REVIEW: 3M MP410 palm-sized projector creates secret cinema screen for your home

The world of projectors is typically split into home cinema products and work products for presentations. The tiny 3M MP410 is billed as the latter but has a secret. In the amazingly simple menu controls sits a Movie Mode option. Movie Mode. Yes, that’s right. Not a Powerpoint mode, not a Keynote mode but a Movie Mode. Purchase the 3M MP410  for work and you’ve got a home projector capable of throwing a 70 inch image on your nearest white wall.

Of course, it’s not going to offer the performance of a dedicated entry-level home cinema projector (and pull-down screen) at around £1000 – the MP410 is £439 – but if you’re new to the world of projectors, the size versus performance ratio will surprise you. To put the projector in context, it’s roughly the size of four iPhones and gives you a maximum screen size which is (probably) twice the size of your current TV. Projector technology is advancing rapidly and the key advantage is size. They’re getting smaller. Samsung is even including a small projector in a new phone this year.

Partnering the 3M MP410 with an Apple TV streamer via the HDMI input, 1080p HD TV episodes of Spielberg produced series The River are respectable and instantly provide wow factor. It’s not going to work in all but the darkest of rooms for movies but the HDMI input is ideal for Apple TV. MicroSD and USB inputs are included, though no SD Card slot or output for external speakers. The small frame has room for a lens which runs hot and not much else – the speaker is designed for spoken-word audio and can’t cope with hectic movie volumes.

TV streamers like Boxee and Roku have audio outputs however, so if you’re taking this ‘secret mini home cinema’ thing seriously, it’s not going to be a problem to connect those boxes to an audio set-up. Your kids will love it, in fact. Linked to an Apple TV, iPhone photos and videos instantly appear through Photo Stream though the USB and MicroSD inputs allow easy family photo and video viewing too.

The included carry bag and cables are a nice bonus, though the optional remote and Wi-Fi dongle to stream content are added extras. There’s 1GB of memory inside the projector, which means a couple of movies or a fair amount of, ahem, work presentations or family photos without connecting a PC or TV streamer.

VERDICT

It’s not the brightest portable projector we’ve seen but it gives a good picture for the paltry size and weight –  the MP410 weighs under a pound, in fact. For work, you’ll need the extra remote or a Wi-Fi dongle and an app but for a value packed experiment in projector use at home, it’s impressive and can be set up in seconds. Just don’t expect usable speakers for your movies…


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