3M MPro-150 review

The nice guys over at 3M has sent us their latest pico projector for review, the MPro-150. This is 3M's third pico-projector and it features 640x480 resolution and 15 lumens (brightness). It has 1Gb of built-in memory and a micro-SD slot (it comes with a 2GB card) - from which it can display photos, videos and office documents. It can connect to a RCA, VGA or composite source, and it has two 0.5W speakers and an audio-out. The Mpro-150 is available for $346.

3M Mpro-150 front photo 3M Mpro-150 pico projector photo

What's in the box

The MPro-150 comes with two input cables (for RCA or VGA), a USB cable (for data transfer), a charger (with changeable sockets), a 2GB micro-SD, a pouch and a tripod. It also comes with a battery (yeah, you can remove the battery which is great because you can buy another one if you need).

Everything is very high quality: the projector itself, the pouch, the cables. It all feels good. But there are some things that I'm not happy with:

  • The manual is very very lacking. It explains how to connect the projector, charge it and what the buttons do. It does not explain how to use the internal memory at all! And this projector is not so simple: it can show office documents, movies, photos and more. It's amazing that they don't explain any of this - they do not even list the supported files (it's on the box cover though). There's also no technical details (resolution, lumens, etc.).
  • While the manual is tiny (7 pages long), they include a 127 pages (!) warranty and safety guide and a small IP rights and software license leaflet. This seems to be a huge waste of paper and weight to me. Come on 3M, you can do better.
  • The whole package is very not environmental friendly. So much plastic. But you better keep it, because the carton box has a large hole in it (which looks cool) so you can't keep anything inside without the plastic covers.

The MPro-150 pico projector

The MPro-150 is a good looking projector. The quality is great and it feels good in the hand. On the top part you have the control keys (on/off, control-wheel with 5 buttons and a 'back' (or cancel) button). On the right side you have the micro-SD slot, and on the back you have the A/V port (which also supports VGA input), audio-out, USB port and the DC in. On the bottom of the projector you can find a flip-down stand and the tripod hole.

The MPro-150 is a bit longer than the MPro-120, and in fact it's the largest pico-projector we tested. Here you can see it beside the MPro-120, the AAXA L1 and the Ray projector (and you can compare their features here).

3M Mpro-150 and AAXA L1 photo 3M Mpro-150 and MPro-120 photo 3M Mpro-150 vs the MPro-120, Ray projector and AAXA L1

The MPro-150 in use

Using the MPro-150 is easy, as long as you don't try to do anything fancy with the built-in player. Using an external source is simple (as in all pico-projector we tested). After using the AAXA L1 laser projector, fiddling with the focus wheel is annoying, but it's not too bad.

The images look very good on the MPro-150, colors are bright and correct. Obviously you need a dark room as it only has 15 lumens. But if you display small photos, then you'd be okay even if the room has some light in it. On all those photos, the projector was distanced at around 1.8 meters, and it produced an image that's around 54" in size.

3M Mpro-150 image: photo 3 3M Mpro-150 image: photo 2 3M Mpro-150 image: photo

The menu system is easy to use (even though there are no instructions). You can choose to displays presentations, documents, PDFs, photos or movies, or just browse all the files to choose the ones you want. You can also view your 'favorites' (last accessed) files. There are a few settings (how long each photo is displays for, whether to repeat music files or movies). The projector also includes a firmware upgrade option via the micro-SD card.

The projector can also play back presentations, excel and documents. Presentations look very good but if you want to display documents, then you're gonna have problems with small fonts - the 640x480 resolution is obviously an issue. You can zoom in and out which makes things better.

Watching a word document on the 3M Mpro-150 3M Mpro-150 image: an excel file

One disadvantage of the projector is the playback options. For example, if you're watching a movie, the only option you have is pause. You cannot choose a scene or jump ahead or back. The lack of controls is annoying in several places. If you're showing powerpoint files, for example, you can't click on an area, you can only advance the slides (or go back) or zoom.

After a few minutes of work, the fan kicks in which creates an annoying noise (not too strong though). The fan is good - the projector does not get hot at all. During my testing I dropped it from about 1m, and nothing happened.

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