Thursday, June 2, 2011

Optoma PK301 Pico Projector Review

The world of displays has come along way. In the business world, if you wanted to show a presentation to clients, you used a huge CRT projector. Then things started to get smaller. Projectors started to get smaller and smaller. Now, for business presentations, the small pico projectors are about as small as a Cracker Jacks box, and easily fit into your briefcase or laptop bag. Up for review is the Optoma PK301.

The Optoma PK301 is not just for the business user. Just how salesman used their business projectors for presentations during the week, the also took them home and used them to watch a movie on the wall on the weekends. The Optoma PK301 is also great for entertainment use, and not just for the business user. As many guys will take their PS3 or XBox 360 to their buddies house to play games? Now it is that much easier. Instead of bringing over their gaming system and having to hook it up to the TV, now it is much easier. With the Optoma PK301, all you need is your source material, such as a PS3 or Blu-Ray player, a couple of empty power outlets, and an empty wall to project onto.

It's features and specs include:

Projection Type DLP®
Resolution Native WVGA (854 x 480)
Maximum Resolution WXGA (1280 x 800) through VGA adapter; HD (1080i) through HDMI
Brightness 50 ANSI lumens Bright mode (with AC power adapter or optional extended power battery pack); 20 ANSI lumens STD mode
Contrast Ratio 2000:1 (Full On/Full Off)
Light Source LED (RGB); Estimated life of over 20,000 hours
Throw Ratio 1.8:1 (Distance/Width)
Projection Distance 8” to 189”
Image Size (Diagonal) 5” to 120” (16:9 native)
Aspect Ratio 16:9 native; 4:3 compatible
Battery (Standard) Li-ion Rechargeable (3.7V, 1410mAh)
Battery Life (Standard) Up to 1 hour in 20 lumen mode (standard); Over 5 hours (optional extended power battery pack)
Displayable Colors 100% NTSC Color Gamut
Audio One 0.5-Watt Speaker, Headphone-Out
Computer Compatibility WXGA, XGA, SVGA, VGA, VESA, PC and Macintosh Compatible with included VGA adapter
Video Input Compatibility NTSC, PAL, SDTV (480i), EDTV (480p), HDTV (720p, 1080i)
Memory 28 MB internal; microSD slot supports up to 16 GB SDHC
Video File Compatibility AVI, MOV, MP4, 3GP (Common video formats are converted using Optoma Pico Video Encoder*)
Image File Compatibility JPEG, BMP (PowerPoint files are converted using Optoma Pico Video Encoder*)
I/O Connectors 24-pin Universal Port, 2.5mm jack AV Input (Composite Video and Stereo Audio-In), Micro USB, Mini HDMI, microSD socket, 3.5 mm Audio-Out jack, DC Input jack
Weight 8 oz (227g) with standard battery
Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.7” x 1.2” x 2.7”; (120.1 x 29.7 x 69.8mm)
Warranty 1 Year Limited Parts and Labor, 90 Days on Battery
Standard Accessories Power Adapter, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, Male USB Cable, Standard A/V Cable (RCA to Mini-Jack), Universal to VGA Cable, Bag
Optional Accessories iPod Kit with A/V Connector, Universal to Component Cable, Universal to Female USB Cable, Additional Standard Battery, Extended Power Battery Pack, Mini HDMI to HDMI Cable,Remote Control

Quality appears to be very good. The Optoma PK301 was packaged very well. Accessories include power adapter w/AC plug, VGA cable, USB male cable, bettery, and AV cable. Quality of construction, and fit and finish appear very good. I'm in awe that a projector can be this small. And based on the specs, that it can throw such a big picture, and as bright as it is. Well, let's see how good it really is.

Ease of use is really good. While on owners manual is provided, it really was simple to go into the menus and make any neccessary adjustments. The menus include sections for:

Brightness Modes- Bright, Movie (enhanced color), Standard, and Economy.
Projection Modes- front desktop, rear desktop, front inverted, and rear inverted.
Aspect Ratios- 4x3, 16x9, and auto.
Contrast- Allows adjustment to contrast.
H. Position- adjusts the horizontal position.
V. Position- adjusts the vertical position.
Phase- adjusts the phase to match that of the computer's graphics card.
Frequency- adjusts the timing to that of the graphics card.
Source- VGA, Composite, Component, HDMI, microSD, USB, and internal memory.
Material- Photos, presentation, and video.

Making some adjustments and tweaks in the menus did improve thte picture. But even at default out of the box settings, the image was good. You could be happy with the image, and not feel the need to make any adjustments in the menu. But if you do want to try, they are there.

I was surprised at the quality out of such a little package. Saturation was good. And while the image was a bit soft, it was sharp enough. Both motion picture and animation looked good. It reminded me of the quality of entry level projectors several years ago. That may not sound like much of a complement, but they did have good images. And a good image coming out of a size this small........WOW!

I got an image 47" wide from 92" away. Color uniformity was good, and the screen appeared evenly lit. Contrast again was good. With the lumen rating, I was not expecting much. With the lights off, the 47" picture looked good. And it was bright enough to be enjoyable. Turning the lights on really did washout the image. It was viewable, but barely. But the fact was still viewable! And with only 50 lumens! It even worked well up to my 100" fixed mount Elite Screens EZFrame screen. But while it worked well in a dark room, the larger the image, the more washed out it will look in a well lit room.

I was surprised at the preformance of this little Optoma Pico projector. It is built well, with great specs, and it all came together to give a good looking picture. I was not expecting a picture this good out of such a little package. And one of the best things is it even uses LED for lighting, so no need to replace expensive bulbs. Based on it's features, quality, and performance, the Optoma PK301 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. At an MSRP of $399.99, it is a real bargain. And the iPod Connection Kit is a perfect accessory for it at only $39.95. Now you can watch movies on the go in a big way. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at