Optoma ML1500 DLP Projector Review

Optoma LogoThe Optoma ML1500 DLP Projector is a stylish ultra mobile LED projector which pretty much does it all in a very neat little package with a good complement of ports, connections and fun tricks. Let’s take a look.

Optoma Front

Measuring just 27 x 17 x 4.5 cm and weighing only 1.4 kg, the ML1500 is very portable and comes with a neoprene carrying case. As you’ll see from the photos, the projector is attractively styled, with the ports on the back and a touchpad on the top. The touchpad can be used to operate the built-in menus to control the ML1500 and there is also a supplied remote control for when changes need to be made from afar. On the bottom, a third leg can be screwed in and out to adjust the angle, and a standard photo mount allows the projector to be hung from above. Finally, a lever on the side controls the focus.

Optoma ML1500 Rear

Round the back there is a plethora of connections, with composite video, HDMI and VGA connectors, 3.5mm jacks for audio and microUSB, USB and SD card slots. Connect up the ML1500 to a PC or laptop and it appears as an Optoma WXGA (1280×800) monitor and with suitable OS, you can do the usual tricks of either reproducing the current desktop or extending the desktop to the ML1500’s display. Locking onto the VGA signal took a second or two, but nothing out of the ordinary. The small size of the projector meant that I could keep it on my desk and if I needed to have an impromptu team meeting that needed something shown, I could quickly turn the ML1500 onto a nearby wall, rather than everyone huddle round a monitor.

Optoma ML1500 Remote ControlOn the fun side, the ML1500 makes a good partner to mini media streamers like the Roku Streaming Stick or Chromecast. The stick can be plugged into the ML1500’s HDMI sockets and power pulled from an adjacent USB socket. All set and good to watch Netflix or other streaming service with minimum of fuss.

The ML1500 does a few other tricks up its sleeve (or USB port as the case may be). First of all, the projector has a built-in media player and office document viewer that will show films, play music and display Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF files directly from either an SD card or USB memory stick. I didn’t deliberately try to break the viewer but the ML1500 managed to cope with all the Office documents that I threw at it. It’s relatively easy to navigate round the documents and zoom in or out with the remote control. The on-screen menus are easy to navigate with large friendly icons showing the way.

Playing movies is cool too, with the ML1500 handling mp4, avi and mov format files (though I didn’t confirm the codecs inside each). The presentation is good with the projector keeping up with the action and the picture is fine in unlit room – it doesn’t need to be darkened. Obviously you can have a pretty big screen if you want – I watched a couple of films and really got into the cinematic feel of things. Colours were good and sound is ok – it’s not hifi but you can connect up via a 3.5 mm jack if you want more oomph.

Optoma WiFi DongleNext on the list of clever things is the USB wifi dongle which plugs into the ML1500. Once connected to the “Optoma Display” wireless network, you can use an app on your smartphone or tablet to play presentations and display media. I used WiFi-Doc on Android and the app is available for iPhone and iPad too. It’s easy to use – select what you want to show and it’ll be shown by the ML1500. You can zoom in and out of photos and documents, and about a second later, the projector will update to show the change. Here’s the app showing a photo of the house that Mel Gibson used while filming Braveheart. The app wasn’t quite as good as the built-in player when it came showing office files as a couple of pdfs had missing images.WiFi-Doc App

A final nifty feature was auto-keystone correction, where the ML1500 automatically adjusts the projection to account for the angle of the projector, which means that the picture on the screen is always rectangular and not fatter at the top than the bottom.

One minor niggle is that adjusting the focus has to be done manually and it can’t be corrected using the remote control. Not a big deal in most circumstances but could be an issue if the projector was mounted high up.

Although I’m not a projector expert, I enjoyed putting the ML1500 through its paces. Its comprehensive ports and built-in media player make it a good choice for both business and pleasure, and for those on the move, the low weight and PC-free capabilities, are attractive. I think it’s priced about right too at under £700.

