Megapower ML138 DLP WXGA LED Projector
Tiny projector plays big.
Text:/ Stuart Gregg
What do you do when you turn up to a client meeting and the monitor or projector they promised for your presentation is not there? You pull out your pocket size projector of course.
When a 250mm x 200mm white cardboard box turned up on my desk with a note asking me to review the enclosed projector, I was intrigued.
There are a number of pico projectors in the market from the small to the ridiculously miniature that attach to your smart phone. This unit sits in the middle, size-wise. It measures 170mm x 110mm x 60mm so in my mind, is designed to be carried in your laptop bag or backpack. It won’t put your shoulder out either, weighing around 750g or 1.2kg with power supply and cables.
The brand isn’t clearly stated on the unit but the model number is ML138 and a bit of web research shows it as a Megapower ML138. When connected via HDMI, it shows up as an Mstar demo.
Using DLP technology and three LED light sources it delivers impressive performance for its price and size. The LED lifespan is claimed to be 30,000 hours, which, if even half true, will probably exceed the unit’s working life.
The kit comes with projector, power supply, remote, AV and HDMI cables. In line with the laptop theme the projector has an internal battery, which after initial charging ran a full-length movie and still registered 25 per cent battery life remaining. It has a three-hour battery life claim when run in eco mode, which is acceptable for most situations.
The projector takes composite video and stereo audio via an RCA-to-mini-jack (3.5mm) adaptor. Audio out is also available via a separate mini-jack. A 15-pin VGA socket takes care of your analogue computer signal and accepts inputs from 640 x 480 up to 1920 x 1080 at 60Hz. It recognises and clocks signals cleanly.
HDMI worked well with all source types including DVD, Blu-ray and computers. I ran a few Keynote presentations from my iPhone via the HDMI adapter and was impressed at the quality and simplicity.
You can run videos and photos through USB and SD card sockets and navigation is very simple. It has a fixed lens with a ratio of 1.4:1, and I managed to get images up to 2.5m (100in) diagonal to focus. While the claimed output is 250 ANSI lumens, I didn’t have access to our test kit on the day so all I can say is at a 2.5m diagonal in a meeting room environment, it produced an acceptably bright image.
For a simple projector, it has a range of features and functions I did not expect.
There are four image settings, three standard and one user, allowing for contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness. The standard settings I found had fairly crushed blacks giving high contrast but low detail images, but you can achieve a reasonable image with the user settings. The settings for colour balance, keystone and orientation all worked well and were easy to navigate.
Personally I would use it for client presentations and impromptu kids’ movie nights, and will be looking for ways to incorporate a number of them into events in interesting ways.
The projector is not über chic in design but appears solid and well built, and in the included carry-bag should last well in the bottom of your backpack. At $499 (including GST and delivery), it’s not the cheapest ultra small projector, but it does represent good value.
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Built-in media player formats: AVI, MPEG 1/2/4, RMVB, MKV, MJPEG, JPEG, BMP, PNG, WMA, MP3, AAC
Data storage: USB mass storage, MicroSD
Built in keypad or IR remote control
Output to speaker: 3.5mm audio jack
Inputs: AV (composite), VGA, HDMI
Light source: LED RGB
Imaging device: DLP
Native resolution: WXGA 1280 x 800
Brightness: 250 lumens
Max contrast: 1000:1
Warranty: 3 years
Lamp warranty: 2 years
Lamp life: 30,000 hours
Throw ratio: 1.4:1
Projection distance: 600mm – 3000mm
Image size: 510mm – 2570mm
Battery life: 120 mins
Dimensions (WxHxD): 170mm x 110mm x 60mm
Projector weight: 750g