3M MPro120

3M's MPro120 delivers bright, high-quality images. Measuring just 0.9 by 2.4 by 4.7 inches, the 5.6-ounce MPro120 isn't much bigger than a thick candy bar, and it fits into a pocket just as easily.

Though it has the same basic design as its predecessor, the MPro110, this version has a sharply higher brightness rating (12 lumens, versus 8 lumens for the MPro110), a better battery-life spec (2 to 4 hours, up from 90 minutes), and a longer warranty (one year instead of 90 days). Most significantly, the MPro120 comes equipped with 3M's newest LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) projection engine, the MM200, which delivers higher-quality images than the earlier MM100 LCoS engine could.

In our tests at a distance of 3 feet from the screen, the MPro120 displayed very viewable 640-by-480 resolution images at sizes of up to 28 inches diagonally in a room with low ambient daylight. Like other pico projectors, the MPro120 isn't designed to replace a conference-room projector, but it is powerful enough for to handle presentations to small audiences (one to five people) under low light conditions. In a darkened room at night, the MPro120 successfully displayed a 60-inch-diagonal image when positioned 6 feet from the screen, making it even more useful as an after-hours entertainment device.

In our performance tests, the MPro120 earned a rating of Superior for its image quality. Of the pico projectors we tested, it was the best at reproducing accurate color hues, free of oversaturation. In displaying graphics, the MPro120 excelled at capturing fine details in light and dark areas of various images. It also surpassed most of its rivals in its crisp text rendering of PowerPoint slides and other text images. In motion tests, the MPro 120 displayed pleasing color and smooth action in our Monsters vs. Aliens DVD screening, as well as in podcasts and other videos when connected to an iPod or an iPhone.

On a critical note, we noticed that that the MPro120 slightly overscans (that is, crops out) the edges of various images; but in use, we didn't find this to be a major problem. Since the MPro120's sound (dual 0.5-watt speakers) isn't very powerful, you may want to use headphones or separate speakers to obtain better audio.

The MPro120's streamlined design makes it a breeze to use. The controls on top for power, brightness ('normal' or 'eco' mode), and volume are readily accessible. In front, a focus wheel for the projector's lens is well-positioned and easy to adjust. The bundled 4.5-inch flexible tripod is convenient, too.

The power input and a dual VGA-A/V input are located at the rear of the unit, and the included cables are long enough to give you flexibility in positioning the projector in tandem with a laptop or other input source. The bundled composite (RCA-type) A/V cable worked fine with our digital camera and DVD player, but we had to use a third-party cable to hook up the MPro120 to an iPhone 3GS and a fifth-generation iPod nano for other tests. The MPro120 is a pass-through projector, meaning that it requires an external device for its video content; some pico projectors come equipped with built-in memory, media players, or card readers that enable them to work as stand-alone devices.

Macworld buying advice

All in all, the MPro120 is a solid performer with excellent image quality, outstanding battery life, and easy-to-use features.

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