2D IMAGE QUALITY
Pico-projectors are years behind TVs and full-sized video projectors when it comes to picture quality. First of all, the resolution here is 854 x 480 pixels, which is equivalent to DVD quality. That can look fine over a small surface, but pixels rapidly become visible when you start to move the projector further away from the wall or screen.
Next, colour fidelity doesn't seem to be a priority in this kind of product. While most display-based devices—including smartphones—have made huge progress in the field, pico-projectors are still lagging behind. With the PicoPix 2480, for example, we measured an average Delta E of 17.8, whereas we'd expect to see a result of 3 or less for colour reproduction to be considered accurate. This makes the image look saturated, with faces that look too red, blues that look too blue, etc.
Even though the contrast has improved in this model, it's still too low, varying from 200:1 (test card with 35% white) to 400:1 (test card with 1% white) in relation to the image displayed.
Similarly, even if the PPX2480 displays brighter images than some of it competitors, it's still only really at ease in a pitch-dark room. In ideal conditions (i.e. total darkness), the image is nicely visible (162 x 91 cm) with the projector placed three metres from the wall or projection screen. However, as soon as you switch on the lights, you'll need to considerably reduce the size of the projected image (approx. 60 cm along the bottom edge) to keep the image sufficiently visible.
HARDWARE & HANDLING
The casing of the PicoPix 2480 hasn't changed much. It's still a little bulkier than many rival models, at 105 x 105 x 31.5 mm and 270 grammes. In comparison, the Optoma PK301 measures 120 x 70 x 30 mm and weighs 250 grammes.
A limited selection of connections can be found on the back of the projector. After spotting what we though was a mini-HDMI input, we tried hooking up a PlayStation 3 to the PicoPix 2480. However, it turns out that this isn't possible. This port can only be used to connect a device via VGA (adapter included) or an Apple mobile device (optional cable). This is actually a VGA port that looks suspiciously like an HDMI port, but which doesn't appear to accept HDMI input signals. Alternatively, the PicoPix PPX2480 has an analogue video input (bearing in mind that VGA is already an analogue connection) that can be hooked up to a composite video adapter (supplied).
To be honest, we have to say that we prefer the Optoma PK301 pico-projector with its genuine HDMI input.
The PPX2480 has a mini-USB port too, and comes with a mini-USB-to-USB adapter included so you can hook up an external storage device. Note that this USB port doesn't provide enough power to run a 2.5" external hard drive. You'll therefore need to use a USB flash drive or hard drive with an external power source. The good news, however, is that the media player supports NTFS-format drives. Plus, it can read a whole load of file formats—only ISO and WMV files aren't recognised. Otherwise, AVI, MP4, MKV, MOV, MTS and M2TS files using all kinds of codecs pose no problem at all, although different soundtracks (languages) and subtitles in the container aren't always supported. You may find yourself stuck with the original audio track and no way of changing it.
The PicoPix PPX2480 comes with a compact remote control. Its small size makes it handy for use on the move but it's also quite easy to lose.
NOISE & ENERGY CONSUMPTION
On standby (and not charging) this pico-projector uses hardly any power at all, drawing under 1 W. Once up and running, we measured power use at 18.4 W in standard mode and 8.4 W in "ECO" mode, which is pretty good. However, this isn't the quietest projector out there. The fan makes a high-pitched noise that can be quite unpleasant if you're right next to the projector.
Unfortunately, the 1 W built-in "sound bar" does nothing to mask the noise of the fan. Even if audio quality has improved compared with the previous model, we'd still recommend you use a separate pair of speakers if you really want to lose yourself in a movie.