The successor to the 3M MPro150 and MPro120 pico projectors has been released by 3M, and it’s looking chunky. The MP180 improves on the brightness of is predecessors, upping the lumens to 30. That’s not enough for watching a movie in full daylight, but it does mean you don’t have to dim the lights quite so far.
The trade-off appears to be in size. The MP180 appears to be significantly chubbier, but the old versions were pretty svelte to begin with, so it’s not such a big deal. Compare the above picture to the one I took of the 120:
So there’s definitely a size difference, but they’re both still pocketable, it looks like to me. They’ve improved the speakers as well as the brightness, which is good, because the old speakers were pretty tinny. They’re 800×600, which is fine for analog sources and some photos, but I know we’d all like to see 1280×720 happen sometime soon.
The MP180 costs $399, and has a little brother, the MP160, which costs $349. The difference is that the MP180 has a micro SD slot and interface for navigating on-device media, while the MP160 only has VGA and composite pass-through. Personally, I didn’t find the on-device storage of the MPro150 that handy for movies, but photos and presentations looked nice. They’re shipping in October.
3M has also debuted a new camcorder in the pocket-cam style that has an integrated projector. They call it the Shoot ‘N Share, I call it a little premature. The 15 lumens won’t be enough to display your video to friends, unless you guys really love hanging out in total darkness. And although it records HD video (720p at 60i, the press release says, which makes no sense), it only displays at 640×480 resolution. It also looks a bit bigger than people might like in a pocket projector, though I doubt 3M could make it much smaller. Costs $299.
I’m looking forward to testing these out. Personally, I think pico projectors aren’t quite paying for themselves just yet — but they will soon, and it’s fun to watch them progress. Hopefully we’ll get to take a look at these before they all get released in October.