Portability is key when it comes to pico projectors. Featuring a built-in battery and the ability to operate sans notebook, the Aaxa P4-X pico projector ($299) certainly meets that requirement. This 8-ounce device also projects a fairly bright and colorful image, and lets you connect to laptops in a variety of ways. Should the P4-X be your go-to for your next meeting?
Click to EnlargeUnlike other squarish pico projectors such as the Acer C120 and the ViewSonic PLED-W200, the Aaxa P4-X is rectangular in shape. At 5.6 x 2.9 x 1.25 inches and 8 ounces, it's just as portable, though. The entire projector is coated in a soft-touch rubber--which doesn't show fingerprints--with air vents on all sides.
The top of the P4-X has a few basic, but intuitive, controls. Four arrow buttons surround an "OK" button, below which are power and Back buttons.
The back of the projector has a miniHDMI and a mini USB port, while one of the short sides has a composite A/V, headphone and a VGA port (which requires an included adapter). The front has the lens on one side, and a microSD card slot toward the other side.
While the P4-X lacks an adjustable foot, it does have a screwhole for a tripod. We like that Aaxa includes a VGA adapter, a composite adapter, as well as a small miniUSB cord, so you can attach a USB key.
The projector also comes with a small silver remote control, whose buttons were easy to press. However, we had to point it directly at the left rear of the P4-X in order for any commands to register. A small flexible tripod is also included.
Click to EnlargeWe liked the straightforward interface on the P4-X. When you first turn it on, the home screen displays six icons: VGA, composite, HDMI, microSD, USB stick, and Settings. After that, it was a simple matter of navigating to the appropriate icon using the arrow buttons on the projector and pressing OK.
It's nice that you don't need a notebook to use the P4-X. Selecting either microSD or USB opens a second menu, with icons for Photo, Music, Movie and Text. It's somewhat annoying that you have to go through this step before getting to the content you want.
Click to EnlargeThe P4-X uses a DLP LED lamp rated for 80 lumens with a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and supports a max resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. That puts it more on a par, brightness-wise, with the Acer C120 (100 lumens), rather than the W200 (200 lumens).
Using our AEMC lightmeter, we measured an average of 89 lux from six feet away, which is just below the C120 (94 lux) and the W200 (98 lux). At that distance, the P4-X projected a 44-inch image, compared with 49 inches for the C120 and 78 inches for the W200.
For the most part, colors seemed oversaturated. Even after switching between the three color profiles (Cool, Medium and Warm) and fussing with the settings, skin tones were reddish, and the Bosphorous looked overly blue in the trailer for "Taken 2." Still, for a pico projector, we were generally pleased with how movies and our desktop looked.
Unlike the ViewSonic W200, the P4-X lacks an anti-keystone feature, so you'll have to ensure that the projector remains level with whatever surface onto which you project. Oddly, when the projector was connected to our notebook and we returned to the Home menu, we could see a ghostlike image of the desktop in the background on the wall.
After 15 minutes, the top of the projector measured 112 degrees Fahrenheit near the lens. The controls were a warm 95 degrees. Worse, the fan was so loud as to drown out any audio coming from the P4X's 1-watt speaker.
Not only do you not need a notebook for the P4-X, you don't need a power cord, either. The built-in battery lasted almost exactly 90 minutes, which should be more than enough to get you through a presentation. Two caveats here, though: When running on battery power, the P4-X's brightness is limited to 55 lumens. Also, there's no battery life meter. A warning flashed on the screen about 20 seconds before the projector turned off.
Click to EnlargeWith a wide variety of inputs and a built-in battery, the $299 Aaxa P4-X is one of the more mobile pico projectors out there. We especially like the soft-touch design, and the on-screen menus that provide plenty of options without being too complex. However, while the picture quality is good for a projector this size, the P4-X's image isn't as bright or big as the competition. The Acer C120 is $100 cheaper and performs slightly better, but we prefer the Aaxa because it's easier to use and can run on battery power.