The £280 MPro120 is 3M's second-generation pico projector. It's a distinct improvement over the MPro110, offering a brighter picture, an LED light source rated at 20,000 hours instead of 10,000, and built-in half-watt speakers.
For those who don't know what a pico projector is, it's a miniature handheld projector that's capable of casting a big image. The key to these projectors is that they use an LED light source that's very energy-efficient. While pico projectors come in different shapes and sizes, most cost around £250, and currently sport resolutions of up to 640x480 pixels.
The MPro120 uses LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) display technology, while others use DLP (digital light processing). These are the same main technologies employed in rear-projection TVs, but the picture is projected on an external wall, instead of the back of a TV screen.
Is that a projector in your pocket?
We like the look and feel of the all-black MPro120, and found it simple to set up and use. Weighing 159g and measuring 114 by 51 by 23mm, it does indeed fit in a pocket (or easily slip into a laptop bag), and comes with a protective sleeve. You can prop the projector up at angle by flipping open the integrated flip stand (it's just a thin piece of plastic), or you can attach the included tripod to the threaded tripod mount on the bottom.
Out of the box, the easiest way to set up the projector is by connecting it to your laptop with the supplied computer connector, or to a portable DVD player with the supplied composite AV cable. The MPro120 also includes a rechargeable battery. Its rated life is 4 hours, but that's at the lower brightness setting, which is really too dim. At the higher brightness setting, we got 2 hours of battery life. Fortunately, it can also work under AC power as well, using the included wall charger.
Using your computer, you can then project a PowerPoint presentation on the wall, and, so long as you don't project the image at too large a size (more than 26 inches or so diagonally), you'll get a passable picture, although this type of projector simply can't compete with full-size projectors, which offer significantly brighter illumination and higher resolutions. Go any bigger and you really need the room to be dark. Even then, you're just not going to get the kind of brightness or sharpness you're used to with your laptop screen or traditional portable projectors.
The MPro120 has two brightness settings: high (12 lumens) and normal (10 lumens). Most people will stick to the high setting unless trying to conserve battery life. Neither setting is terribly bright but we felt okay about the picture in the 24- to 26-inch range. You can go as big as 50 inches, but the trade-off is a more washed-out image. You'll really have to play around with distance and lighting conditions to find a size and image you're comfortable with.