Thursday, March 15, 2012

Optoma ML300 Pico Projector Review

I love the ever improving world of technology, the Optima ML300 is an excellent example of how far we have come. I remember the mammoth sized CRT projectors. Now the ML300 is not much bigger than your hand. But it is not just the size that it has going for it. There are some great features and specs.
It's features and specs include:
-No laptop required: Present directly from internal memory, microSD card or USB flash drives
-Wireless presentation with optional USB dongleDLP Pico imaging technology
-LED light source produces excellent color while lasting over 20,000 hours (that’s four hours of use every day for over 13 years)
-Directly display your PC’s desktop through the provided USB cable for a quick, easy connectionVGA and HDMI inputs - Connect to laptops, tablets (such as iPads), Blu-ray players and gaming
-Display TechnologyDLP®
-ResolutionNative WXGA (1280 x 800)
-Maximum ResolutionWXGA (1280 x 800) through VGA; HD (1080p) through HDMI
-Brightness: 300 ANSI Lumens
-Contrast Ratio:3000:1 (Full On/Full Off)
-Light Source Life and Type: 20,000 hours, LED
-Throw Ratio: 1.5:1 (Distance/Width)
-Image Size: (Diagonal)17" to 160" (43.2 to 406cm)
-Projection Distance: 22" to 203" (56 to 516cm)
-Aspect Ratio: 16:10 Native; 16:9 and 4:3 compatible
-Offset: 100% of image is above center line of lens when upright
-3D Compatibility: DLPLink 3D capable; Compatible with 3D content at XGA (1024 x 768) and 120Hz through the VGA port; Not Optoma 3D-XL compatible
-Keystone Correction: Auto Vertical Keystone with manual override +/-40 deg
-Displayable Colors: 100% NTSC Color Gamut
-Audio: 2-Watt Speaker
-Computer Compatibility: WXGA, XGA, SVGA, VGA, VESA, PC and Macintosh Compatible
-Video Input Compatibility: HDTV (720p, 1080i/p), EDTV (480p), SDTV (480i), NTSC, PAL
-Memory: 2GB Internal; microSD slot supports up to 32GB SDHC
-Video File Compatibility: H.264 (AVI, MOV, MP4, 3GP), MPEG4 (AVI), Xvid (AVI), MJPEG (AVI)
-Office Viewer Compatibility: Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel, .txt, Adobe pdf
-Image File Compatibility: JPEG, BMP
-Audio File Compatibility: AAC, MP3, PCM, ADPCM, WMA
-WiFi Compatible with Optoma USB Wireless Dongle
-User Controls:Direct Access On-Screen GUI in 15 Languages
-Remote Control: Fully Featured IR Remote
-Projection Method: Front, Rear, Upright, Inverted
-I/O Connectors: Mini HDMI, microSD Slot, VGA-In, 2.5mm AV Input (Composite Video and Stereo Audio-In), Micro USB, USB, 3.5mm Audio-Out, DC Input
-Weight: 1.4 lbs (635g)
-Dimensions (W x H x D): 7.2" x 1.8" x 4.4" (184 x 45.0 x 112mm)
-Operating Temperature: 41° to 95°F (5° to 35°C) at sea level and 80% max humidity
-Power Supply Input: 100-240V ~ 50-60Hz, 2.0A Output: 19V ~ DC, 4.74A
-Power Consumption: 90W max (Bright mode with Multimedia function)
-Noise Level: 36 dB
-Standard Accessories: Remote Control, Battery for Remote, VGA Cable, Type A to micro USB Cable, AV Cable (RCA to 2.5mm), Power Adapter, Carrying Case, Quick Start Card, Warranty Card
-Optional Accessories: iPad®/iPod®/iPhone® Apple Connection Kit, mini HDMI Cable Kit, Mini HDMI to Micro HDMI Cable, VGA to Component Cable, USB Wireless Dongle, VGA Wireless Dongle, 40" and 50" Matte White Mini Pull-Up Screens
-Warranty: 1-Year Limited Parts and Labor
-UPC: 796435 41 720 8
The Optoma ML300 came in the traditional color printed box that had pictures and info on the product. Opening the box showed a well protected projector. The projector was in a padded case which was also protected in plastic bubble wrap. Included with the projector in the padded fabric case were the remote control, manuals, and necessary cables such as video and power cables. While there is an HDMI input, it is mini HDMI. So if you think you may use the Optoma ML300 for watching a blu-ray player or other HDMI device, you will need the optional mini HDMI to HDMI cable.
The actual projector is quite small. It is on the large size when it comes to pico projectors, and Optoma does not have it listed among their pico projectors. But it is still not much bigger than your hand. The larger size when compared to other pico projectors does give you more space for more power under the hood. This comes in the form of 300 lumens of light output.
The projector casing is typical black plastic. The front has the lens, focus ring, and vents. The left side includes the VGA, mini HDMI, micro USB and AV-in connections, while the back holds the power button, microSD card slot, power cable connection port, internal speaker and Audio Out, and USB for Wireless Display. On the top are the control buttons.
The quality and fit and finish was very good. The plastic case felt solidly attached to the body. The same felt true of the buttons, and connectors. The inside felt solidly built. Pressing buttons and attaching cables did not feel to have any give. The Optoma ML300 overall had fairly good heft to it as well.
Overall, I was impressed with the look and feel of the ML300. And I was surprised by the specs with the amount of performance in such a small package. But specs don't mean much if it does throw a great picture. How was the true performance? Let's find out...
I was impressed with the light output from such a small projector. I actually was able to get a viewable image at 100". Colors looked fairly well saturated, with good uniformity. The colors were also sufficiently accurate as well. Light output appeared even from edge to edge. And with the built-in card reader and internal memory, you can now store your presentations in the projector. No more need for a laptop. It's as simple as pull out the projector, plug it in, and turn it on! Especially with the built-in viewer for Microsoft Office documents. The ability to connect to a large list of devices that includes tablets and smartphones is mind blowing. And did I mention it can also project in 3D?!
Before there were projectors designed for home theater there were just business projectors. And some of these projectors made their way into homes on the weekends for home theater use. While they did not have great shadow detail, and also suffered in some areas such as digital noise, it still threw a huge picture on the wall. The Optoma ML300 somewhat falls into that similar limitation, and had similar performance in that regards. It also does not have a standard HDMI input, or component inputs. You will need a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter to connect to HDMI. And while you can watch blu-ray on it, the native resolution is WXGA.

