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    PicoPro: A laser projector about the size of an iPhone 6 Plus

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    Several times in the past, TUAW has done reviews of pico projectors - projectors that are so small that they can be slipped into a pocket on a backpack or in a briefcase. Designed to make presentations on the road less burdensome, pico projectors have always had one Achilles Heel - the visual quality of the image they project. A new projector from Celluon called the PicoPro (US$349) aims to bring high resolution and contrast, long battery life, and noise-free operation to tiny projects.

    The PicoPro was introduced to the world at CES 2015, and TUAW is one of the first sites to get a hands-on look at the new device.

    Specifications

    • Dimensions: 6 x 3 x .5 inches (152.4 x 76.2 x 12.7 mm)
    • Weight: 6.7 ounces (189.9 grams)
    • Resolution: 1920 x 720p (16:9 aspect ratio)
    • Interface: HDMI/Miracast/DLNA
    • Battery life: 2 hours for wireless, 3+ hours for cabled
    • Contrast Ratio: 80,000 to 1

    Design

    Design-wise, the PicoPro is a tiny box that's smaller in length and width than an iPhone 6 Plus. It's divided into two "sections", one that contains the actual projector and the other containing the various ports (HDMI, micro-USB for charging, headphone).

    There's no need to focus the PicoPro, as it uses lasers to project the image and has infinite focus. It focuses as sharply an arms-length away from a wall as it does from 10 feet away.

    The PicoPro comes with a small carrying pouch, and with iOS devices you'll need to supply your own digital AV adapter to connect to the HDMI cable. Unfortunately, PicoPro doesn't support AirPlay, so all iOS and Mac connections will be through the HDMI cable. For those who are fans of this site who use other mobile platforms, a slightly less expensive version called PicoAir is available for $299 that works only with the wireless Miracast and DLNA interfaces.

    It's a stylish little device, and one you won't be embarrassed to pull out of your briefcase.

    Function

    With any projector, the proof is in the viewing. Just how bright is the image, and is it easily readable? Can the projector be used in a bright room, or does it require near-darkness. How much noise does it make? And does it do a good job of projecting Keynote and PowerPoint presentations?

    To test the PicoPro, I connected it to an iPhone 6 Plus using the Apple Lightning to HDMI connector and an included HDMI cable. My test documents were a number of Keynote presentations that I use while teaching an iOS class.

    Holding the PicoPro in my hand and wandering around my home office to find "targets", I was able to clearly see the bright image from the projector on a variety of surfaces. Your best bet will probably still be to project onto a reflective screen in a slightly-darkened room, but I was able to project slides onto a textured ceiling in daylight and clearly read all of the text. Even on a very saturated blue wall with some daylight coming through windows, the text on my slides was very readable.

    The color reproduction of the PicoPro is incredibly good, and the image is sharp from edge to edge. The fact that you never have to focus is worth the price of admission. I don't know how many times I've watched as a hot projector has slowly gone out of focus. There are some additional positives - it's absolutely cool in operation and creates no sound at all. No more raising your voice to be heard over the scream of a cooling fan!

    Following is a video of the PicoPro from "Eli the Computer Guy" at CES; note that the flickering is due to filming the projection with a digital camera - in reality, the image shows virtually no flicker unless you're moving it around.

    Conclusion

    Up to this point, I haven't been impressed with any of the pico projectors I've seen. However, that has changed with the Celluon PicoPro. The image quality and brightness out of this tiny box is stellar, and to think that it does it all without making a sound or getting hot. There are no expensive bulbs to burn out (those often cost just as much as the PicoPro itself!), and using an iPhone, an adapter, and this projector makes for a featherweight presentation tool.

    My only negative is that the device doesn't support AirPlay. The non-HDMI, wireless-only version of this project will sell for $299, and it would be awesome if Celluon would support iOS - the choice of enterprises everywhere. We were also unable to get word on a shipping date and retail outlets for the PicoPro.

    Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible

     three and one half star rating out of four stars possible

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