As one of the flagship models in AAXA’s pico projector lineup, the AAXA M5’s strengths come from its focus on the fundamentals as well as the details. Pico projectors typically have to choose between portability and performance, but the M5 largely manages to balance them, which makes it a projection option that’s equally suited for home and business users. With its stellar image quality and full suite of features, the AAXA M5 is a still one of the best mini projectors around.
On paper, the M5 benefits from a strong set of specifications. The LED-based projector has a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels and can upscale video content up to 1080p. The projector also comes equipped with a bulb that has a manufacturer brightness rating of 900 lumens.
During our hands-on evaluation in both a dark viewing environment and one with ambient light, the M5 proved a reliable performer. Thanks in part to the projector’s low throw ratio of 1.2:1 – the distance a projector is from a display versus the width of the broadcasted image – we could make out details like individual pores and hair texture in upscaled 1080p videos. On stock settings, color fidelity was a similar strength for the M5. Even in light, colors remained warm and rendered accurately.
The M5 features a full suite of business-friendly connectivity options. The rear and sides of the mini portable projector include VGA support, full-size HDMI input, composite video support, a microSD slot and a standard 3.5mm audio output.
However, as with most business projectors, the M5 doesn’t have support for popular home features like Bluetooth audio connectivity and wireless screen mirroring. The M5’s operating system also has a versatile integrated media player. Through a microSD card or USB thumb drive, you can display file formats like JPG, TXT and MP3.
The AAXA is a sturdy pico projector. With dimensions of 6 x 6 x 1.8 inches, and a weight of 1.9 pounds, the M5 does carry a noticeable amount of bulk compared to smaller competing mini projectors. The chassis is constructed from polished black and white plastic. While it’s not the most visually striking of cases, the M5 has a nice sense of heft to it when held, and flex on the body is virtually nonexistent.
While it’s still highly portable, and benefits from an included carrying case, the M5 is certainly far from pocket size. The case includes a basic 5-inch tripod that can be used to adjust the device in large rooms. Unlike most other projectors, sound is not an afterthought in the M5’s design. While the sound quality is still a step behind your typical desktop speakers, it sports a rare twin-speaker setup. The extra audio hardware makes the M5 good for watching movies or other multimedia with large groups.
As with other AAXA models, the projector touts an internal battery for on-the-go use, and results from our battery tests ran in line with the company’s listed battery lifespan; our model lasted for 65 minutes before powering down, which was only minutes shy of AAXA’s 70-minute rating. The M5’s battery life is surprisingly strong considering the projector has a high-power bulb. If you think you’ll need a projector with double the battery life, check out the LG PH550.
The bulb’s power ties into one of its only major missteps. For such a small projector, the M5’s fans run noticeably loud. Even in everyday use, they were about as loud as a laptop fans at full blast when it was connected to the AC adapter. If the projector is hooked up to an external sound source or you are watching video from a distance, it won’t be a major concern. Still, for the projector’s price, it is a slight nuisance.
AAXA offers a one-year warranty on the M5. The company also provides support through a few channels including an online resource section, phone and email.
Should you buy the AAXA M5?
The AAXA M5 was one of the top rated mini projectors when we first reviewed it, but that was several years ago, and times have changed. It's still a solid option if you can find one at a discount, but these days you're better off going for the newer AAXA M6, which has native 1080p resolution and costs less than the M5s we've still seen on sale.