A PROJECTOR THAT’S BOTH PORTABLE AND PORT-RICH, BUT LACKING IN THE IMAGE DEPARTMENT.
PORTABLE PROJECTORS HAVE the benefits of being relatively inexpensive, fitting nicely in your bag and providing an image of up to 100 inches across. That’s what the ViewSonic M1 claims to offer, but can a great picture really be achieved from such a tiny unit? The M1 is a neat little device. A handle makes it easy to carry about, and it can also be used as a stand to prop the projector up. Uncover the lens and the M1 automatically bursts into life, which is a nice touch.
The buttons for menu navigation and volume are located on the back, but for the most part, you’ll be using the remote. It’s responsive, but works properly only when pointed directly at the front of the projector. The receiver for the remote is on the front of the M1, so if you’re sitting behind it, the projector has difficulty recognising your instructions.
The M1’s power cable is quite bulky, almost half the size of the projector itself, and doesn’t fit into the carry bag supplied. This loses the M1 some of its usefulness on the portability front. However, you shouldn’t need the power cable that often; the M1 boasts a claimed battery life of six hours — around three more than the LG Minibeam PH150G. ViewSonic also claims 30,000 hours of lamp life, so you shouldn’t need to replace it until you’ve watched The Lord Of The Rings trilogy at least 3,000 times. The ViewSonic also has more ports than many other portable projectors. As well as the HDMI 1.4 connection for Blu-ray and DVD players, it also has a MicroSD card slot, USB Type-A and Type-C. There’s also 16GB of on-board storage, which will hold around eight Full HD films.
With its 854 x 480 resolution, the M1 is either constantly downscaling or upscaling content, which could potentially affect the performance. The M1 also has a claimed 120,000:1 contrast ratio and a 250 lumen output. This is better than some rival portable projectors, but far from what the best budget domestic projectors, such as the Epson EH-TW5350, can offer. Like many portable projectors, while the M1’s image is acceptable in dark rooms, it has trouble handling subtleties in colour or insight in a given scene — and especially struggles in brighter conditions. It’s a vivid and rich picture full of bright colours, but those colours lack sophistication.
While the M1 brings up an acceptable amount of detail for casual viewing, there’s a distinct lack of texture. Any attempt to eke more out of the projector by tweaking the settings simply makes the image look unnaturally sharp and overprocessed.
While ViewSonic has partnered with Harman/Kardon for the speakers here, we’d recommend using the 3.5mm output to connect to a more powerful pair of speakers, but it’s a shame there isn’t built-in Bluetooth for a wireless connection.
The M1 has its plus points, but a few design faults and sacrifices mean that, while this projector will fulfil the needs of some, it won’t be topping our charts any time soon.