3M is back on the scene with a new pico-projector, the MP410. This pint-sized projector measures 10.5 x 10.5 x 4.3 cm and weighs just 386 g. It uses a Texas Instruments DLP chip, boasts 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and uses a 300 lumen LED lamp.
HARDWARE & HANDLING
The MP410 is a compact mini-projector that fits easily into one hand. The general product finish is good.
A decent choice of connections can be found on the back of this projector, with an HDMI socket, a proprietary port for connecting to a computer (via VGA), as well as a USB port and a micro-SDHC card reader (maximum 32 GB).
You can access multimedia files directly via a USB storage peripheral or a compatible memory card. This projector also has a 1 GB internal memory. The MP410 is compatible with loads of file formats for fuss-free access to videos (AVI, DivX, MKV, MOV), music (MP3, WMA) and photos (JPEG, BMP). However, it can only read lower-resolution content properly, as HD videos judder and glitch. Similarly, it doesn't support Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
We were particularly disappointed with the single, super-small 1-watt speaker. You need to push the volume up to its maximum setting to hear just about anything, which in turn makes the speaker saturate, which doesn't sound very nice. And the worst news is that there's no audio jack, so you can't even get round things by hooking up an external stereo speaker kit!
Seeing as it sells for around £500, you'd probably expect this projector to come with all the basic accessories. But no, the remote control sells as an optional extra at £25!
You therefore have no choice but to use the buttons on the projector casing: "Power", "Menu", arrow keys and "OK". You focus the image manually using the control just above the lens.
2D IMAGE QUALITY
Once we switched the projector on and focused the picture, we were again disappointed with the MP410.
Contrast measured with a 35% white test card
Contrast measured with a 1% white test card
Positioned three meters from our projection wall (like all the video projectors we test), the bottom edge of the image measures 1 metre 90 centimetres, which is pretty good for this kind of projector. However, the image looks washed out, which is understandable given this projector's ridiculously low contrast. We measured contrast at 81:1 with our 1% white test card and 27:1 with the 35% white card. That's by far the lowest contrast we've seen in any of the projectors we've reviewed.
Crazy colours: average Delta E = 14.7
When it comes to reproducing colours, the correctly calibrated colour temperature is the MP410's only saving grace. We measured an average of 6960 kelvins over the grey scale, which is pretty good. However, colour fidelity leaves a lot to be desired. We measured the average Delta E at 14.7 (this should be three or less for accurate colours), which places this projector on par with the worst laptop screens (Samsung NC110 and NC210).
The gamma is all over the place too (it averages at 1.2 when it should be 2.2), which makes the grey scale too light.
Seeing as this is a DLP projector, some users may find themselves troubled by "rainbow effects". And LED technology unfortunately doesn't do anything to reduce this. Some users will notice this more than others, but if it bothers you then you may need to look elsewhere.
For watching a movie, quality is just about OK. The 1280 x 800 pixel resolution means you can't watch HD content like Blu-rays in native resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). Some image quality is therefore lost as a result. The upscaling function for low-res content isn't up to much either—everything just looks a bit hazy.
NOISE & ENERGY CONSUMPTION
On top of its disappointing image quality, the MP410 is actually quite noisy. We measured just under 40 dB with the MP410 in action, which is too loud to be completely masked by the puny 1-watt speaker.
Power use is pretty low, however. We measured just 49 watts with the MP410 in use.