Called pocket projectors by some and micro-portable or mini projectors by others, this class of projector splits the size, cost and portability differences between tiny pico projectors and full-size portable digital projectors.
Once they've gotten their hands on one, users will quickly understand why reviewers have made the BenQ Joybee GP1 mini projector (*Est. $380) a top choice in this class for over a year. While bigger and heavier than a pico projector, the GP1's still relatively meager 1.4 pounds is a pleasure to travel with. Those who want to travel light will also appreciate this projector's ability to display a wide variety of audio, video and data files from a USB drive without the need for a connected laptop.
The 100-lumen Joybee GP1 outshines most pico projectors but falls well short of the brightness that full-size portable digital projectors can deliver. However, experts say that what's seen on the screen belies what's seen on the spec sheet -- though, as always, expectations still need to be reasonable.
Certainly, you can't expect the GP1 to deliver image quality rivaling larger, more expensive projectors, but it does produce bright, sharp images for small presentations. Art Feierman of ProjectorReviews.com is surprised by the performance of the GP1, which he admits he almost didn't take the time to review because he thought it was a gadget that would only be appreciated by technogeeks. That impression is put to rest by Feierman's testing, which shows that the GP1 can project a nice 60-inch image, even in a room with moderate ambient light. That and other factors lead ProjectorReviews.com to give the GP1 a Hot Product award.
Most say that colors are vivid -- though perhaps too much so, since ProjectorReviews.com complains that they are oversaturated and not as accurate as they could be. For a small and lightweight projector, the required power supply brick seems both large and heavy. Built-in sound isn't the greatest, but is at least as good as what's found in typical laptops. One report we saw complains that audio support for video files played back from a thumb drive could be broader. Ease of use is generally good, though some say that the controls on the projector itself could be more responsive.
If you want a micro-projector that's three times brighter than the GP1 and that displays Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel files without connecting to a computer, you might want to investigate the 1.7-pound LG HX301G microportable projector (*Est. $560) . Price, however, is an obvious drawback.
We've yet to see any professional or very many user reviews for the HX301G, but ProjectorCentral.com reviews its almost-identical predecessor, the LG HX300G, and it gives it a highly rated award. Reviewer Bill Livolsi says the projector he reviews should work well for small group presentations, displaying a 40- to 50-inch diagonal image of PowerPoint-type materials in a room with some ambient light. He cautions, however, not to expect great contrast. He also raises red flags on the projector's fixed-focus lens, which means image size is completely defined by how close the projector is to the screen. The heft of the power brick and other accessories add up quickly -- and that comes in for some criticism as well.