I didn't know shopping for a portable projector could be such a challenging and time consuming experience. Main reason for this was lack of understating projectors and all the features they may or may not have. But often don't need an understanding of a technology or category of products until there is a need for one. Of course in this day of age finding information about products and reviews is easy. But this takes up a lot of time. Even then when there are vast variety of options are available, chances are purchase will be done online and brick and mortars won't have all options available to see the physical product and its capabilities before buying.
It is great to have many options for certain product we would want to buy. It creates competition, brings prices down, and improves quality of the products. It also makes choosing one product more difficult. You may like one product at one moment, then you like another one, then another one. It complicates a simple decision making process.
Online shopping is norm today, but it wasn't a long ago that online shopping didn't even exist. Online shopping is great. It is more convenient, it provides more options, and often products are cheaper than buying at a store. But it has problems too. It takes days or weeks to receive the purchased item. Depending on the merchant and how it was shipping we are not always sure what we are getting. But most importantly we don't get to see the physical product before buying. Nowadays, even at brick and mortars it may not be possible to see the demo of how the product works or have an expert opinion as well. I guess it would vary from store to store and what kind of product we are looking for.
It all started with a need for a portable projector. Quick search online showed an interesting product Kodak Luma, a small portable projector size of a smartphone and a cool design. I didn't need a projector for an everyday use. Then as I scrolled through other search results, there many more options. It quickly became clear I had to create a list of criteria to go with. Otherwise it would endless time.
Here is the criteria I came up with:
- It will be used for travels.
- It has to be small and can be carried by one hand.
- It shouldn't take up too much space.
- It must have built-in battery.
- It should have decent picture in day-lit room.
- It should have speakers.
- It should have wi-fi connection and screen casting from a phone.
- It can be used with zero wires.
- Price should be under $500.
Basically, it can be used on the go when needed with little effort setting it up. Since it would only be used occasionally, maybe twice a month or so, spending too much money on a super quality projector wouldn't justify the purchase. While I expected the price to be in the range of $200-$500, I was ready to spend more if I really liked the projector and other options weren't as good.
With these criteria and expectations I started my search for the product, paying close attentions to customer reviews and watching product review videos. I saw reviews for at least a dozen of portable projectors. The ones in the image above I had serious consideration to purchase.
Kodak Luma has a great design, and is the smallest projector I saw. The problem I saw with Kodak Luma immediately was that it too had multiple options. There was Kodak Luma 150, Kodak Luma 350, Kodak Luma 450, etc. It seemed it had to do with the quality of the images and brightness. I just didn't like the fact that they had so many options. I was expecting just one Kodak Luma with a decent quality. So I had to keep looking.
Next one I noticed was Viewsonic M1+. This one was a little bit bigger than Kodak Luma, but had a better design. It had a built folding stand, really good speakers, battery lasted longer. I watched a review of three projectors: Viewsonmic M1+, Kodak Luma, and one more that can't remember the name of. Viewsonic M1+ was the best. It seemed I found the one I wanted to buy. Just before doing so, I came across AAXA P7.
The picture and brightness of this projector was just great. Any review, video, or comparisons I see kept showing AAXA P7 having great quality. But it had one problem. This problem wasn't even in my initial criteria list. It was too noisy. I saw several reviews stating the same over and over. Too noisy. I added noise to the criteria list and continued the search.
Since AAXA had good quality portable projector, I thought maybe they have something with the same quality but without noise. I found AAXA M7. This is a little bigger than P7 but better quality too. Unfortunately, it also had noise issues. At this point I absolutely did not want to have a noisy projector. I am ok to go with less quality, but no noise please. Search continues.
Next I found Piqo. It is small, design looks good. But I wasn't sure about the quality. By this time I have learned a little bit more about projectors and how the brightness is measures, and how some companies use deceptive numbers to sell their products misrepresenting their brightness in lumens. What I didn't like about Piqo is their website. It looked like an advertisement site. I started questioning what they were claiming about this product. It looked too good to be true. I don't know if my suspicions are true or not, I just didn't feel comfortable going with this product. Especially for its high price.
I started looking at Viewsonic M1+ again. It was released a couple of years ago, so I thought there must be a newer version. Indeed, there was. I found Viewsonic M2. I watched a full review video. Everything was great. A little bigger than other portable projectors, but still small enough. Has great speakers. Full HD 1080p native resolution. Amazing colors. Easy screen mirroring. It was a little over budget with a price tag of $700. But this was it. I really liked the projector and was ready to buy. One last final check before buying revealed it didn't have built-in battery. Oh no!
Really? All the previous versions had built-in batteries, but this better version doesn't have it. What a disappointment. I was ready to go over budget, but having no battery made me scratch this projector off the list as well. Now what? So many hours spent reading reviews, watching reviews, researching and end result I had no clue what I would be buying.
After some consideration I figured, maybe I will not go for the best product, but buy an average but decent one for about $300. I decided to go with Viewsonic M1+. I didn't hesitate anymore and ordered the projector. After placing the order I realized that I bought Viewsonic M1, and not M1+. I thought it was just listing error in the name, because the images looked identical. Well, even all that research didn't show me that M1 and M1+ were two different products. They had all the same feature, but one didn't have wifi capability and smartphone screen casting. Well, that didn't work out as planned either. I immediately cancelled the order.
Then, determined to buy M1+, I placed a new order from a different merchant/platform. This time everything seemed to go through smooth. Except after three days, my order got cancelled because the product was out of stock. I guess this is not happening, I thought. I had to try one last time. I placed the third order again from a different merchant/platform. I haven't heard anything yet. Hopefully, order went through without any issued and the projector will be delivered on time. At this point I am not expecting anything. If this one somehow goes wrong too, I think I am done buying projectors. lol.
In conclusion, there are so many use cases for portable projectors. They can be used for watching movies, playing video games, presentations, educations, collaborating with teams, or even as an additional monitor. Use for any individual will be different and everyone should consider what they will be using the projector for before buying. Based on that we can decide on all the features that projector must have. It is also important to understand how ANSI is calculated to determine brightness of the projector, and not trust lumen numbers advertised. There are so many options out there. Usually it is good to have many options to choose from. In my experience though it just created a little bit frustrating experience. But overall it was positive experience. I know a little bit more about projectors. Next time I am in the market for one, I will know what to consider.
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