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Mini Review : 3M MPro110 Projector

To say that the 3M MPro110 is tiny is an understatement. This minuscule projector is smaller than anything you may have seen on the market.

To put its size in perspective, it is about twice the thickness of my Nokia 6220 smartphone, weighs only 152g and measures 115mm(l) x 50mm(w) x 22mm (h).

Launched last September, the MPro110 features LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology and has a rated contrast ratio of 80:1, substantially less than traditional projectors and possibly one of its weakest points.

On a brighter side, LCoS guarantees completely silence - no noisy fans here - and up to 10,000 hours of operations.

With this pico projector however, 3M had to strike a very difficult balance between portability, performance and battery life. To keep things simple, the MPro 110 only has two controls, a focus thumb wheel which alters the sharpness of the pictures and the on/off button.

With a native resolution of 640x480 with a 4:3 ratio, there is not much you can fit in but bear in mind that NTSC DVD content has a resolution of 720x480, which means that the MPro 110 comes quite near to DVD quality in theory, although with only 7 lumens worth of brightness to play with, things can get out of hand quickly

Getting it to work was quite easy provided you read the manual first. Bearing in mind that you can get it to work on a battery (even if it is only for around 45 minutes thanks to the built in Lithium Ion battery), the MPro 110 achieves the rather incredible feat of taking both composite-video and VGA inputs.

The best pictures that we could get were in complete darkness and on a white wall. Given its size, don't expect the MPro 110 to match similarly priced traditional projectors; the pictures it produced were fuzzy and blurry.

Colour reproduction was surprisingly good though and we managed to work out that the ideal screen size to distance ratio was 2:1 roughly with a 1m screen from a 2m distance being the best compromise.

3M says that the maximum image size it can project is a 50-inch diagonal which will produce faded out pictures.

We hated the VGA cable that comes with the micro projector because it was so flimsy and we were not the only one to have such issues (ed: we might have been sent the same test model).

The MPro 110 is your best bet if you want to watch a movie on your ceiling (which we did) and you won't be able to type comfortably for an extended period on it. It is unlikely that you will use it in a proper business situation other than projecting an image on a corner of a trade show from your laptop. As for any future MPro projector, 3M needs to sort out its act.

We don't really care if it is slightly bigger, it just needs to work properly. The 3M Pro needs to be much better at displaying pictures, it needs to sort out the VGA cable issue fast. It needs to improve the stability of the item, maybe have a card reader and a wireless option (which would be really, really cool).

The biggest problem with the MPro 110 is its price. At £275, it is not cheap enough to be "merely" a geek's projector and, unfortunately for 3M, there are other manufacturers like Aiptek, Optoma and Cooldevice that have similar if not better products on the market.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.