Techbargains. com reviewed AAXA’s M2 projector.
A few years ago, the idea of a pocket-sized projector would have been the stuff of science fiction. Now, not only are micro projectors reality, but the image quality and brightness are getting closer than ever to full sized projectors. The $369 AAXA Technologies M2 is the first micro-projector to feature XGA resolution, which is better than standard DVD quality, but falls slightly short of 720p resolution. Upping the ante, the M2 adds a stand-alone media player and surprisingly robust on-board stereo speakers.
- XGA Resolution (1024×768)
- 110 lumen LED lamp source with 15k hour life
- Maximum 100″ image size
- 1 gig built in memory – with SD and USB (micro) readers
- Media Player capable of handling MP4/MP3/WMA/OGG/WAV/AVI/WMV/SMV/ BMP/JPG/GIF/TXT formats
- Optional iPod, smart phone, and PSP input cables
- Wireless remote control
- Built in speakers
- HDMI, mini-VGA, and composite inputs
What We Liked
- Image Quality – You probably won’t mistake the M2’s output for a 10k HD projector, but the image quality has to be described as excellent given the cost and size of the unit. In a moderately dark room (closed blinds, but with enough ambient light to move around safely) the M2 threw a bright and clear image when placed approximately 9 feet away from the viewing screen. The micro AAXA was a snap to focus, and we had no problems at all reading on-screen text or resolving detail when viewing regular and HD programming.
- Media Player – We found that the built-in media player had no problem handling common media formats such as AVI and MP4 video, and WAV and MP3 audio. The M2, a USB drive, and a white wall are everything required to have an instant “media party.”
- On-board Speakers – We were more than a little surprised at just how usable the on-board speakers actually were. In a moderately sized room (14’x16′) the audio from the M2 was more than loud enough for casual viewing. The included media player even allows the AAXA to function as a credible source of background music in a pinch.
- LED light source – The bane of most projectors is the relatively short life and high replacement cost of the lamp assembly. We’re not aware of any lamps with sub-triple digit price tags! The M2’s LED lamps are rated for 15,000 hours of use, which is the better part of 2 years worth of continuous 24 hour usage. Compare that to the average 2000 hours a traditional projector bulb will last.
- Attractive Design – The M2 is finished in a very elegant piano black plastic with sensual curves. The overall fit and finish of the unit is well executed and conveys a feeling of solidity.
- Plays Nicely with Others – While the M2 works very nicely as a stand-alone device, we appreciated the inclusion of multiple ports (HDMI, mini-VGA, and composite) and connection cables. Available as well are optional cables for integration with smart phones, iPods, and portable gaming units.
What We Didn’t Like
- Noisy Fans – Whether our unit was out of spec, or accurately reflects current production, the M2 has front and rear panel fans that are anything but unobtrusive. We measured the fan noise at 56 dBA, 1 foot away from the unit. This is much louder than the 30 dB specification claimed by the manufacturer, and quite honestly is noisy enough to interfere with quiet dialogue, especially when using the on-board speakers.
- Slightly Clumsy Menu Structure – If you’re used to the elegant simplicity of Apple devices, you may find that the M2 menu is slightly counter-intuitive.
- Remote Hard to Use in the Dark – Lots of small buttons with small type on a shiny background made low-light usage tricky. Back lit (or glow in the dark) keys would be a welcome addition.
- Outboard Power Supply – The inclusion of an outboard power supply does take away a little of the “put it in your laptop bag and go” charm away… that said, we’ll get over it!
- Language Barrier – Although it’s just a “freebie” type feature, we were a little surprised when the picture block game was only available with Chinese menu controls, despite the global language setting being set to English.
Overall, we were more than a little bit taken with the M2. The combination of excellent image quality, thoughtful integration with a variety of ancillary gear, and the included stand-alone media player (with speakers) made for a great turn-key solution for portable large-screen viewing. Let down chiefly by the intrusively loud fans, the AAXA Technologies M2 is nonetheless a worthy contender in the micro-projector arena, and a unit well worth investigating.
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5