3M Shoot 'n Share review

The Shoot 'n Share (SNS for short) is a projector-camcorder that 3M has just started selling for $299. They were kind enough to send us a review unit. The SNS records HD (720p) video to a microSD card and can also take 8mp still photos. Beside the 2.4" LCD display it's got a 14 lumens, VGA pico-projector (LED LCoS). The SNS looks just like the Aiptek Z20 pocket cinema, but 3M says it is customized differently (Here's a side-by-side comparison).

What's in the box

The SNS' box contains the projector, a quick guide, A/V cable (to connect external sources to the projector), AC power adapter and a USB cable (used for charging and data transfer). There's no tripod included, and no memory card (although 3M did include a 8GB SDHC card for the review unit, kudos guys!).



3M shoot n share in hand 3M Shoot n Share photo 3M shoot n share on a tripod

The projector itself has a 2.4" color LCD on the front, together with touch buttons. On the top there's the projector lens, on the right there's the focus wheel, microSD slot, on/off switch and what seems to be an IR port. On the left side we have the audio-out (which doubles as A/V in) and a USB and HDMI ports. On the bottom of the projector there's the camera lens and a LED light (used for both still photos and videos).

The SNS looks good. Not as professional as 3M's other pico projectors, but more modern. It feels rather large when you hold it, even though it's pretty much the same size as the 3M MPro-150 (it's a bit shorter and thicker).

3M shoot n share and a 3M Mpro-150 3M shoot n share and a 3M Mpro-150 side photo

The Shoot 'n Share in use

First of all, I have to say that the SNS is a joy to use. You get the hang of it after a few seconds - and you can easily shoot videos and seconds later view them using the projector on a wall. This is actually a lot of fun. My 2 years old daughter sure enjoyed that game...

Now. The LCD display is rather small (2.4") and has a low resolution - it's not so good, really.It does the job, as long as you're not in sunlight - where it's pretty much useless, and as there's no viewfinder, it's hard to take photos or videos. The touch keypad is nice and fun, but sometimes it's too sensitive - and I find myself pressing buttons by mistake a lot. The sensitivity can be changed via the menu settings, and it helps a bit. The three top buttons are used to take a picture, shoot a video and turn the projector on. The other buttons allows you to change the settings, zoom in and out, pause, play and so on.

The SNS allows you to take still photos (8mp), but it's not very useful. It is slow - it can take about a second from the time you press the button till the time it takes the photo (reminds me of my Nokia N73 phone) - which is extremely annoying. The zoom is digital, so it's better not to use it. Here's a few photos I took so you can see the quality:

3M Shoot n Share still photo (piano) 3M Shoot n Share still photo (flower) 3M Shoot n Share still photo (roof)

Taking videos however is easy and works without issues... The LED light works rather well, actually - and is a lot of fun in the dark. The zoom is digital and degrades the resolution noticeably. It's also rather slow, and is not smooth - so I advice against it... Here's a sample video I took if you want to check the quality (and here's another video if you want):

One note about the internal memory: 3M says there's 32MB, I could only access 12MB. But in any case - this is not useful at all... you must get a microSD card if you want to actually use it...

The Shoot 'n Share as a projector

The SNS can project images and videos directly from the microSD card, and it can also accept an external source (A/V cable) and behave like a stand-alone projector. The quality is not bad, although (as you'll see later) is not as good as 3M's MPro-150 pico projector. I tested it at a distance of 1.3 meters, which results in a 39" image (1 meter diagonal). It looks good in a dark room, or with very little light. The resolution is 640x480, which is okay for movies or photos.

3M shoot n share calibration photo 3M shoot n share mountain photo 3M shoot n share pool photo

Projecting photos is easy, although I noticed that large photos tend to freeze it. A 500kb jpeg did so, anyway (or maybe it just takes a long time to process them? I waited for over a minute before turning it off...). When trying to view MP4 you recorded with the SNS itself it works great (that's what the SNS is all about, really: shoot HD videos and watch them on the projector shortly after). Trying to view AVI videos didn't go too well: they were jumpy and blocky, and both movies I tried stopped working after a few seconds, and I had to restart the projector. Here's the SNS projecting the movie I shot with it before:

After a few minutes of using the SNS as a projector, it gets hot. Really hot. But at least it remains quiet (which probably explains why it gets so hot).

Compared to the MPro-150

We have tested the SNS vs 3M's MPro-150. This is obviously a different device altogether: The MPro-150 is a dedicated pico-projector (with a media player) while the SNS is a camcorder with a projector. The technical specifications of the projectors are pretty much the same: 15 lumens (14 in the SNS) and VGA resolution. Here are a few photos comparing the quality of these two projectors (the SNS is on the right):

3M shoot n share vs MPro-150 calibration photo 3M shoot n share vs MPro-150 cups photo 3M shoot n share vs MPro-150 sunset photo

Both are quite good, but the MPro-150 has better colors and better contrast. The SNS seems to be 'brighter', but I think that's mostly because the contrast is worse and the blacks are actually gray. The MPro-150 has no problems with AVI movies - and can also display office documents and PDFs (which the SNS cannot do).

Here's our full review of the MPro-150, which is available for $299. And here's a side-by-side comparison of the SNS and the MPro-150.

Conclusions

The Shoot 'n Share is a joy to use: you can easily get HD (720p) videos and use the internal projector to view them in a large display - whenever you are (as long as they isn't enough light). For $299, you get both a decent camcorder and a good pico projector.

The problem is that it isn't a *great* pico-projector, and it isn't a *great* camcorder. As a camera, still images taking is lousy, the screen is unusable outside, and the touch buttons can be annoying as they are too easily pressed mistakenly. As a projector it's good, but you can get better quality today (for example the 3M MPro-160 or MPro-180). But of course such a combination will cost more money, and be more bulky.

What I like:

  • Projector and camcorder in one small package
  • Decent projector and nice 720p video
  • Easy to use, nice touch buttons
  • LED light
  • Can be used as a stand alone pico-projector via the A/V input

What I don't like:

  • The still camera
  • Quite unusable in sunlight
  • Projector colors could be better
  • Gets very hot
  • Can't project some images, AVI movies

The Shoot 'n Share costs $299 and is now shipping from 3M's site. It will soon arrive at Amazon.com, and at retail stores in the US.


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