I give a lot
of presentations that require the use of a projector to
either display a PowerPoint deck or demo something using
my netbook computer. Most of the places I go have a
projector I can borrow, but I always worry it wont
be there when I show up, the bulb will blow, there will
be missing cables, etc.
Years ago, I
tried to have a spare projector just in case.
But they are pretty expensive (so I borrowed) and bulky
(so they were a pain to schlep around.)
came across something that turned things around for me
the Optoma PK201 Pico Pocket Projector. This
amazing device is hardly bigger than my BlackBerry
smartphone! It has its drawbacks, but does quite an
amazing job. First, some background on how I ended up as
a proud owner of one.
Been there, didnt do that
I first heard of the Optoma line of Pico projectors a few
years ago. Although they looked interesting, they had no
way to be used as an output device for a computer. You
had to export information (photos, video, and
presentations) to the projectors memory and then
use it stand-alone to display whatever you had
downloaded. That was too limiting for me and I
July 8th, 2011, Amazon.ca sent me an email with the
subject; Amazon.ca: Bestselling Video Projectors from
Optoma. I clicked the link for the Optoma PK201
Pico Pocket Projector. The first thing that caught
my eye was they had it on for $255.87, 56% off their
normal price. As I started reading the specs, I started
getting very interested! Two days later, it was delivered
to my door.
With dimensions of 2.4 x 0.7 x 4.6 and
a weight of 5.6 oz., you might be forgiven for thinking
this projector cant do much. But you would be
wrong. The PK201 is a powerhouse. For input, there is a
VGA port that allows up to 1280x800 resolution. A
mini-HDMI port handles 720p or 1080i resolution. An
optional iPod kit allows you to plug in an iPod and
display photos or videos through the projector.
Tiny projector packs a big punch
The display technology in
the PK201 is DLP, which stands for Digital Light
Processing. DLP was invented in 1987 by Texas
Instruments. The image is created by
microscopically small mirrors. Wikipedia has an
article that talks about this amazing technology
The PK201 uses LED as the
light source. While non-replaceable, the LED is
rated for 20,000 hours which is to me
beyond the useful life of the device
itself. At 20 ANSI lumens, the PK201 is not super
bright, but I find that even under normal room
light, I can project a modestly-sized image of
maybe 30 that is plenty bright. In a
dimly-lit room, the full 66 image is quite
The projector can
display an image from 5 up to 66
diagonally. Since it does not have a zoom on the
output, you have to move the projector forwards
or backwards (10 to 126) from the
screen to get the size you want. There is a small
wheel that operates easily to adjust the focus.
image produced by the PK201 is gorgeous! It is sharp,
with rich, saturated colours. When playing a video, there
is no ghosting at all. I have absolutely no complaints
about the quality of projection. DLP is a fantastic
technology for projectors and even a tiny device like the
PK201 performs like a champ.
26" image plenty bright in moderately-lit room
The PK201 has a
replaceable 1410 mAh Li-ion battery that can run
the projector for up to an hour on a full charge.
It can be run indefinitely on the included AC
adapter. It is worth noting that the battery does
not charge if the projector is turned on. You can
also charge the battery by plugging the included
USB cord into a computer. However, the PK201 does
not operate as a projector as long as the USB
cable is connected.
sound, there is a built in 0.5 watt speaker as
well as an audio-out port that accepts standard
computer speaker jacks or headphones.
storage on the PK201 is anemic at 28MB. But there
is a micro-SD card slot that takes cards up to
bottom of the PK201 sports a standard tripod
socket. Pair this little item with a mini-tripod
you can find at any camera store and you have an
excellent way of propping it up while you use it
as a projector.
that come in the box are the AC adapter, the VGA cable, a
USB cable, and an RCA-to-mini-jack A/V cable. An HDMI
cable is not included. While not rare, HDMI cables that
have one end the standard size and the other end the
required mini HDMI tend to cost a little more. I bought a
10 foot one for under $20.
Media to the projector
If you want, rather than using the projector with a live
connection to a PC or DVD player, you can download media
files and project them from the memory on the projector.
comes with MediaConverter 3.0 software from ArcSoft which
can convert video, photos and PowerPoint files and
download them to the PK201.
MediaConverter supports most file types (WMV, MP4, FLV,
MPeg, MOV, etc) and converts them to AVI, which are often
larger than the originals. I did have some video files
that MediaConverter choked on for no reason it would tell
On the still
image front, the story is better. While the PK201 will
display photos that you copy directly to it, the typical
multi-megabyte file sizes just waste space and take
longer to display. By using MediaConverter, file sizes
for the final JPeg images is generally around 300KB.
can convert PowerPoint files (PPT, PPTX) into a series of
JPeg files. Strangely, it names the files with an
extension of EPF. When it downloads the files to the
PK201, it groups them together in a single folder per
presentation file. A menu option on the projector
displays them without a hitch.
PK201s big brother
If you are willing to part with a bit more money, there
is the Optoma PK301 Pico Pocket Projector. Everything is
identical except it is slightly larger, slightly heavier,
can project 50 ANSI lumens, and has a maximum image size
Not quite perfect
I really like the Optoma PK201 Pico Pocket Projector. But
there are a few things that I see as minor issues.
First is the
20 ANSI lumens output. It is a little weak. But it is not
as bad as I thought it would be. And keeping the
brightness down extends the battery life. Which brings me
to my second point
battery life is short. For me, most of my presentations
run well over an hour. I would pay more (in dollars,
weight, and size) to have a three-hour battery life. But
this is not as big a deal as I thought it would be. I am
generally close to an electrical outlet anyway, so it is
a simple matter to plug it in. One option that might be
really nice would be to allow it to charge on a USB port
while it is in use as a projector.
thing that bugs me a little is the tiny memory included.
28 MB is pretty laughable. Surely it would not cost much
to throw in a couple of GB of storage. But again, this is
not a huge deal as there is the micro SD card slot. I
added a $14 8GB card and that provides me with plenty of
storage for my needs.
am really impressed with the Optoma PK201 Pico Pocket
Projector. I can throw it into my bag with my netbook and
never have to worry about getting somewhere to give a
presentation only to be faced with blank looks when I ask
about the projector they promised would be there.
Come out to the Beginners SIG and I will be happy
to show it to you.
Optoma PK201 Pico Pocket Projector
Price at Amazon.ca: $255.87 (free shipping)
PK201 at Optoma: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2aktylf
PK201 at Amazon.ca: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3vypt7p
Originally published: January, 2012