Missing The Smart Element
Pico projectors have not been able to match up to user expectations, but this does not stop brands from launching new variants. Portronics Progenie is amongst the latest crop of pico projectors that aims to entice home users with small size and performance.
Progenie is roughly the diameter of a standard coaster — stack 6 coasters up and that’s about the height of this pico projector. Weighing just 208 grams, the Progenie is compact and lightweight enough to be carried around anywhere. Even with this size, Portronics offes a full-size HDMI port, full size USB port and a microSD slot. If you need better sound, you can plug in a pair of earphones or connect external speakers using the audio out port. On the right side you’ll find a tiny focus ring and buttons for power, volume and source. Overall when it comes to build quality, the Portronics Progenie feels solid. What we did not like was that there is no lens cover — this leads to dust build up and it isn’t the easiest thing to clean up.
Portronics says that the projector can create an 80-inch screen from a distance of 8-feet. While the screen size is 80-inches, we feel that the picture quality was not up to the mark. First off, resolution is just 854 x 480 pixels which means that the larger you go, the larger the individual pixels become. Second, the 100 lumens brightness isn’t good enough to use with high ambient light. This is a projector best used at night or in a very dim room with curtains drawn and lights off. We used the projector with an Xbox One and a laptop (via HDMI) — it handles content with good brightness without issue. However, when viewing scenes with a lot of blacks, we had trouble distinguishing between objects onscreen due to poor brightness levels. If its occasional usage (movie watching or viewing photos), then Progenie can be considered, but not for daily use.
A good thing about the projector is that it has a built-in basic operating system. You do not always need to connect an input source. Simply plug in a USB drive or insert a microSD slot with content — the projector can playback basic video formats, images and even open text files directly. We noticed that while it had no issues with USB drives, it even managed to work with a portable hard drive smoothly. Also, to be noted is that the projector comes with a built-in 3,400mAh battery that can be used to charge your connected smartphone or power on a USB dongle like Amazon Fire Stick.
Amongst things we did not like, fan noise is the biggest of the issues. From the moment you power on the projector, the built-in fan starts spinning at full speed. The fan noise us very noticeable and sometimes even drowns out the sound from the builtin speaker. On the plus side, this keeps the projector from overheating and shutting down — we used the projector constantly for 4 hours and faced no issues of random shutting down. However, you will have to connect external speakers via aux port for audio.
At ₹29,999, the Portronics Progenie seems too expensive for a non-smart pico projector. For a lower price (₹26,000), you can look at options from Acer (X1185G), ViewSonic (PJD5155) or BenQ (MS-527P) that offer 800 x 600-pixel resolution. Or you could spend a little more and get Optoma’s ML330 — it has resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, a USB 3.0 port with hard drive support and runs a custom version of Android.