An HD pocket projector that claims to be brighter (300 lumens), cheaper ($529) and lighter (635 grams) than its rivals? Hmm. Let me be the judge of that.
Though “palm top” projectors are ideal for the travelling PowerPoint jockey, they usually suck when it comes to brightness. Poor brightness means poor visibility, and this limits their use to darkened rooms. They tend to sit around the $600 mark, use a variety of projection technologies, and include choices like the:
- Acer K11 (200 lumens; around $600) - Viewsonic PLED-W200 (200 lumens; around $850) - LG HX300G (270 lumens; around $600) - Samsung SP-H03 (30 lumens; around $325)
You can also expect new and updated models come CES in January. I’ll also throw the Optoma ML500 (500 lumens, around $685) into the mix, though it’s slightly larger at 22cm-long.
For its part, the Qumi is about the size of a decent paperback novel: 16.2cm long by 10.2cm wide by 3.2cm high. The little unit feels pretty well built, and has light-up touch-sensitive controls on the polished topside (available in white or smudge-prone black).
Inside the box you’ll find a carry pouch and a bunch of cables: mini to standard HDMI, mini to mini HDMI, and a VGA adaptor. A VGA/component universal connection is optional, and you'll need to bring your own Apple iPad to VGA converter to the party. You do get the obligatory manual disc, remote control and power brick. A battery pack option is on the way. As you can see in the image above, the Qumi will also play back content from USB drives and microSD cards:
- Video: H.264, MPEG-4, VC-1, WMV9, DivX(Xvid), Real Video, AVS and MJPEG. - Audio: MP3 and WMA. - Photos: JPG, PNG and BMP - Office Doc Viewer: MS Office 2003 and 2007 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Adobe PDF and text files.
The Qumi uses Texas Instrument’s HD Pico DLP technology and the LED light source is rated for up to 30,000 hours of use. After that, well, it’s time for a new projector.
There’s no warm up/warm down (just flick the on switch and go), though on occasion, I did need to use the manual focus ring about 10 minutes after start-up. As expected, the Qumi has a locked throw ratio (1:55:1), and produces an image between 30 and 90-inches (between one and three metres away). Personally, I found the sweet spot to be right in the middle.
What We Like
I’m pretty impressed by the light levels produced by the Qumi -- even near a large window and under office lights. Text reproduction is damn sharp. If you were so inclined, you really could use this with a laptop as a monitor replacement on a daily basis; it supports computer resolutions up to 1600x1200. Suprising blacks and colours (for a pocket projector at least), quiet operation and 720p support also make this a viable option for movie nights at home.
What We Don’t Like
I’ve a collection of minor niggles. The warm-up focus thing is irritating. The remote could be more responsive. The bundled HDMI to mini HDMI cable is super short.
Then there’s the “3D ready” nature of this projector (via DLP-link support). Sure, it’s nice to have (and 300 lumens could arguably be bright enough to lose up to 50 per cent brightness when viewed through 3D glasses) but how usable would it be? I honestly didn’t test it. Mostly because 3D output is contingent on you having a 3D capable PC/laptop and 3D shutter glasses. See Vivitek’s info PDF for more on that (including supported resolutions). Again, the majority may not even use this feature.
I’ll admit I was sceptical, but I’ve come away pretty impressed. The Qumi is my temporary second monitor right now (at least until this review unit ships back this week) so let me know if you’ve any questions.