PROS / The Optoma ML550 has stellar color accuracy and image quality.
CONS / The projector is missing some features for home users like Bluetooth support and an internal battery.
VERDICT / The ML550’s combination of excellent build and image quality makes it a strong option for business users.
For mobile workers, mini projectors often have a mix of upsides and downsides. Whether it’s brightness, image quality or noise, it can be difficult to find a projector that’s versatile enough for your home or office and flexible enough to fit in your budget. Even though it’s one of the lower-end models in Optoma’s projector family, the Optoma ML550’s image quality and construction earn it the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
During our benchmarking, there was very little to dislike about the compact projector’s picture quality. In testing, we evaluated its brightness and color rendering abilities with a colorimeter in a dark environment. Even though it has LED-based hardware, the ML550 demonstrated phenomenal color accuracy, with a Delta-E of 8 – when measuring color accuracy, the closer the colorimeter readout is to zero, the better the projector displays a spectrum of colors.
The projector’s performance is notable when compared to the other devices – both LED and laser models – in our review. To put the ML550’s score into context, midrange LED-based pico projectors generally had readouts in the 15 to 25 range in our test. Similarly priced laser projectors – which generally have better image fidelity because of more efficient projecting hardware – produced readouts of around 8 to 15.
Our hands-on evaluations confirmed the projector’s quality. Whether we were watching animated content, YouTube videos or detailed dramas, the Optoma didn’t miss a step. In dark and bright viewing environments, images were clear and detailed. The ML550’s throw ratio of 1.5:1 – the distance the projector is from a display versus the size of the broadcasted image – is one of the longest in our review. This can make projecting tricky if you are working in a small space.
On its rear, the Optoma has a fairly standard set of connections. Along with a full-size HDMI input, you’ll find a microSD slot, support for USB storage and a VGA port. Unlike home-orientated pico projectors, the ML550 doesn’t support Bluetooth audio output and wireless mirroring out of the box – you have to purchase a separate USB dongle.
Its internal memory allows you to save files on the projector and then play them without connecting another device. While the interface isn’t as intuitive as a traditional laptop, it’s a useful touch for business users who plan to use the projector on the go.
The Optoma is much like comparably compact mini projector models. It sports dimensions of 4.1 x 4.1 x 1.5 inches and a weight of 0.8 pounds. The projector also comes with a miniature remote for basic volume and navigation control.
Speaker quality is an afterthought on most pico projectors, and the Optoma’s 1-watt speaker is no exception. In our testing, we found the ML550’s sound output to be thin and underpowered. For multimedia applications like movies, you’ll want to use the projector’s 3.5mm jack to connect speakers. As with most higher-end projectors, the ML550 doesn’t have an internal battery and has to be connected to the included power adapter.
Help & Support
Optoma offers a one-year warranty on the ML550. It also provides troubleshooting assistance through several channels, including phone, email, live chat agents and an online resource section with manuals and other documentation.
From the inside and outside, the Optoma ML550 benefits from strong specifications. It’s missing some features found on projectors built for home use and as such is more likely to appeal to business users, but it has stellar build quality and image quality.