Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Pocket full of Presentation Power

I’ve written about the new generation of micro projectors since they were first announced, seeing in them great potential as a tool for presentations, and a technology which could have great implications for the future of smartphones and other mobile devices. A PR representative of 3M contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I’d like to check out their latest micro-projector for business users, the MPro150. I explained my freelance status but he still offered to send me a review unit.

Seeing and sampling new technology is far different from actually having an opportunity to throughly explore and play with the features of tools like this. I have to say I’ve been duly impressed with the image quality and versatility of a projector just five inches long For real estate professionals who like their gadgets, this could be a useful tool for presentations to small groups, buyers or sellers in any setting where your laptop screen just isn’t big enough.

3M recommends the MPro150 for projecting up to images up to 50 inches wide, measured diagonally, but I found the quality acceptable at larger sizes. In fact, everyone I demonstrated the unit to was dazzled by the quality and size of the images coming out of this pocket-sized projector in a sufficiently darkened room.

The MPro150 uses an ultra bright LED and extremely compact lens to deliver those results. In addition to mini-USB and VGA/AV input ports for connecting it to a computer or external video source. It has 1GB of internal memory, and a microSD card slot for for storing media files. The unit can display MPEG4 video files, JPEGs, PDFs and Microsoft Office files directly from memory, without being connected to a computer, and is also an MP3 player. The package includes all cables, an AC adapter with international adapters, a 1GB microSD card, mini-tripod and two hour lithium ion battery. Suggested retail is $395.

For real estate users, this could be a practical solution for presentations, whether displaying video from a connected source, or from its own internal memory, within limits. One could, for example, use the device for powerpoint presentation, to share large screen versions of JPEG tour images, or to play sample video tours for a small audience.

Video quality is as good as you can expect from an MPEG4 file, at VGA resolution, The larger the projected image the more apparent the limitations of that format. JPEGS, and content from connected devices hold up well, even when displayed larger than the recommended display size.

My camera captures videos as Quicktime movies, so I had to convert them to MPEG4 before I could play them back from internal memory. I saves these from iMovie on my Mac, then used the free file conversion service ZamZar(www.zamzar.com) on my PC. Once converted, I experienced no problems playing the videos from the MPro150’s internal memory and micro SD card.

In fact the only thing I found lacking in the MPro150 was a remote control for use when displaying files stored in memory. The unit does have several slide show settings, but when you want to step viewers through images or a presentation stored internally, it gets a little cumbersome clicking through images with the unit’s scroll wheel. I usually jarred the the projector in the process, and had to manually refocus the image. Of course, that’s not not a problem when driving the device from an external source, with its own remote.

I consider the lack of a remote a minor inconvenience when weighed against all that’s packed into the MPro150. If presentations are regular part of what you do in your pitch for new business, and you canafford this luxury, here’s a big screen projector you can literally slip into your pocket.

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