3M Mobile Projector MP220 – Review and Test Report
The 3M MP220 is a compact projector made by the same folks who make the Post-it notes that mine currently sits atop. Weighing less than a pound, what used to be a massive orifice attached to the ceilings of conference rooms and widebody airliners sits in an ultra-portable and very cool package. The MP220 packs a serious punch: with 65 lumens of LED driven light, it can project a widescreen VGA (1024×600) image on up to a 65” screen, all under its own power and control.
While the MP220 can be attached to a computer or iOS device using an accessory cable, it actually contains a built-in Android operating system, which is used to open videos, images, documents or other media files stored on its 2 GB of internal storage or on a larger and more interchangeable MicroSD card. The Android OS interfaces with a TrackPoint (similar to those found on a BlackBerry) as well as the typical array of Android buttons (Home, Menu, Back, and Search), which control the device. It comes pre-loaded with media players for music, video, and pictures, Documents to Go, which allows you to open and edit Microsoft Office documents once you register it, as well as Cannonball Pro and Fun Pack. Other apps can be installed via MicroSD card, since the device has no direct Internet connection.
3M MP220 MOBILE PROJECTOR – THE GOOD
The projector lives up to its purpose; it is portable and fits nicely in the compartment in my backpack that once held a graphing calculator. It can run on its own power and pulling a projector out of your backpack, and then projecting a TV show or presentation with no additional accessories, has a huge wow factor. You can fix things with the built-in Documents to Go app, and in reality, the MP220 is more of a tablet that projects than a mere projector. The device seems to have been designed with frequent travelers in mind, since the power adaptor has interchangeable plugs for different outlets around the world, and battery power means that you aren’t going to be tethered to an outlet while presenting.
3M MP220 MOBILE PROJECTOR – THE BAD
I managed to corrupt the software on one of the projectors by merely trying to load videos from my MacBook Pro. After that, the device would not stay on for more than a couple of seconds. My second projector didn’t meet this fate.
With an accessory cable, you can connect the MP220 to a computer or other device using a VGA cable (a type of cable once used to attach computer monitors) or to an iPad or dock connector-equipped iPhone or iPad, although the newest Apple models will not work with it since Apple’s new Lightning adaptor does not support video-out. Although I tested these with my iPhone 4S and iPad 2, which use the old-style Apple 30-pin connector and are capable of video out, I was not able to make either work, and the projector said it was “syncing” for well over 15 minutes.
With Documents to Go, I tried to present several formatted PowerPoint presentations onto my closet door, since I had finally found myself somewhere with a non-paneled door that was more or less white. Unfortunately, the formatting I had done to make the presentation aesthetically pleasing, that is compatible with both PowerPoint and Keynote, was lost, and the presentations became difficult to read, with various letters being dropped to new lines. Without the optional remote, changing slides requires stroking the touch point, which would shake the image and disrupt the focus, which is understandable considering that it is a projector, but makes it less than ready to use out of the box.
You can (slowly) edit word documents, excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations with the on-screen keyboard, which also requires stroking the touch pad and moving a mouse pointer to each letter on the on-screen QWERTY keyboard, which frustrated me about halfway through entering my e-mail address when I had to re-register the software.
Projectors, by nature, require a fan to ventilate the lamp that is, in all fairness, doing heroic work. The MP220’s fan, however turns on about 10 seconds after the projector, and makes any sound coming from the speaker inaudible.
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