The PicoPix looks like a miniature version of a standard projector and is designed to be carried everywhere. It uses an LED lamp and liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) technology to project a 52in diagonal image at 7ft. It can run on batteries for two and a half hours, and play MP4 videos from USB drives.
LCoS is much like digital light processing (DLP) technology, but where DLP uses an array of moving micro-mirrors to reflect a light source either through the lens or away from it, depending on whether the pixel is on or off, LCoS uses liquid crystals on top of a reflective surface. These block light or allow it to reach the reflective surface below – if light is allowed to hit the mirror, it’s reflected out through the lens. In DLP projectors, the light then passes through red, green and blue filters in a spinning colour wheel to produce three colour images, one after another. The fast speed of the wheel tricks your eyes into seeing a full-colour image.
At least, that’s the theory; in practice, your eyes sometimes pick up on the individual red, green and blue images, and this creates what’s known as the rainbow effect. In the PicoPix’s LCoS system, the light source is made up of separate red, green and blue LEDs that flash quickly – but not quickly enough to remove the rainbow effect. It’s quite apparent, especially in black-and white images or videos in which there is quick movement.
Another problem is that it’s incredibly hard to achieve a perfectly rectangular image with the PicoPix. There’s no keystone correction, so the projector must be absolutely level and square-on to your screen. It also produces a brightness of only 30 lumens, so you’ll want to turn the lights off for best results. Colours were vivid in the right conditions, although there was a strong red cast. Image controls are limited to Brightness, Contrast and Saturation, so you can’t correct this.
The projector can play files from its internal 2GB storage, an SDHC card or a USB flash drive. The built-in MP4 player can play a wide variety of container files and codecs, including MKV and Flash video, MPEG4, H.263 and H.264. Audio support is limited to MP3 and Wav, and you can view images in JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF and TIFF formats. You’ll need to attach the PicoPix to a computer for presentations as it can’t read PowerPoint files natively, but if your presentation is in a video format, you’ll only need to carry the projector.
The PicoPix comes with an adaptor to connect to composite video and stereo RCA audio inputs, but if you want to plug into a laptop, you’ll need to buy the £20 VGA adaptor, which also connects to your laptop’s 3.5mm audio jack to play audio over the projector’s tiny speakers. There’s also a 3.5mm audio output socket for speakers or headphones.