This is a product that we've been interested in for some time. The idea of having a miniature pocketable projector which can display video content from an iDevice or through mini-HDMI, wherever we go, is appealing.
Available in just one colour, which is black, and coupled with smooth edges, the design of the MicroVision ShowWX+ suits Apple devices, especially the iPhone. The top of the unit is coated in a glossy outer plastic which is a menace with dirt and fingerprints but nevertheless looks sleek. The bottom of the projector is coated in a matte plastic, a smart design choice as the projector will be left on surfaces which need grip and a gloss finish wouldn’t sport this. The bottom also has a detachable plate where the replaceable battery sits. Weighing a measly 122g and sporting similar dimensions to that of an iPhone, this is an exceptionally pocket-friendly device.
Along the sides of the ShowWX+ a scattering of buttons and connections are equipped. The left side has two buttons which can be used to navigate the basic inbuilt user interface which is only launched when the user interface button located along the right of the unit is pressed, this then allows for the adjustment of colour, picture scaling and quality. It's surprisingly uncomplicated to use. These two buttons also have the ability to quickly flick through three different brightness settings and sharpness settings, respective for each button when not used in conjunction with the user interface button. A mini-HDMI port is directly next to these two buttons. On the right side is a micro USB port for charging the device (from flat that takes around two-three hours) and an audio out port is positioned widely away from this on the same side. On the rear end of the unit is where the Apple 30 pin dock connection cable input is positioned, this choice of placement is practical and makes holding the ShowWX+ unobstructed from the cable. On the front is where the miniature projector window is located which projects the image.
Probably one of the most appealing aspects of the MicroVision ShowWX+ Projector is its zippy boot up speeds. From the press of the on button the device is booted and ready for action in under four seconds. Compared to bigger projectors we've tried in the past this is a welcome improvement. The reason for this fast boot up speed is all due to its PicoP system, which doesn't seem to require much, if any, warm up in comparison to bulb based projection systems. This immediacy makes the ShowWX+ more attractive to use and take anywhere.
The ShowWX+ uses the Apple 30 pin dock connector input via the use of its supplied compatibile cable and doesn't have any support yet for the Apple Lightning connector, meaning the iPhone 5, 5th Gen iPod touch, Retina iPad 4 and foreseeable Apple mobile device releases aren't compatible with the ShowW+. The Lightning to 30 pin dock connector adapter doesn't support video out either, so that isn't a solution. Every iPod released which can play video will work with the ShowWX+ and all iPads and iPhones with a 30 pin connector will work too. Additionally the mini-HDMI port (includes cable) opens this projector's world of compatible devices up, also a vast array of adapters are available to purchase for mini-HDMI.
Our usage suggests the battery generally lasts for around 90 minutes, which is about the length of an average movie, but then again many movies run way over 90 minutes. We mainly used the projector with full resolution and brightness for optimum video output. Displaying shorter bits of video content like YouTube videos, Netflix, saved TV Shows, presenting a Keynote and displaying a video game is not too much of an issue with 90 minutes of output time. But a longer battery life was one of the striking improvements we felt could be made. 180 minutes would be much more workable. We have also found that if the MircroVision ShowWX+ is left for a month or so with a fully charged battery, it will be completely drained when used again after being left for so long.
Because this is a portable projector we projected it onto a diverse number of different surfaces when whipping it out on the go. We had no trouble watching video outputting onto textured surfaces and even coloured. A flat white surface area is the ideal setup though, because, of course, it depicts the intended original video output the best. The included carry pouch comes in useful when commuting with the projector.
Playback quality is exceptionally sharp and the frame rate is remarkably smooth at a very constant 60Hz. Colours pop, they are vibrant, cheerful and dull when needed to be. The contrast is 5,000:1 and aids the colours to be true to what the original outputted content was intended to look like. The brightness is 15 lumens and on paper this sounds low, the Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector we reviewed last year sported 2800 lumens. Although 15 lumens sounds low, the ShowWX+ displays 25” and under contentedly in rooms with daylight entering adequately. The ideal environment, and where the best results are gained, is to use it in the dark. The overall package of video production output all seems slightly unbelievable when we glance down and realise that it's coming from a device that's about the same size as an iPhone!
The ShowWX+ is capable of projecting a native resolution of 848 x 440. MicroVision claim that the projector is capable of displaying a 100” image; and it is, but with a slight proviso regarding light. Blowing up the outputted video doesn't require any manual focusing because this is a laser based system, and even when the image does begin to become pixelised it’s still watchable to a point of 100” as you are projecting from a distance which makes the pixelation less noticeable to the eyes. However, the degree of brightness necessary to keep the image watchable is slightly lacking for MicroVison's 100" claim because of the distance between the projector and surface. It's possible to display an image of this size and watch it quite happily, but it can seem, at times, a dull and un-energetic experience. Having said that, we could project well beyond 100”, but did discover that definition seriously deteriorated and, coupled with the greater dissemination of light at this size, it became a much less enjoyable watching experience.
To sum up, the MicroVision ShowWX+ Projector is impressive. It pushes the boundaries of portable pocketable projection and makes it very accessible by including a 30 pin dock connector and mini-HDMI input. At around £169 on Amazon it's by no means a bargain, but is one of the best portable projectors we've ever used.