Review

Published on February 3rd, 2016 | by Jugal Parekh

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Sony MP-CL1 mobile projector

Pico or portable mobile projector are met with scepticism from the main-stream crowd. However, hold on a minute – there is the Sony brand with the otherwise oddly named MP-CL1, and I believe this tiny marvel definitely deserves a serious look when out for your next leisure purchase.

What is it?

It is a short-throw, pocket sized mobile projector that can display a screen size of up to 120 inches (10 feet) at a distance of 3.45 m. The projector in itself is about the size of an iPhone 6s Plus (a little fatter), weighs around 200 g, and incorporates a built in speaker and a battery to last you about 120 minutes. It is able to project HD (1920 x 720 – not full HD) quality images with incredible colour and contrast. Connectivity with the projector is possible via a standard HDMI cable using a mini-HDMI adapter (supplied), or even wirelessly mirror your PC, smartphone, or tablet’s screen using Miracast.

short-throw, pocket sized mobile projector that can display a screen size of up to 120 inches

The difference to other Pico projectors is that Sony has used their own Laser Beam Scanning technology, which allows for focus-free projection, even on uneven surfaces. Another great feature is auto-focus, which means that the user can vary the distance to the screen and not need to constantly adjust the controls for a clear image.

Sony MP-CL1 mobile projector

Out of the box

Slick – Sony Slick! Remove the outer paper packaging, and you have a handy storage box, which you would definitely want to keep till you own the device. It neatly packs the projector, a HDMI convertor, a little stand, and a mini-USB cable. The box is so well-designed that it does not inconvenience at any time, whilst (un)packing and/or moving all the essentials.

Sony MP-CL1 mobile projector packaging

Setup is super-easy when connecting with HDMI cable – switch on the projector, and just switch the source using a toggle button. Voila, you have a perfectly clear image on any surface you project to – I was impressed that it worked in seconds without any adjustments whatsoever! Using Miracast is as easy – change the input on the projector, and your Miracast capable Android phone or the newer Windows PC should have no problem in finding it within seconds.

Slick – Sony Slick!

It also has a USB out for charging your phone with the in-built 3400mA battery, but I feel that space could have been better utilised for inbuilt storage possibly. Unless really desperate, you wouldn’t want to sacrifice your projection time of only 2 hours to charge your phone battery.

Mobile projector experience

I watched a TV show, and sampled a few movie trailers of different genres (action, dramedy, period drama, animation), and overall the colours and contrast are superb, although the same could not be said about the brightness. You would need to pull the curtains and darken the room for an ideal viewing pleasure. You would need to be The Flash to notice any lag (I did watch too many superhero movie trailers!), which was great for a mobile device running off a battery and projecting a 10 feet image, while auto-focusing to different conditions in nano-seconds. There was no lag while using either of the connectivity mediums. You can notice the quality difference between a 6 inch throw and when projecting a 120 inch screen. I found my optimum balance of quality and screen size to be between 45-60 inches. I have posted an unedited image I took of the Batman v. Superman movie trailer – used an iPhone 6 Plus in a dark room. The image doesn’t do complete justice but it gives you an indication of the quality.

overall the colours and contrast are superb

The speakers are not loud enough, period. Ideally, you would use the speakers off the source, or connect a speaker/ headphones via the Aux cable output. I would urge Sony to look at the audio aspect of their projector. It does kill the experience when you cringe to hear what that killer one-liner Deadpool joke was (don’t blame me – 2016 is filled with superhero movies!)! There are simple work-arounds, and hence, this short-coming does not kill the device. Also, you can give the benefit of doubt that this device was built for personal settings.

Actual image quality Sony MP-CL1

The little stand’s usefulness is debatable. It is perfect when used without any cables connecting to the projector, and when used on a solid surface. It allows to place the projector vertically or horizontally. However, it is not strong enough to withstand the pull of the cable, or large enough to sit properly on a soft surface. Thinking of user scenarios of this device, I found the stand lacking, and extremely easy to misplace. Possibly, they could have integrated a much larger kick stand in the projector’s body itself.

I love to kick back, and watch movies and TV shows in the evenings. I enjoyed watching the TV shows on the Sony projector, in the comfort of my bed, looking up to the ceiling. I would not replace the primary screen, especially for watching a graphic intense movie, but personally I found it perfect to catch a rerun, or just a casual and comfortable lie-in with your partner (Netflix is available in UAE btw). I also used it to mirror my android phone’s screen, and the experience was satisfying.

The unit did not get uncomfortably hot or loud. In fact, the fan noise was lower than that of the built-in speaker and that is saying something!

Should I buy it?

It is a very capable device, and minus its few quirks, it is a solid buy. This projector has so many ideal scenarios of use – at home as a secondary screen in your bedroom if you don’t want to waste space with a clunky television setup, students in their dorm rooms, or at workplace to share a screen with your colleagues. An entrepreneur can literally present an “elevator” pitch! It is a good device for using at your friend’s place to play the PS4.

An entrepreneur can literally present an “elevator” pitch!

The image quality is decent enough for the scenarios above, especially in low-light environments. The battery life is well set at 2 hours; equipping it with a micro-USB for charging is a big boon as you can plug those almost everywhere! The sound levels should have been higher, and integrating an on-board storage would have been a massive convenience play. This is a first generation device, and I would be harsh in expecting it to be absolutely perfect.

Here comes the big reveal – Sony MP-CL1 mobile projector is not available for purchase in the UAE due to local laser regulations (but it is not illegal to own one). It is available at Sony showrooms in all the other GCC countries (will be available in Oman soon), and is regulated to retail at US$ 399. That is a little bit pricier than  Amazon US (US$ 349). Would I consider buying it – a positive and definite yes; from where – now that’s the question!

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About the Author

Jugal Parekh is professionally involved with product & services design & development, with special focus on healthcare. He is passionate about information – whether technological, philosophical, or business related. Currently, his setup combines Apple’s hardware with Google’s cloud, oh, with Windows 7 on Parallels (for the mac).



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