Review: Aaxa Technologies M1 – the travel friendly micro projector all grown up now

We’ve been covering pico and micro projectors here on Gadling since the very first one hit store shelves, and while the technology may not appeal to everyone, plenty of business travelers still rely on Powerpoint to do their job, and a projector is (sadly) an integral part of that.

In this review, we’ll look at the newest from projector company Aaxa Technologies. Their M1+ Micro Projector uses the latest LCOS technology to squeeze a very competent little projector into a small case, packing a 66 (or 75) lumen SVGA beamer into just 14 ounces.

The projector itself looks just like one its larger cousins – but smaller. Lens is on the front, focus lever on the top, vents on the side and a variety of connectors on the rear.

On the rear of the M1+ are connectors for VGA/component , AV in, audio out, USB, SD and power. The projector comes with a VGA cable and an AV cable. Additional cables for the iPod/iPhone, Zune and other devices are available from Aaxa.

One of the smarter features of the M1+ is its built in media player. The device supports a wide variety of media formats, including MP3, AVI, JPG, VOB and 3GP. Media can be added to the 1GB internal memory, off an SD card, or off a plugged in USB device.

The only button on the M1+ is the power button – so all other controls have to be operated using the included remote. Its range is quite decent, but you’ll need to point it directly at the projector for it to work.

Image quality is outstanding – the projector supports native 800×600 resolutions with enough brightness to project images up to around 100 inches in a dark room, or up to 60 inches in a dim room. With this, you’ll have the resolution and brightness required to give a presentation, and watch a movie on your hotel room wall.

A 1 watt speaker is built in, so you can play content directly off a media player, without having to drag along extra hardware. The only really confusing design flaw of the M1+ is its lack of a stand or tripod mount. You need to use the projector vertically, and since it lacks an adjustment screw, you’ll probably need to find some books or folders to prop it up for your presentation.

This design flaw is a real shame, because the M1+ is by far the best micro projector I’ve ever tested in this price range – images are crisp, the unit is quiet, and the built in media player is very good. Still, despite this minor flaw, the M1+ is an absolute steal at just $299, making it the best value for money in this category. The projector comes complete with a remote control, VGA and AV cables and a USB data cable. A battery pack is available for just under $80.

To learn more about the Aaxa Technologies M1+ and its brighter version, the M1 limited, head on over to the product site.

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.