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Optoma Pico review

Jim Martin
30 Jan 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
230
inc VAT

Let's put on a show right here! Interesting concept, but nobody's quite nailed it yet.

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Specifications

Last month we tested Aiptek's Pocket Cinema, a palm sized projector with a built-in media player, but weren't impressed with its image quality.

We hoped for better from Optoma's new Pico. Both projectors are roughly the size of a mobile phone and can throw up to a 50 inch image; the Optoma has the higher brightness, at 20 lumens. That's only about a quarter of the brightness of the average home cinema projector, but still potentially adequate for a portable picture show.

Optoma has chosen DLP technology for the Pico, while Aiptek uses LCoS. DLP has the disadvantage of the 'rainbow' effect, which is caused by the fast cycling between red, green and blue light to make full colour images. The Pico's 320x240 resolution is also lower than the Aiptek's 640x480. And the Pico doesn't have a media player built in, so you'll have to connect another gadget such as a mobile phone, digital camera or camcorder to serve up video. The bundled cable has a composite video input, but you can buy additional cables for iPods for £29.

There are just two controls: a power switch and a focus wheel. The former has two positions, for half and full brightness. At full brightness, each of the two included batteries will last around an hour, but this doubles at the lower setting. Batteries can be charged using the supplied mains adapter or via USB.

Despite its lower resolution, the Pico produced almost as much apparent detail as the Aiptek. At full brightness, a 50 inch image was brighter than the Pocket Cinema's at the same size. This means it's possible to watch videos in a dimly lit room, rather than total darkness. Colours were more realistic, and although skin tones tended to be overly red, it wasn't uncomfortable to watch an hour-long TV show on the Pico.

Unlike Aiptek, Optoma doesn't include a mini tripod, and the Pico's tripod mount is non-standard. We were also disappointed by the poor volume of the built-in speaker and the lack of a headphone socket. Still, for all the Pico's failings, it costs around £70 less than its rival. Even so, unless you travel a lot and really want a tiny projector for entertainment in the evenings, ordinary projectors are still a better bet.

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