PROS / The Sony MP-CL1 is built with a durable and cleanly professional design.
CONS / Middling brightness makes the MP-CL1 difficult to use in viewing environments with ambient light.
VERDICT / Dull brightness aside, the MP-CL1 is a strong mini projector for business or home users who need a portable device.
Even by the standards of compact pico projectors, the Sony MP-CL1 is notably small. But in our testing, we still found a lot to like about it. The MP-CL1’s build quality and construction are excellent. With dimensions of only 5.9 x 3 x 0.5 inches and a weight of 0.46 pounds, this Sony can easily fit in a pocket or suitcase without any issue. The mini projector also benefits from a sleek black metal body that gives it a clean and professional appearance.
For projection on large displays, Sony includes a small plastic mounting clip that angles the projector upward. While it’s a useful addition that integrates nicely with the projector – a software preset adjusts the display angle when the clip is attached – it isn’t the most elegant solution versus comparable projectors. Especially for pico projectors where portability is key, extra accessories generally feel like clutter.
On its side, the MP-CL1 sports a limited selection of connectivity options. While the projector has Micro-USB and USB ports, both are used solely for charging. As a concession to the Sony’s compact dimensions, the projector only has an MHL port for video output, but it includes a full-size HDMI adapter that makes connectivity easy when you’re outside of the home. Miracast support is a nice touch for wireless streaming, but with its basic set of port options, this mini projector isn’t the most versatile for business users. The projector also has a basic speaker, but in our evaluations, it offers middling performance and is best if only used for non-multimedia applications.
In our hands-on testing, we found that the MP-CL1’s projection abilities had clear upsides and downsides. Thanks to the projector’s laser-based hardware, it has excellent color accuracy and produced a Delta-E score of 13 in our benchmarking. For color accuracy tests, scores closer to zero are considered best, and most midrange projectors have scores of around 20. The Sony also had best-in-class marks during our battery stress testing, lasting for an impressive two hours and 42 minutes before powering down.
However, the projector’s low brightness rating limits its versatility. With a manufacturer brightness rating of only 32 lumens, you have to use the projector in dim or dark environments if you want to see a usable display image. During daytime testing away from direct sunlight, images were hard to discern. For instance, details in nighttime scenes from the show Stranger Things were borderline unwatchable because black colors and details were severely washed out. While most projectors perform better in dark environments, the best pico projectors perform well in a variety of viewing conditions. With its lackluster performance, Sony’s limited abilities hinder its versatility.
Despite its performance stumbles, there’s still a lot to like about the Sony MP-CL1. While it’s not necessarily the most flexible pico projector, the MP-CL1’s strong battery life and build quality make it a good option for users who value portability and ease of use.