Optoma Pico PK101 review

Jim Martin
25 Feb 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT



320x240 resolution, 20 ANSI lumens, 15x50x103mm, 115g

We were expecting a lot from Optomo's Pico PK101 after being left unimpressed by Aiptek's Pocket Cinema V10.

The two projectors are remarkably similar, both being roughly the size of a large mobile phone, and are able to show images up to between 50in and 60in. However, while the Pocket Cinema can muster only 10 lumens, the Pico is rated at 20. This may not sound much, but bear in mind that perceived brightness is roughly logarithmic, so a 1,000-lumen home cinema projector seems only around four times brighter.

The underlying technologies that they use are, however, different. Optoma has chosen DLP for the Pico, while Aiptek uses liquid crystal on silicon. Unfortunately, DLP suffers from a 'rainbow' effect, which is caused by its fast cycling between red, green and blue to make full colour images. The Pico also lags behind in the resolution stakes, with only 320x240 pixels compared to the Pocket Cinema's 640x480.

The Pico doesn't have a built-in media player either, so you can only play videos or photo slideshows by connecting another device, such as a mobile phone, iPod, digital camera or camcorder. Optoma bundles a composite video adaptor, but you'll have to buy a cable for any device that doesn't have this output.

The good news is that this projector is foolproof to set up. 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 one of the two bundled batteries will last for around an hour, but this doubles at the lower setting. You can charge a battery by connecting the Pico to a powered USB port, or using the included mains adaptor.

Surprisingly, despite its lower resolution, the Pico produced better image quality than the Pocket Cinema, with at least as much apparent detail. At full brightness, the Optoma's 50in image was noticeably brighter, too. This means that it's possible to watch videos in a dimly lit room, without the need to switch the lights off completely. Colours were better saturated and more realistic too, although skin tones tended to be overly red. It was good enough for us to enjoy an TV programme on the Pico, though.

As with the Pocket Cinema, the PK101 has no keystone correction, so you need to place it square-on to your screen. This isn't always easy, not least because it doesn't come with a mini-tripod, though there's an adaptor supplied to mount it on any camera tripod. We were also disappointed by the low maximum volume of the built-in speaker.

For all the Pico's failings, it costs around £65 less than its rival and has better image quality. However, unless you need a pocketable projector for evening entertainment, full-size models are far more practical and better value.




Projector technologyDLP
Lamp brightness20 ANSI lumens
Lamp life20,000
Lamp life in economy mode20,000
Contrast ratio1,000:1


Native resolution320x240
Aspect ratio4:3
Other aspect ratiosnone
Max diagonal at 7ft60in
Throw ratio0.6:1
Projection distance0.25m to 2.6m
Mirror imageno
Invert imageno
HD Readyno
Special view modesnone


VGA inputno
DVI inputNo
Sound inputsphono stereo
Composite inputyes
S-video inputno
HDMI inputno
Component inputno
PAL supportyes
SECAM supportyes
NTSC supportyes
Audio outputnone
Video outputnone
Others inputs/outputsnone


Noise (in normal use)0dB(A)
Internal speakersyes (0.5W mono)
Extraspower supply, USB cable, video/audio cable
Remote special featuresN/A
Power consumption standbyN/A
Power consumption onN/A


Lamp cost (inc VAT)N/A
Lamp supplierN/A
Lamp cost per hour of useN/A
Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)N/A

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