Viewsonic M1 Mini Review: A Pico Projector That Fits in Your Pocket

Evaluation:
5/10
?

1 – Absolute hot garbage
2 – Sorta warm garbage
3 – Strongly imperfect design
4 – A few advantages, many disadvantages
5 – Acceptably imperfect
6 – Good enough to buy on sale
7 – Excellent, but not the best in its class
8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
9 – shut up and take my money
10 – Absolute Conception Nirvana

Price: $ 150

Projector with closed lens cover.Viewsonic

Want a big screen TV, but don’t have the room or budget for a TV? M1 Mini by Viewsonic is a small pico projector that literally fits in your pocket and can project a large image in a dark room. It lacks some of the features of its big brother, the M1 +, but at $ 150, it’s also less than half the price.

This is what we like

Tiny – fits in your pocket
Comes with three tops in different colors
Good sound
Affordable

And what we don’t do

The resolution is only 854 x 480
Need to use in dark room
No wall charger / power supply included
No tripod mount
Battery is good for up to 2.5 hours

Wait! Is that a projector in your pocket?

Pico projectors – small portable video projectors – were popular a decade ago. Then they kind of disappeared for a while, and are now experiencing a rebirth. The Viewsonic M1 Mini, the M1 +’s little brother we saw a short time ago, is the newest addition to the Viewsonic family of projectors.

In some ways, the M1 Mini is similar to the larger and brighter M1 +, but it’s not just a shrunken version of the more expensive pico-projector. For less money, you get less features and less flexibility. But for many, that won’t be a deciding factor.

When Viewsonic named the spotlight, it hit the nail on the head. The M1 Mini is really a very compact unit, measuring just four square inches and one inch high. The top of the projector has a pop-off color panel that allows you to swap out the teal panel that the projector has out of the box with a gray or yellow panel included in the box. I’m not sure why they did this, it looks like putting lipstick on a pig (with my apologies to Miss Piggy). The other acknowledgments look pretty, they seem a bit unnecessary, as they do nothing more than change the color of the top of the projector.

Inside the case is a 50 lumen LED light source, a good battery for up to 2.5 hours of playing time and a really nice sounding 2 watt JBL speaker. You’re not going to blow up the neighbors if you’re having an outdoor movie night, but in an indoor room it sounds good.

A hinged lens cover doubles as a stand for the projector and, like its big brother, can be lifted up to provide a convenient carrying handle. Unfortunately, the bottom of the projector lacks the tripod mount offered by the M1 +, a feature that was sorely lacking. Using a tripod allows you to easily position the projector at a 90 degree angle to the projection surface. With the M1 Mini, you have to find a way to elevate the projector so that the image does not appear level with the ground or is unreasonably distorted. The vertical keystone capability is nice, but it still won’t compensate for an image that’s too distorted due to the angle between the projector and the image surface.

Here a port, there a port

With the M1 Mini so compact, there isn’t much room for sockets or operating controls. The front of the projector contains only the lens – the manual focus dial is accessible from the right side of the projector (looking from the front). You will need to focus the image according to the distance between the M1 Mini and the surface you are projecting onto. The projector has automatic vertical keystone distortion correction, which is good because there will be times when you cannot position the projector exactly perpendicular to the surface.

Image showing USB portsThe right side contains micro USB and USB-A ports.

The rear panel contains a small slide switch to turn the projector on and off. Unlike the M1 +, moving the stand up or down does not control the power, so you have to be careful not to forget to turn off the projector when you are done watching, otherwise the stand may block the unit’s cooling vent.

The ports are distributed between the left and right side panels. Looking from the front, the right side panel contains two ports. Both are USB ports, one being a micro USB and the other a USB Type A. You can input video from either, or from the HDMI port on the left panel. . The micro USB port doubles as a power port, and Viewsonic provides a USB-to-micro cable. However, it does not provide food for wall warts. You will need to provide it yourself. You can input video from the USB Type A port while you charge the projector using the micro USB port, but using the micro USB port for video means you better have a charged battery because it cannot be used for both charging and input video simultaneously.

Image showing the HDMI input on the left side of the projector.The left side has an HDMI input.

For my testing, I used video from a number of sources including flash drive, Amazon Fire TV stick, USB DVD drive, and laptop, with no issues playing videos from the one of those sources. Another test was to connect the M1 Mini to a laptop HDMI video output and project the laptop screen. Again, no problem other than the brightness of the image.

As with other pico projectors that I have tested, I projected the image at a distance of about eight feet from a large piece of white foam board, and also tested the projection against a painted wall. in light blue. The difference in image brightness was immediately noticeable, with the image projected on the wall noticeably darker but still acceptable in a completely dark room. At a distance of eight feet, the picture was about the same size you would have on a 32-inch TV.

Not too bright

The M1 Mini can actually project an image as large as 100 inches. Keep in mind, however, that the larger the image you are projecting, the less bright the image will appear. You can blame physics Inverse square law for that. Light output also contributes to the lack of brightness. Viewsonic rates this at 120 lumens, but in ANSI measurements the output is 50 lumens. It’s just not very bright and if you’re projecting onto a dark surface, the image is almost unrecognizable.

This raises two other points to consider. The first is mentioned above – even a moderate amount of light in the room will completely erase the image. The other concern is the surface you are projecting onto. While white, like a white wall or sheet, is preferable for the best image, I got an acceptable image projected onto a light blue wall with no noticeable color distortion in the projected material. The limited optical resolution of just 854 × 480 also reduces the sharpness and clarity of the image on higher resolution source material.

Not quite perfect

Man lying on pillow with small projector next to hiom on floorViewsonic

I like the M1 Mini, but there are a number of places where it falls short of the M1 +. The most notable are the image brightness and resolution.

I’m also not very happy with the short 2.5 hour battery life, especially with many films now approaching or exceeding that length. If you’re planning on projecting Avengers: Endgame, you’d better have a battery or an AC outlet handy, which defeats the very purpose of having a projector with so much portability. Even with an AC outlet nearby, you will need a wall wart as Viewsonic does not include power with the projector.

The source of your video material is also an issue, especially if you are looking outside. Unless you want to use an AC extension cord for a laptop or Fire TV Stick / Roku, you’ll likely be limited to video on a flash drive or battery-powered device, such as a phone or tablet that uses an adapter. , between the device and the projector.

Finally, I really miss the tripod mount of the bigger and more powerful M1 +. The M1 Mini’s flip-up lens cover / mount does not give you the flexibility of being able to mount the M1Mini at a height of 90 degrees from the surface you are projecting the image on. This is compensated somewhat by the automatic correction of the projector vertical keystone distortion, but there is so much that the correction can do to correct a large horizontal angle variance between the projector and the viewing surface.

All of this does not mean that the M1 Mini is not worth considering. But think carefully about what, where and how it would be used. It’s a cute and inexpensive projector, but for many it will make more sense to spend more money and get more flexibility and usability.

This is what we like

Tiny – fits in your pocket
Comes with three tops in different colors
Good sound
Affordable

And what we don’t do

The resolution is only 854 x 480
Need to use in dark room
No wall charger / power supply included
No tripod mount
Battery is good for up to 2.5 hours

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