Thanks to Optoma for the review unit.

QisDesign Designer Lighting from BenQ

QisDesignBenQ aren’t really known for their designer lighting but this is what Bob Wudeck brought along to Don and Todd at CES. BenQ has a range of about forty different lights and lamps sold under the QisDesign brand, and on show is a beautiful flexible table LED lamp. Inspired by the human spine, the Hatha LED table lamp won a series of design awards, including a Red Dot Design Award in 2012. It’s definitely designer lighting with a ticket of price of $450 and this is one of the cheaper ones!

BenQMore ordinarily for CES, Bob also brought along a BenQ GP20 projector. This 700 lumen HD projector is designed for cord-cutters and watching video rather than execs and Powerpoint slides. The HDMI input is ideal for connecting up a Roku for Netflix viewing and it’s quite portable at only 22 x 62 x 18 cm. Bob says in the video that it’s only 720p, but the specs at BenQ say 1080p; worth clarifying before shelling out around $700. It’s a nice little unit.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Omnimount PJT40 Projector Mount

Omnimount LogoIf you want to hang or support some piece of technology from a wall or ceiling, then Omnimount ought to be on your review list as they have a portfolio of mounts and brackets that will do the job for flat screen TVs, speakers and projectors. Todd and Don chat with Kevin Paulson, who has the latest ceiling mount, the PJT40, for digital projectors. They also discuss the merits of desks that go up and down to facilitate standing at work. Really.

The new PJT40 is a universal projector mount that offers easy one person installation and tool-less microadjustment in the pitch and roll axes, making it simple to get a perfect image in your home cinema. The PJT40 will be on sale in February priced at US$179, which Don thinks is a bargain. Omnimount products are available AV dealers throughout the US and there’s more information at www.omnimount.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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3M MP300 Mobile MHL Projector

3M If you are a business traveler or maybe an app developer, and you want to show off your app or device to a client. They like what they see and they want to show to their partner, pretty soon you are passing your iPad or iPhone around a circle, which can get awkward after a while. 3M is offering a new solution a mobile projector, the 3M MP300 Mobile Projector.

This mobile projector is a sixty lumens projector and can project up to eighty inches in diameter. It will mirror your device instantly. It is a plug and play projector. It will work with a regular HDMI cord and also a HD-MHL device. With the MHL cord and a MHL capable device you can project an image and charge your phone or tablet at the same time. Many Android products especially those made by Samsung are MHL enable. This 3M projector is the only mobile projector with this capability.

The 3M MP300 Mobile Projector is available for around $250 on Amazon and at various retail locations. If you need a small mobile projector to carry with you and you have MHL compatible devices then the 3M MP300 Mobile Projector maybe the device for you.

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3M’s Personal Projectors at The Gadget Show

3M LogoPowerpoint and data projectors have become synonymous with business presentations and I dread to think how many people I have bored over the years. As with almost any technology, the data projectors have got smaller and cheaper, but this was the first time I’d seen how small personal projectors had become. As you can see from the photograph, most would actually fit in a (large) pocket.

3M Pocket Projectors

3M have a range of seven projectors, of which four were on show at The Gadget Show. Unsurprisingly, the different models have different capabilities and there’s more product information here (not all the new models are on the site yet), but I was genuinely impressed by how good the pictures were. The NEC is not a darkened room and yet it was easy to see the presentation or film that was being projected.

As you’d expect the different models have different features; battery size, wireless connectivity, in-built memory and a new model, the MP220, runs Android (it’s the one on the left side of the photograph). I chat with Peter from 3M about the new additions to the range.

