My 3 year-old home projector suddenly broke down, so I sent it for repair. Coincidentally, Sony offered their new mobile projector, MP-CL1, for review. It supports connecting via HDMI, MHL or wireless Miracast which is a standard Android feature.
The device is no bigger than the ASUS Zenfone Selfie, or roughly the size of a 5.5-inch smartphone.
The wireless mirroring is very convenient as it allows ease of projecting the Android device screen without the fuss of cables. I find the initial wireless connection a hit-and-miss. But once connection is established, the streaming is stable and does not drop out or stutter.
The on-screen menu is toggled using the 3-way dial. You can select the input source, adjust keystone, flip display (left-right), display setting, display calibration. The built-in speaker has similar audio quality as a smartphone – bright treble, flat bass – but louder and clearer. You could increase the volume of the source (e.g. smartphone) to maximise the overall volume. You can also plug to an external sound system via the standard 3.5mm audio jack.
Let’s be realistic: a pocketable mobile project like MP-CL1 which produces a mere 32 lumens cannot match a traditional projector that on average generates about 3000 lumens.
In addition, the MP-CL1 loses sharpness and brightness as you project further from the wall. The projector auto-focus fine, but is just not able to resolve details. I would not use it for office text-based productivity or website browsing. I would say that realistically the MP-CL1 works great as a close range projector of around 20 inch screen equivalent under indoor conditions. It is possible to increase projection size further and enjoy the viewing experience but only in a dark room and limited to video watching. Reading small text like news website is not practical, but movie subtitles are fine.
The best thing about this portable projector is the ease of mirroring the Android device whenever and wherever. Last week when my daughter took a lot of photos and videos during the Chinese New Year celebrations in school, we watched them over the MP-CL1, when previously we would had to contend with viewing via the small smartphone screen.
The MP-CL1 has a battery capacity of 3400mAh and can last about 2 hours of continuous use. The projector gets really hot during operation as it dissipates the heat build-up via a small quiet fan and its aluminum external case. To check remaining battery level, press the power button quickly. If the power button blinks orange 3 times quickly, it means there is over 70% remaining, twice when at least 30% remaining, once when it’s below 30%. There is no other way of checking battery life. Full charge using standard USB outlet requires about 3-5 hours, depending on the charger rating. AC charger is not included in the package.
The projector also works as a portable battery pack to charge your other devices, but I don’t think I would want to drain the limited battery capacity. Still, it would be good to know that the device could be repurposed in future if you gradually find yourself not using the projector as often as charging devices on the go. Just plug your device into the full-USB port without having to turn on the device, and the MP-CL1 provides about 1A charge current.
The MP-CL1 mobile projector is excellent for fuss-free projection of video or photo during intimate gatherings or personal enjoyment. Setup is fast and easy, and wireless connectivity is stable.
If you prioritise display quality over convenience, then it would be better to get a proper projector at similar price. But the MP-CL1 is good enough for my wife to watch her latest Korean drama series, streamed via her Samsung Galaxy Note 5. It gives little reason to convert any room into a home theatre.
Dimension (WxDxH): 149.5 x 77 x 13mm
Diagonal projection image size: 40 inches at 1.15m
Output Resolution: 1920 x 720
Contrast ratio: 80,000:1
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Brightness: Average 32 lumens, max 37 lumens
Light source: laser diode (2,000 hrs)
Laser class: Class 3R
Weight: 210 g
Battery capacity: 3,400mAh
Wi-Fi Standard: 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 / 5GHz)
Input/Output: 5V 1.5A
Package includes: HDMI to Mini-HDMI adapter, Micro-USB cable, stand.
Product manual: https://docs.sony.com/release/Help_3MP010701.pdf