I’ve sat through my fair share of business presentations squinting at faded slides and trying to read unrecognizable text. I’ve taken my laptop into presentations only to find that the projector won’t go above 800x600 resolution. Other times, I’ve had to present with a projector that sounded like a diesel generator. Thankfully technology has come a long way, and we now have a range of projectors known as pico projectors, which are small, lightweight projectors that are more portable than other bulkier projectors. However not all projectors are created equal, so it’s important that you settle on one that is both portable while still delivering some great projection quality. Today I have a look at the P1M projector from ASUS, to see if it’s a worthy investment despite its small size.
Build Quality & Design
The P1M projector is a follow up from ASUS’ previous P1 projector, however the company have made a few improvements based on consumer feedback. The design is exactly the same as before, with the device being constructed out of a durable but mostly plastic body. At the top of the P1M is a row of buttons which lets you access the projector’s menu, switch input sources, and of course turn on the projector. There’s a focus ring to help you manually fine-tune the image projected until it’s clear, but there’s unfortunately no zoom option, so whatever image you end up with depends entirely on how close or far the projector is from your projecting surface. The P1M is also very quick to startup and shut down, taking only 6 seconds to power up from a cold boot.
To the right of the projector you’ll find a few new additions, namely the addition of an SD card slot so you can instantly view videos and photos on the P1M projector without using a PC. There’s also an “EZLINK” port, which is essentially a USB cable that you can connect to your laptop to use the projector. There’s also another slim port which will let you connect one of the two supplied cables for extra connectivity options. One cable converts the port into a USB port, so you can plug in a thumb drive to access content directly on the projector. The other cable provides you with a standard VGA port, as well as an RCA video port to connect devices such as a DVD player or a games console. The cables are not too long, so it’s wise to keep your laptop or drives close to the projector. Finally, there’s a little kick stand at the bottom which lets you prop the projector up slightly, but it would have been better if this could have been adjusted a bit more rather than just having the stand in one of two positions – open or closed.
The ASUS P1M projector features a durable LED light source, rated at 200 ANSI lumens and about a 5 second startup time. It features a projected resolution of 1,280x800 and can throw a 40” screen from a distance of about 1m, making it ideal for small meetings or conference rooms. It’s also incredibly bright, even in rooms with a fair amount of sunlight streaming in.
Connectivity & Performance
When connected via VGA cable to my laptop, the projector did very well with displaying web pages and my otherwise boring Powerpoint slides. Text was very readable, though colors weren’t as nice as I thought they would be. Bright primary colors showed up well, but certain darker hues of red were reduced to a murky brown. Viewing HD video content on the P1M was also a mixed bag, with some trailers failing to show up clearly because they had a lot more darker scenes in them. Still, this has to be looked at as a business projector with only occasional media use, so for that purpose the P1M does well. The P1M also has auto-keystone correction, so even if the projector is on an angled surface, the projected image will appear straight.
Performance however was disappointing when connected via USB. Although Windows 7 did detect that the projector was connected, it didn’t actually work until I ran an exe on the virtual CD that became available after I connected the projector to my laptop. Running full HD trailers proved a bit too much for the P1M, with the video lagging behind the audio in many parts of the clip. Even when connected to a USB 3.0 port, it just wasn’t enough to keep both the video and audio in sync – connecting via VGA however solved the sync issue.
Popping an SD card into the P1M instantly launches the in-built media navigator, which lets you play back photos, video, and music, as well as launch a select number of office documents for instant viewing. It’s a handy feature to have for most media, however I still prefer opening documents from my laptop for better navigation options. One bizarre thing I found is that when browsing photos on the SD card, the folder names weren’t showing up which made it difficult to navigate around. Three vents in the front, side, and back of the P1M keep it mostly cool, however the internal fans can really get a bit noisy at times.
If you’re looking for a portable pico projector that is capable of projecting some really bright images regardless of surrounding light sources, then the ASUS P1M is the one for you. The in-built card reader is certainly a handy option to have, and despite a few issues here and there, the ASUS P1M is a solid and portable projector is an easy purchase for business use.