Epson’s BrightLink 455Wi-T

BrightLink-455Wi-TOn Sept 7th Epson released the BrightLink 455Wi-T a high performance projector and table mount. It is being produce for Copernicus Education Products and it turns any tabletop into an interactive learning area. The area can be up to 60 inches in diagonal. There is also a pen that goes with it which will allow students and others to collaborate on projects and lessons. Because the BrightLink 45Wi-T is flexible you can use it on any flat surface including walls, whiteboards, and tabletops of various sizes. It will also work with widescreen notebooks and visual content. It has a light that produces approximately 2,500 lumens color and white light output. It has a native WXGA resolution of 16:10 aspect ratio.
BrightLink-455Wi-T

Back of BrightLink-455Wi-T
The Epson BrightLink 455Wi-T is currently available for an estimated street price of $2,199 through select dealers on a state-by-state basis. If you are a member of Bright-future the price is $1,699. Bright Future is a program created specifically for educators with special pricing and support including dedicated account managers, extended Epson limited warranty coverage for three years and a toll-free technical support number. Those who already have a BrightLink 455Wi can purchase the table mount for $189. Bright Futures members can get it for $129.00.

Epson is a global imaging and innovation leader dedicated to exceeding the vision of customers worldwide through its compact, energy-saving, high-precision technologies, with a wide lineup ranging from printers and 3LCD projectors for business and the home, to electronic and crystal devices. The BrightLink-455Wi-T is the latest in a long line of innovative products developed by Epson. If I was an educator or student the BrightLink-455-T is something I would want for my classroom.

Vivitek: 3D Pico Projector

Todd Cochrane spoke to Christopher Yang from Vivitek about their newest product the Qumi that uses the Pico Projector. The system can project 3D, which you can watch with active 3D glasses, or 2D up to 720P. It uses the Texas Instrument DLP processor with an HD chip set. A full projector with an LED bulb will give off from 800-1000 lumens.

This projector gives off 300 lumens and has a 2500:1 contrast ratio. It is not meant to replace a full projector, it is a great travel projector. It has a VGA, HDMI Connections, USB port, micro SD Card Input and audio-out. You can connect it to a camera, smart phone or laptop. It should be available in April or May time frame for about $499.00

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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MiSee TX Computer In A Box

Scott Elliot talks with Charlie of CTX Technologies. Charlie demonstrates a prototype concept computer that has a functional projected virtual laser keyboard and a pico projected screen.

The technology will be shrunk down for use in smart phones and tablets.

Interview by Scott Elliot of Geek News Central.

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Casio Laser and LED Hybrid Projector

One of the problem with todays projection technology is the trade-off between the brightness of the lamp and the use of mercury. Most projectors today use lamps that contain mercury) They produce very bright lights and are great for use in presentations, classroom uses, and home entertainment. However the trade-off is the bulb doesn’t last very long and has to replaced fairly often. There are two problems with this is first the financial cost and the second is the environment cost. Mercury if not disposed of correctly is highly toxic to both the environment and humans. Plus replacing bulbs all the time can get expensive.

Casio Laser and LED Hybrid Light engine has been created to replace the mercury lamp used in data projectors. It is rugged and bright. Previous to this there has always been a trade off between brightness and being environmentally responsible. Mercury lamps are very bright, but have to be changed out often and can damage the environment if not disposed of properly. The new Casio Laser and LED Hybrid combine the blue laser light and a flourescent element to produce a green light. These are combined along with the red light emitted by the LED, than projected thru the DLP chip and finally passed through the projection lens to form the image. This technology has a greater color spectrum then mercury lights. It will lowering the total cost of the projector over time. The estimated saving over 6,000 hours of service is $800. With 5 hours a day of service expected live span of this technology is up to 10 years.

When originally introduced at CES’s 2010 the Casio’s Laser & Light engine could produce up to 2500 lumens, after a year of improvement the new GREEN SLIM models have increased brightness up to 3,000 lumens. The GREEN SLIM line has achieved up to 50 percent increase in Color spectrum compared to mercury-lamp projectors. It also has the Instant Off capability which means no cool down time. Frank Romeo vice-president of Casio Business Projector Division stated that “This technology delivers lower cost of ownership and environmental benefit with no compromise in image quality.”