Pico projectors are small, handheld projectors a little bit larger than the size of a smartphone. They work just like any projector: you plug it up to your laptop or mobile device and start presenting. While they don’t have the illumination or resolution of big, ceiling mounted projectors, that’s okay as the only time you need them is when that ceiling mounted projector doesn’t work. (And no, they are not devices that shoot pico de gallo at your Cinco de Mayo party guests, but the word “pico” in pico projector does come from the Spanish word that means, roughly, a little bit.)

Why spend more money on a pico projector if you’ve already got a regular projector in the office?

Lugging around a portable projector is a standard “back-up” plan for many salespeople. Having a backup projector that fits your pocket is a modern marvel for such “always presenting” pros. Until they figure out a way for smartphones to have built-in projectors (which we’re sure is in the works somewhere), pico projectors will have to do.

What should you look for?

Consider the following in making your decision:

Your budget. A good (yet reasonable) pico projector will run you anywhere between $120-500. The cost difference generally accounts for three things: visual quality (resolution), contrast ratio and brightness. Brightness (or lack of) is often the biggest complaint of pico users. Because they’re small, they don’t have the same illuminating power as standard projectors. Key advice: If you make presentations in widely varying situations, spend more. If you make presentations primarily in office situations where you can control the room’s darkness, spend less.

How you will use it. Depending on how many people you’re counting on speaking to (a room that holds 15 is much different than one that holds 100), you may need something that has better resolution, contrast ratio and brightness to ensure that everyone can see what you’re projecting. Key advice: The more people you present to, the more you’ll want to spend.

Will it work with your devices? As you want to make sure your pico projector works with your smartphone and tablet, make sure the cords all match up. Key advice: Apple is notorious for changing the type of wires and adapters its products use, so be sure the pico you purchase is up to date with the phone you own.

Built in memory: Some picos come with internal memory that allows you to load your presentation right on the projector. While that’s great for standard presentations, if may not be worth paying for if you want to make last minute changes to a presentation.


For reviews and guides to related pico projectors:

Via PicoPros

(Feature image: Cheon Fong Liew via Flickr)

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