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Is that a data projector in your pocket?


Simon Hurst reviews the natty little new mini projector from 3M. The size of a mobile phone, it has the 'wow' factor, and together with a netbook makes presentations truly portable.

I’ve been using data projectors for presentations and training for almost 20 years now. Still lurking somewhere in my loft I have a large suitcase containing an LCD panel designed to connect to a computer and sit on top of an overhead projector – as I remember, it had a resolution of 640x480 and a light output that would just about cope with a very bright OHP and a reasonably dim room. From there I quickly moved on to one-piece data-projectors. Over the years these have improved dramatically – now bright enough to project very large images in pretty bright rooms and having reduced in size from substantial suitcase to small briefcase.

Even taking the previous reductions in size into account, I was amazed when I heard about the latest development – a data projector the size of a mobile phone. The model I was lucky enough to get to review for a few days was the 3M MPro 110 MicroProjector.

Photo of SIMON HURST"Much more comfortable than crowding round a notebook screen and worth quite a lot in terms of surprise and impact"

First of all, let's deal with what the MicroProjector won’t to. It won't give a big enough or large enough image to conduct a prolonged software training course or presentation for a large group in a bright room. Its limited native resolution also means that it would be less than ideal for displaying the detail of a complex modern software application for a prolonged period. However, the accompanying literature makes it pretty clear that this is not what it is intended to do. Instead, it is designed to cope with impromptu presentations to small groups.

As long as there is a blank wall available, it would take a couple of minutes to take the MicroProjector out of your pocket, connect it to a notebook computer and be projecting your PowerPoint presentation at up to 50 inch diagonal image size (as long as the room was fairly dark). Much more comfortable than crowding round a notebook screen and worth quite a lot in terms of surprise and impact. It would also make an ideal partner for one of the latest 'netbook' computers – allowing a complete presentation setup to be carried around in a small briefcase or even some rather large pockets.

To cover the technical details, the MicroProjector can run on mains power or, alternatively, its built-in rechargeable battery gives up to an hour of use. The native resolution is 640x480 but it will scale from resolutions up to 1368x768. To project a 40 inch diagonal image, the projector will need to be just under 6 feet from the wall. There is a VGA input for connection to a computer and a video input to allow the projector to be connected to a video source such as a video MP3 player, portable DVD player or games console. It also has a particularly useful tripod socket. In conjunction with something like a 'Gorillapod' this would provide a very quick, flexible and steady base for the projector. Cost is a few pounds below £300 including VAT.

As the promotional literature states, the MicroProjector can also be used for 'fun'. The next time you're stricken with a slight cold, no need to go to the effort of sitting up in bed to watch your selection of favourite comfort DVDs, you just need to attach the projector to the bed headboard, point it at the ceiling, connect it to your DVD player and lie back…

Simon Hurst is proprietor of the IT consultancy The Knowledge Base. He lectures and trains on IT subjects to financial and other professionals.For more information go to The Knowledge Base website or The Knowledge Base blog

To read Simon Hurst's features on, click on the following titles:

How to: Equip yourself as a home-based IT trainer

Training on IT: Put yourself in the user's shoes

How to: Add animations to your electronic training materials


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