It’s easy to get jaded with so many new gadgets passing through our test bench every week, but the Viewsonic M1 Pro made it impossible to not be intrigued. Sure, portable projectors aren’t new but then, the M1 Pro tackles the troubles of carrying your big picture with you differently.
Viewsonic M1 Pro review
The plonk-it-anywhere projector
The ultra-compact form factor is led by a unique 3-in-1 stand, It protects the lens as a cover when stowed away, but then it also acts like a kickstand when you swing it out and into action. It allows the projector to move around a 300-degree angle and also serves as an auto on/off actuator since there is no power button on the unit itself. Phew…talk about an overachieving piece of metal!
Dressed up in a light grey fabric that also conceals the Harman Kardon speaker, the M1 Pro is well built with ventilation slats on either side and also a focusing dial. Keystone is automatic and you do get four-corner adjustment for fine tuning the 100 inches of picture you can project. Under a flap are all the I/O ports, including HDMI, USB-A, two USB-C, 3.5mm and the power adapter plug.
A sizeable charging brick is included in the box, along with a carry case and the cables needed. Battery life is claimed to be 2 hours in Eco mode and in our tests, it actually managed a bit less, but you can keep it plugged in if you’re using it indoors. As a back-up plan, it’s nice to know that you can even power it up via a power bank.
vCastSender, the official Viewsonic app also allows you to use your smartphones display as a touchpad to navigate through the OS. It can come in handy if you happen to misplace the remote controller in the dark crevices of your backpack or couch, but otherwise the standard issue remote control works a lot better.
One of the most common foibles of portable projectors is the app store that’s included as part of the OS and unless it’s a Google TV or Android TV OS, the experience is typically lacklustre. The M1 Pro has a rudimentary app store with Netflix, MX Player, Spotify, Twitch amongst the known apps and a lot of obscure ones, but none of which provide the same level of refinement or speed as a Fire TV stick or USB-C connected smart device.
Capable of being used as a stand-alone Bluetooth speaker, only for audio, the M1 Pro does a good job at maintaining dialogue intelligibility, playing loud without distortion and even being a music speaker for background listening. You actually could watch a full-length movie through this projector without having to turn on the subtitles and that’s commendable.
While “only” 720p, the picture quality even on a not-so-white-anymore wall of my house was impressive. Colours with vivid without being oversaturated and the LED light source was bright enough to make it watchable even with curtains open in broad daylight. Keeping the LED in Eco mode does give you a little more battery life, but Normal mode gives you a much better dynamic range and is recommended if charge status isn’t a cause of anxiety.
Wi-Fi screen mirroring was buggy, with image dropouts and an extended pairing period that sometimes, just didn’t connect. No such issues with HDMI or USB-C though and is the best view to get going with the M1 Pro.
As far as portable projectors go, the M1 Pro is as versatile as they come, with only a couple of minor quirks. The lack of an Android OS and better battery life are the only real issues, otherwise, there is nothing here to deter you from picking it up for a picnic or presentations or just plain fun. It has the ability to turn any room into a virtual cinema, provided you have the wall for it. At 100in maximum image size, it won’t be as hyper-real as a Mini-LED TV, but at a fraction of the cost, the size of the picture does make a very strong case for it.
Innovative design that also packs in a punch when it comes to picture and sound quality.
|600 LED lumens
|Light source life:
|HDMI x 1, USB-C x 2, USB-A x 1, 3.5mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth