a review by Tom Piper
Have you ever wanted to show pictures, or slideshows, or movies to three or four people at once, but your iPhone or iPod screen was just too small? Even the iPad screen can be too small for a group of people. You could hook up to a big digital video projector, but its heavy and bulky, needs to plug into a wall socket, and is time-consuming to setup. On the other hand, with the marvels of today’s technology and miniaturization, wouldn’t it be great if you could just pull a projector out of your pocket, plug and play?
With the Microvision SHOWWX+, I have taken advantage of the world's first laser projector which is the brightest ever. The PicoP display engine provides a deep and rich color projection which show vivid laser images that are always in focus, even on curved and irregular surfaces. Microvision has titled this infinite focus which provides a large picture from a small quiet device. It comes with a replaceable battery (two hour capacity), micro-USB wall charger, iPhone/iPad/iPod cable, composite adapter, micro-USB cable (for charging from computer or external battery), wrist strap and user guide. There is minimal prep time (charging the battery), and the unit is ready to go.
The SHOWWX+ unit has a single cable connection that plugs directly into your iPod, iPhone and iPad (it also works with any other mobile phone, notebook or device with TV-out or VGA functionality). The unit includes a 3.5mm stereo jack (audio passthrough), the regular power button, plus a menu select button (there are also up and down buttons for menu selection). The menu allows control of Brightness (high, med, low), Color Mode (brilliant, standard, inverted, gamma-high/med/low), Aspect Ratio (widescreen 16:9, normal 4:3, zoom), and System (image alignment-variable slider, color alignment-red/green/blue), Green/Magenta Balance-auto/manualpattern/manualvideo), and Properties (system info, battery info, warning messages, default resets). All in all, there are a lot of customizable features to set things to your liking.
I’ve been testing this projector for a month at home, in restaurants, in offices, on airplanes, in vehicles, and many other places. Image projection has been displayed from as little as six inches away (six-inch diagonal picture) to nine feet away (about 100-inch diagonal). Closeup is brilliant in almost any light environment, whereas the large screen really requires a dark room. After a few minor adjustments in the menu (so easy to do), the clarity has always been razor sharp with rich color spectrum, both for photos, movies and YouTube.
I have successfully connected the SHOWWX+ to my iPhone 4 (its the same size), iPad, and iPod nano (both the older video and newest small model). I haven’t plugged it into the computer because I don’t have the VGA Dock. I only wish that MicroVision would also sell a small portable 24” x 36” roll-up self-standing screen since flat white surfaces aren’t always easy to find (I’ve used place mats and thin plastic cutting sheets to great advantage since they are lightweight and rollable).
The reaction I’ve received from other viewers has been very positive. When shown at our Macintosh user group meeting, the crowd was surprised and pleased by the portability and clarity. Some were very interested in the size of the battery (very small) and length of use on one charge, while others were concerned about the price. There is still frustration that Apple won’t allow projection of the “live” image on its portable devices (this unit will be terrific for education and training when such projection is possible). I am also aware that I could hook this mini-projector to my digital camera, portable DVD player, camcorder, and more, but really wanted to concentrate on Apple devices.
Not only is the Microvision SHOWWX+ a “Plug & Play” projector, it is also thin, light weight, movie and picture capable, wide field of view, excellent resolution, and very uniform display. Specifications include:
- Resolution: WVGA (848 x 480)
- Brightness: 15 Lumens
- Refresh Rate: 60 Hz (nominal)
- Color Gamut: > 200% NTSC
- Contrast Ratio: > 5,000:1
- Regulatory: Class 2 laser product.1
- Height: 0.55 in (14 mm)
- Width: 2.36 in (60 mm)
- Weight (with battery): 4.3 oz (122 g)
I believe this is the best of the micro-projectors (also called mini-projectors) now on the market. All of the others appear to be based on LCD or similar technology which are not as clear or bright as the PicoP. This second generation unit is now available for $399.99 at http://www.microvision.com/showwxplus. A number of accessories are also available such as a SHOWWX VGA Dock, leather carrying case, USB car charger, Joby Gorillapod tripod stand, extra rechargeable battery, and extra connector cables.
I’ve been looking at the Microvision SHOWWX+ unit since the concept was first introduced. A year ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we got our first close-up view of the first generation unit. Now, at Macworld in San Francisco, the latest version will be displayed. My experience over the last five weeks has been excellent, and I just love to show people how great it is. If you need a really small digital projector, I have no hesitation in recommending this unit for a variety of uses. And, yes, I do carry it around in my pocket for easy plug-and-play displays! This is a quality projector.