The AAXA P8 Smart Mini projector is one of the smallest we’ve seen with built-in streaming capabilities, and also one of the cheapest, at $249. It weighs just 8.8 ounces, supports screen mirroring, and offers connection choices that include HDMI, USB-C, and Wi-Fi, making it an acceptable companion for either phone or other. mobile device. What keeps it from being a great companion is that unlike the slightly heavier and slightly more expensive Kodak Luma 350 Smart Projector (our current Editors’ Choice for pocket projectors), it doesn’t include a battery. integrated. Still, it offers enough value to be considered.
Appropriate image quality for a pocket projector
The P8 combines a DLP chip with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels (qHD, or a quarter of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels) with an RGB light source rated at 30,000 hours in Eco mode. (There is no published rating for full power mode.) qHD resolution offers a slight improvement over the Luma 350’s resolution (854 by 480 pixels) but still falls well short of 720p HD ( 1280 by 720 pixels).
At first glance, the P8’s 430 lumens brightness would seem to make it much brighter than the Luma 350, which is rated at 200 lumens. But the Luma 350’s rating is in ANSI lumens, which is a measurement-based standard, while the P8’s rating is in LED lumens, which is basically a statement that it’s perceived to be as bright, even though the measured brightness is lower. In my tests, using the P8’s brightest power mode, called Boost, it delivered about what I’d expect to see from around 225 ANSI lumens.
On the plus side, there’s no visible difference in brightness between color modes, and there’s no loss of color accuracy in the brighter power modes. Unfortunately, color accuracy ranges from tolerable to barely acceptable with all setting adjustments (more on those later), but at least you can get the brightest image the projector is capable of without any loss of color accuracy. colors.
The configuration is standard for the category, without optical zoom. A welcome touch is that the focus wheel offers a bit of resistance to avoid overshooting the right setting, and I found it easy enough to get the best focus. Another welcome touch is the supplied tabletop tripod.
The P8 measures 1.4 by 3.9 by 3.4 inches (HWD) and its weight of 8.8 ounces does not include the weight of the external AC adapter.
Built-in streaming, powered by Android
There’s nothing to configure for Android 10-based streaming other than connecting to a Wi-Fi network and entering your login credentials into individual apps. The projector comes with six streaming apps installed: YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo, Tubi, Haystack News and Twitch.TV, as well as a number of utilities including Chrome, WPS Office, FileManager and Aptoide TV to download any further.
Aptoide apps are notorious for not working well, and indeed one I downloaded didn’t work at all, while another only worked after clearing an error message saying that would not work. The good news is that all of the pre-installed apps I tried worked, including Netflix. Still, Aptoide Netflix apps have this track record, and indeed every time I loaded it or tried to stream, I got the same error message I saw with the other app I have downloaded. After clearing the message, streaming worked. AAXA said the error message appears to be a bug, which the company will put on the fix list for the next software update.
In addition to Wi-Fi for streaming, the P8 offers an HDMI port, a USB Type-A port for playing files from USB memory, a TF card slot for playing files from TF and MicroSD cards, and a USB Type-C port for wired mirroring with compatible Android devices. (Apple mobile devices, as well as Android devices, can use the HDMI port for mirroring.) It also supports wireless screen mirroring, but note that wireless screen mirroring only supported not support hardware with HDCP copy protection in my tests, while wired mirroring did.
The P8’s built-in 2-watt speaker provides enough audio quality and volume to be useful. You can also connect to an external audio system using the 3.5mm stereo audio out port or Bluetooth.
AAXA P8 review: Decent color for PowerPoint and occasional videos
The P8 has two independent sets of menus, which makes them a little tricky to use, but the setting options are typical for this class of projector. You get three picture modes that you can’t change, plus a user mode that only lets you adjust contrast, brightness, color saturation, and sharpness. After some preliminary testing with each, I settled on Standard mode, which offered good color saturation and the most realistic skin tones for photorealistic images.
As already suggested, image quality is not a strong point. I’ve seen obvious color errors, including red shifting to purple in graphics and photorealistic images, and a green Volkswagen taking on a chartreuse color that I’ve never seen on a real car. Additionally, photorealistic images were particularly grainy in my tests and somewhat posterized (meaning colors changed suddenly in areas where they should gradually fade). These issues were particularly evident in skin tones. In the close-ups of faces, virtually everyone looked like they had freckles or pockmarks.
The good news is that color errors are only slightly more obvious than typical pocket projectors. All issues (for graphics and photorealistic images) fall within a range that most people will find marginally acceptable to at least tolerable, especially for such a small projector.
Professional graphics in our test suite retained well-saturated, snappy colors even when the colors were turned off, and didn’t show the graininess or posterization I saw in photorealistic images. The low resolution isn’t well suited for small fonts, but text on typical PowerPoint slides was perfectly legible.
Even colors in movies and videos rarely went out of a realistic range. Also note that when I pointed the projector at a wall or door instead of an actual screen, the imperfections in the surface of the makeshift screens hid the imperfections in the image, so the grain and posterization didn’t were not displayed.
The P8 does a good job of avoiding the rainbow artifacts, red-green-blue flashes that are often a problem with single-chip projectors. The only time I saw these in my testing was with a contrasting black and white clip in our suite which tended to make them stand out, and I didn’t see many even then. That said, if you find these artifacts bothersome, you should always buy from a retailer that allows returns without restocking fees, so you can test it out for yourself.
The projector does not support 3D. But it does have a reasonably short input lag, which should be more than enough for casual gamers. I measured it with a Bodnar meter at 33ms for both 1080p and 720p inputs at 60Hz.
As already mentioned, in its brightest mode, the P8’s image was about as bright as I expected from around 225 ANSI lumens. In a darkened room, it provided a sufficiently bright image on my 80-inch-diagonal 1.0-gain white screen.
A budget-friendly portable projector
The most eye-catching feature of the AAXA P8 is its price. If that’s what appeals to you and you’re not interested in streaming, consider the Kodak Luma 150, which includes a rechargeable battery, has the same list price as the P8 and currently sells for less. Or consider the ViewSonic M1 mini, which also has a built-in battery and costs even less.
Meanwhile, if you want the smarts of built-in streaming, the Kodak Luma 350 is still our Editors’ Choice for the category, but it’s also more expensive than the P8. If you want to stream and can do without a battery to cut costs, the AAXA P8 is actually a decent option, as it offers features comparable to the Luma 350, plus a small resolution boost, for cheaper. This combination keeps it in the running as a more than reasonable budget pocket projector.
AAXA P8 Smart Mini Projector
The 9-ounce AAXA P8 streaming projector has no battery, which is a drawback for “true” mobile use, but its low price keeps it in the running for budget-conscious businesses and homes.
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