So the Optoma ML300 is a good example of product design and limitations with designs. It is not a home theater projector, but it can project video. It also has some limitations as a business projector. It is not nearly as bright as most of the projectors on the market. And while the image looked good and was in focus, it was not extremely crisp. But for smaller sizes such as 42", it was sufficiently bright and more crisp. And that also isn't to say that it did not produce a good looking crisp image. It just did not produce the same image as many business projectors on the market.
But now look at the size! Yes it has some design limitations based on its small size. You will want a fairly dark room, and to not project too big of an image. At the same time, you can still use it to watch a movie on your wall. And it is so small! I would say it is probably around 1/3 the size of most business projectors.
Thanks to the Optoma ML300 portability, presentations just became a lot easier! It even used LED based lighting, so no expensive bulb to replace. And they really hit the mark in terms of including some great features into a product that needs nothing else. Bye bye laptop. All you need is the projector thanks to the built-in memory and card slot, and document viewer. It is easily carried in a small bag or briefcase. And thanks to the mini HDMI connection, all you need is the adapter. Then it is another great weekend warrior for connection to your blu-ray, dvd, or cable box to watch that movie or game on the wall. And better yet, with the use of an LED bulb, there is no potential need to worry about explaining to the boss how the bulb blew out while watching it at home.
All in all, there is so much to like about the Optoma ML300. It is a great little projector that performed well, and has a long list of features. And these are features that will actually be used and also increase its portability. Infact, based on it's design, features, quality, and performance as a portable projector, it has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at