Gadling gear review – Aaxa Technologies P2 pico projector

Very early this year, we took a look at the 3M mPro110 pocket projector. That device came from the first generation pocket projection devices, and despite lackluster performance, we were pretty impressed with the technology. Now, 12 months later, pocket (or pico) projectors have matured to the point where they are no longer considered toys.

The first of this new generation devices comes from projector maker Aaxa Technologies. Their P2 pico projector uses the newest kind of projection unit, along with one of the brightest LED’s available. The basic specifications are quite impressive:

  • 33 Lumen brightness
  • 800×600 native resolution using an LCoS projection module
  • Built in media player with support for MP4/MP3/WMA/OGG/WAV/AVI/WMV/SMV/ BMP/JPG/GIF/TXT
  • 1GB onboard storage + MicroSDHC expansion slot
  • AV / VGA and USB inputs
  • Headphone/audio output
  • Integrated 1W speaker

Before I bore you any more – here is an image of the projector in action:

This is a photo of the built in media player, projected on my ceiling. The image is 40″ diagonal and is projected in a moderately dimmed room.

This image is of an MP4 movie played on my wall. Once again, the room was not 100% dark, and the diagonal is about 85″.

At this size, the movie is perfectly watchable. It may not be as bright as a “regular” projector, but for something this small, it is absolutely astounding to see it project this well.

And in this final image, you’ll see the projector at just over 100″. This is obviously well over what it is intended for, but even in a dimly lit room, the image is still great. Had the room been 100% dark, it would have looked even better.

The Aaxa P2 kit is equally impressive – in the box you’ll find the projector, battery, battery charger, AC adapter, AV cable, VGA cable (not shown), a tripod with battery pack adapter and a remote control. The only thing I would have liked to see is a carrying case for all the parts. Still, given its low price, this is a very complete projector.

Menus in the media player are fairly easy to navigate, and can be controlled using the buttons on the projector or the remote. The remote sensor is on the rear of the P2, but it managed to pick up the signal quite well.

Buttons on the device – volume and power on the side, and menu/input/media control are on the top. There is a physical power slider and an on/off button – the physical switch keeps the fan on, which you’ll need after using it for anything over 10 minutes as the LED tends to make the unit pretty hot.

That fan is actually quite loud for such a small unit – not “big projector loud”, but still loud enough to require the volume to be turned up a notch.

The AV port is the easiest way to feed a video signal into the projector. It includes an AV adapter for a composite signal with audio, making it easy to hook up an iPod or Zune. If you need better quality, you’ll need to use the D-Sub VGA port, though I did not test that with a component to VGA cable.

The unit is just 260 grams (0.57lbs) and measures 110x59x27mm (4.3″x2.3″x1.06″). As you can in the next photo, it is about the same size as the iPhone.

Wrap up

After playing with the Aaxa P2 for a couple of weeks, my faith in pico projectors is back. Don’t get me wrong – the first generation was fun to play with, but it was hardly something you could actually use for anything more than showing off.

The P2 produces images you can actually put to use in a presentation, or even to keep the kids entertained in a hotel room. And because you don’t need to fully dim your room, it’ll actually come in handy for last minute business meetings.

The Aaxa P2 retails for just $349 – which is the same price as the previous generation projectors launched at. With a higher resolution, about ten times the brightness and a whole assortment of included accessories, the value for money is evident. The added bonus of an integrated media player only makes it better.

To make the deal a little hotter, you can currently apply promo code “P2Holidays2009″ to the purchase and take $30 off the final price. At $319 the P2 is a fantastic bargain and something that will probably make any geek jump with joy if they find it in their Christmas stocking.

The only projector that can match the specifications of the Aaxa P2 is the Dell M109S – but at $399 it lacks an integrated media player and battery pack. It is also quite a bit heavier.

You’ll find the Aaxa P2 Pico Projector over at the site of the manufacturer.