3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly EvolvedS

Pico projectors were all the rage when they were in development, but as the first wave of products hit, so did a reality-induced malaise: They weren't that great. Fortunately, 3M's MPro120 goes far to outshine the original MPro110.

Price

$350, just like its predecessor.

Verdict

What a difference 10 months make.

While the 12-lumen projector isn't noticeably brighter, the throw is substantially tighter, so at the same distance you get about 25% more picture. In terms of use, I could comfortably watch a screen of about 32 inches on the 120 (as opposed to the 110's 20 inches) and could get nearly 50 inches out of it in a very dark room before the picture just got too blurry to enjoy. A 32-inch screen size may not be great shakes in the age of $1000 50-inch plasmas, but in a dorm room or other close quarters, it sure beats a laptop.

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The MPro120 is a bit larger than the 110, owing not just to better optics, but to a larger battery—with up to four hours of juice, rather than just one—and built-in stereo speakers. (The 110 is really just a monitor.) The speakers are loud, and not as tinny as one would expect. It won't give you the full butt-shaking DTS treatment, but I was surprised when I started a video, left the room, and heard everything clearly, 20 feet away through a doorway. As you can see from the slides, the video handled the Blu-ray of Generation Kill surprisingly well via composite output, and I wasn't even vexed by the 480x640 resolution. Given what I was trying to pull off, it looked good.

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly EvolvedS

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly EvolvedS

Connections & Accessories

• VGA adapter for laptops
• Composite adapter for AV sources
• Female-to-male RCA converters so any video output kit for your phone, iPod or camera will work
• Small Gorilla Pod-style tripod
• Built-in flip-down stand for just a bit of lift

When I reviewed the MPro110, I bitched that it was pretty flimsy too. Not so with the MPro120. It's sturdy, has nice firm buttons for volume and brightness, and has a focus dial on its face that stays where you put it. The MPro110 and MPro120 are so different despite their naming, my theory is that 3M shot the guy who built the 110 and hired his arch-nemesis to build the new one.

Does this mean you should buy a pico projector? If you have $350 to spend and find yourself in situations where a very portable 32" monitor that requires relative darkness would come in handy, go for it. It's still not good enough for corporate presentations, and it's still not a true theater-on-the-go. My thought is, if it got this much better in just 10 months, why not wait another 10 months for even more improvements—and perhaps a tiny cost drop? [Product Page]

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly Evolved

Vast improvements in build quality and image size, compared to predecessor

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly Evolved

New features such as stereo speakers, plus included tripod, make it a more self-contained theater

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly Evolved

Cost didn't go down from last version

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly Evolved

As improved as it is, the video experience could be much better

3M MPro120 Pico Projector Review: Highly Evolved

This is still a very niche product