage of the MP220 with gaming devices. And given the high-resolution specs, we were surprised to discover that this projector doesn’t support HDMI.

The 3M MP220 looks and feels solid. It clearly targets business users who can expense not just the unit's high price, but also the cost of the accessories that render it more usable. Its unusually high resolution should add to the corporate appeal. But if you don't need the extra high-res support, you might want to look at less-expensive DLP options.

Note: This review is part of a four-product roundup. For more, return to the introduction, or click the links below to read our other reviews.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The 3M MP220 delivers high-resolution images at high brightness on battery power.

    Pros

    • High brightness, even on battery power
    • High resolution
    • Integrated storage, Android OS, and apps

    Cons

    • Expensive and heavy for a pico projector
    • Remote and cables for video sources cost extra
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