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Pocket-sized pico projectors for presentations on the go

Pico projectors are the smallest type of portable digital projectors. They are tiny enough to fit into a pocket and are relatively inexpensive. They won't light up a large space, but these tiny LED projectors are perfect for one-on-one or small-group presentations.

Experts say the Optoma PK320 (Est. $370) is one of the best pico projectors for the traveling businessperson. It earns praise for its portability, robust connectivity, good performance and ease of use. The PK320 can be powered via an AC adapter or the included rechargeable battery. While the rechargeable battery speaks heavily to the projector's portability, there's one caveat: With a 100-lumen rating, the PK320 is one of the brightest picos available, and reviews say it comes reasonably close to delivering on this claim when the projector is running on AC power. If you're using battery power, however, experts say to expect brightness to be much less -- between 25 to 40 lumens.

Even so, reviewers say that performance is solid overall. Like many pico projectors, the Optoma PK320 sports WVGA native resolution (854 pixels by 480 pixels). Allan Abbott, who tests the PK320 for ProjectorCentral.com, says "both data and video are very good as long as image size is kept under 40 inches." PC World's Yardena Arar says image quality, while on battery power, is good, as long as you keep image size under a few feet (diagonally). While it's a DLP-based projector, experts say rainbow artifacts are minimal. PCMag.com's Tony Hoffman notes a slight color tinting issue during tests.

The PK320 offers a host of connectivity options, including a mini-HDMI port. No cable is included for HDMI connectivity, however.

The Optoma PK320 is one of the largest pico projectors available, but it's still small enough to fit into a pocket. It can read common file formats -- Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as PDF -- uploaded to its 2 GB of internal memory or from an external microSD card. Typical for many pico projectors, its 20,000-hour LED light source is rated to last the life of the projector.

The PK320 is one of the more expensive pico projectors available, but it's also one of the few to offer both a claimed 100-lumen rating and an HDMI digital input. It earns a favorable review at ProjectorCentral.com, a Hot Product award at ProjectorReviews.com, and 4 stars out of 5 at PC World. One concern is that user reviews are not particularly good. Most reviewers are happy, but some say they received projectors that were defective or that failed after some time. However, there are still too few user reviews to offset the critical acclaim that the PK320 has received.

If the PK320 is a bit out of your price range, consider the AAXA P4-X (Est. $290) . This pico projector offers many of the core features of the PK320, but costs less. It's rated at 95 lumens, but experts say its real-world brightness falls a little short of that. It also includes a rechargeable battery though, once again, using it instead of AC power takes brightness performance down a few pegs.

Data image quality ranges from average to good, and video quality is a tad better. Rainbow artifacts are minimal as well. It sports a mini-HDMI input but no HDMI cable. However, all other connectivity cables are included, including a mini USB cable that lets the projector read the contents of a USB thumb drive. Like the PK320, you can also read files uploaded to the 2 GB of internal memory, or from a microSD card. The projector also has its own media player.

So what's the catch? One of the biggest drawbacks to the P4-X: It can't read Microsoft Office files (PowerPoint, Excel, Word) directly without being tethered to a computer. This oversight may be a deal-breaker for those interested in the maximum portability. An alternate version, the AAXA P4, does have the ability to work with Microsoft files directly, but loses the HDMI port. No matter, however, as the P4 looks to be discontinued and availability is very tight.

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Optoma PK320 WVGA 100 Lumen DLP LED Pico Pocket Projector with HDMI and Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
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New: $399.00 $359.00   
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