Editor's note: A newer version of this product, the AAXA P300 Pico Projector, is available. The manufacturer lists the new version as offering the following features: a higher resolution; internal battery; and the ability to produce 400 Lumens of LED brightness. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version of this product when we next update the Mini Projector reviews.
The M2 Micro Projector from AAXA Technologies is the best mini projector we researched. Not only does this device have a reasonably high brightness for its size, but it also has a good resolution, image size and features, plus it is still fairly compact. This device receives our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award since it has everything you might need when it comes to a professional presentation or a movie night with the family.
The company of AXXA Technologies was founded in 2008 and has always been interested in pico and mini projectors. With all of the research they've done on LCoS and LED technology, they have developed mini projectors that are reliable despite their small size. The core development occurs in Silicon Valley, California, and some work is done in China, as well.
There are a lot of different factors that contribute to a quality picture, including projection type, resolution, contrast ratio, refresh rate and brightness. This mini projector offers the LCoS projection type, and the lamp uses triple RGB LEDs. The native resolution for this product is XGA (1024 x 768). This is one of the highest resolutions we saw in all the products we reviewed. Additionally, the unit can support resolutions up to 1280 x 720 and can reach upwards of 30 frames per second. The contrast ratio is also fairly high at 2,000:1. This enables the difference between the light and dark areas to be quite distinct although the blacks will only be as dark as the initial non-lit screen. The refresh rate of this product is 60 hertz, which is less than what you might get on a larger projector, but for a mini projector, we were pleased with the results. The brightness is definitely the biggest difference between the mini projectors available. This mini projector has one of the brightest lamps available, boasting 110 ANSI lumens. Though it is quite high for the size, you will still need a moderately dim room in order to see the picture clearly and to provide the best contrast between light and dark.
A few of the other picture options with this mini projector include a variable image size of 10 to 100 inches. This is dependent on the distance the projector is from the screen. This mini projector also has an aspect ratio of 4:3. When viewing something in the high definition 16:9 format, the unit will just display the black bar on the top and the bottom of the image. If you discover there is a problem with the image being stretched or skewed, make sure the device the projector is hooked up to is also on a 4:3 aspect ratio setting.
This product has a plethora of ports available, including a mini USB port and data cord. This is a great option if you want to use the onboard media player with a standard USB drive. This can also be used to connect other devices. Some of the other ports include composite AV, VGA and HDMI. With all of these port options and a variety of cables that ship with the product, you can use the mini projector with everything from your laptop to a smart phone, and even a game consol. There is also an option for adding external speakers through the 2.5mm audio output. If you don't want to bother anyone with the noise but still want to hear it, you can always hook up headphones for your own personal enjoyment.
The features of this product, including a speaker, SD card slot and internal memory, push it to the number one product spot. When you use the projector with a USB drive or other device without a speaker, you won't have to worry about the lack of sound. Built into the mini projector is a single 1.5W stereo speaker. Another feature we found useful was the SD card slot. This slot is designed to handle 16GB SD high capacity cards. If you don't want to worry about using an external device, you can always store your presentation on the mini projector itself. It comes with 1GB of onboard flash memory.
One of the other features we found very valuable with this product is that it comes with an adjustable tripod. This tripod makes it easy to set up the laptop projector, even if the surface you’re working on isn't level. The estimated lamp life of this product is a little lower than some of the other products, coming in at 15,000 hours, but that is a lot better than what you might see on a larger counterpart. The operating noise is a little louder than we expected for something so small. The noise level specified by the manufacturer is less than 30dB, and while it wasn't this loud the whole time we tested it, we wished it was a little quieter at times.
This mini projector was easy to set up, figure out and use. All of the control buttons are located on the top of the unit and neatly labeled. A remote is also included for the mini projector. It was kind of odd that the remote has two menu buttons. This did take a little getting accustomed to since one was for the display settings and one was for the media player. We were also pleased to see that all of the ports were clearly labeled, so we never had any confusion as where to plug in which cord.
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This mini projector is on the larger size of mini. It is roughly five inches wide and long and one inch tall, too large to fit into a shirt pocket but still small enough for the palm of your hand. It also weighs a pound, which is a little on heavier side for these units, but it’s still small enough to be easy to store. Something else we enjoyed was the quick turn on and off. Since this mini projector uses a LED light source, you don't have to worry about long warm-up and cool-down times. The LED light it also means it will consume less power than other projectors.
Hooking this mini projector up to a device is simple enough. The main menu allows you to toggle through the various inputs until you reach the one you want to use. This is also how you access the onboard memory. One of the inputs is the main menu for the built-in portable media player. While we liked the idea of having a portable media player, we thought the design of the software was a little confusing. The onboard software does not determine what to do with a file from the file extension; instead, you first have to select the file type and then the drive you want to use. Interestingly enough there are three built in games you can play on the projector in the media player, although using the remote is a little difficult at times.
The M2 Micro Projector is fun and easy to use. With the bright light and the high contrast, even if the room isn't completely dark, you’ll still be able to easily see the projected image. We were also impressed with the included tripod and the portable music player, and this product makes using an SD card or USB stick easy. While it is larger compared to some of the other mini projectors on the market, the quality of its features and functionality make it one of the best.