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Review: MicroVision SHOWWX+ HDMI Laser Pico Projector

by Steven Williamson on 1 February 2012, 13:34 3.0

Tags: MicroVision

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Great quality at distances of 4ft

Setup, as you'd expect from any pocket-sized device, is super simple. The rechargeable 1800mAh Lithium Ion battery takes approximately three hours to charge, though you can use the projector while plugged into the wall.

When it’s not connected to any other device, the menu is the default projected image for the SHOWWX+, which projects at up to 100 inches on your chosen surface; though image size depends entirely on how far you place the projector from the display area.

The projector emits an incredibly bright beam (15 lumens) via its green, red and blue lasers and displays a crisp image of the menu screen that shows the text with great clarity even at distances of 8ft plus.

Using the arrow buttons on the side of the projector you can flick quickly through the modes to change a variety of settings. In colour mode, the three options allow you to invert the colours, which is useful if you’re planning on projecting a presentation with black text on white backgrounds, or alternatively you can opt for ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Standard’ colours, with the latter displaying a greyscale image.

There are three levels of brightness available, which may need to be adjusted if you’re planning on watching videos or looking at pictures in a variety of lighting conditions, and there’s the ability to change the aspect ratio from widescreen to normal to zoom.

If the picture does get fuzzy, something that we’ve not experienced due to the auto focus option, you can also use the image alignment feature to restore its sharpness.

Apart from occasionally having to switch between the three brightness levels, the menu is going to be pretty much redundant for most people as the projector does mirror the image you’re displaying without needing to refocus. But if you do need to access it quickly and make some swift adjustments, the arrow buttons on the side act as hot keys and allow you to change settings on the fly.

Testing the projector out with an iPad 2, we used Apple’s video application to watch Avatar on a clear white wall. Though you definitely lose some of the sharpness and clarity of the picture, due to the maximum resolution of 848 x 480, it doesn’t significantly affect viewing at short to average distances (small to medium screen size).

With the projector about 3ft from the wall it displays an impressively colourful and sharp image measuring approximately 24 inches diagonally. From a distance of about 9ft you reach the optimal suggested image size of approximately 100 inches diagonally. At this range, Avatar was quite grainy, though still watchable with no lights on and brightness set to full.

For watching movies, the movie looks superb at no more than 4ft away from the surface, projecting an image approximately 30-40 inches diagonally. While viewing photos and videos on other devices the same applies, whether you’re using a HDMI-equipped camcorder, or an iPhone 4S, clarity is excellent at no more than 4ft, but loses some of its sharpness at longer distances.

The reduced quality is certainly no replacement for watching a movie on a large HDTV, but its portability more than makes up for its lack of sparkle, and at anything less than a 60in screen size it's more than adequate for general viewing.