Although projectors are hardly what ASUS is famed for, it seems that this Taiwanese company has managed to break into the said market with an excellent product. The latter, named P1, is an ultraportable projector with a sufficient number of features to stand out from the crowd, and it’s particularly noticeable for its extremely small dimensions and compactness. It’s the winner of this year’s gold iF award for design, which guarantees high quality in terms of finish, choice of materials, environmental impact, ergonomics, and of course, functionality, with just some of its features being mercury-free Eco-LED lighting and a resolution of 1280x800 (HD Ready).
The P1 projector has the so-called short-throw projection, which enables image display of 40” with a distance of just one metre, with the projector being fully functional merely five seconds after it’s been turned on. Read on to see how ASUS P1 played through our tests and in real-world conditions.
Projectors were something reserved for the elite for a long time, mostly because of their high price, which deterred home and business users alike, but owing to price cuts in manufacturing costs and newer, more compact technologies, one of these devices is no longer such a rare sight even in common households. And while home users have always cared most about display quality, business users were even more wary of dimensions, which created an entirely new line of ultralight/ultraportable projectors. It’s this very category that ASUS P1 belongs to, with its dimensions of 125.5x33.5x130 mm and a weight of just over 400 grams – basically an embodiment of the entire business projector class. However, as it turns out, this small fellow handles multimedia environments just as easily as business needs.
The box containing ASUS P1 is replete with extras; aside from the projector itself, neatly packed inside a spongy protection bag, the rich bundle contains a short user manual, one CD, an appropriate power adapter, but also two additional cables with forks matching other standards. Also included is the very handy linen carrying bag, with two compartments, one for the projector and the other for the accompanying adapter. The bag has no handles or holders on the outside, so it’s bound to be carried around in another, more sizeable bag or purse. Simply enough, you wouldn’t want to accidentally hit a firm object such as a table while carrying this projector in your hand and thereby damage this fairly sensitive device. Of course, the bundle also contains a VGA cable for connecting the projector with its video source, and its length clearly accentuates the portable nature of the projector and the fact that it’s envisioned as an extension of a portable PC.
As we’ve already stated, the projector is rather small and light, making it fit into a somewhat bigger pocket, so it’ll hardly be a burden to carry around. It’s easy to mount and set in most situations and conditions, and any flat white surface can easily be turned into a screen to project image on. In general, P1 looks pretty minimalistic, with a lot of sharp lines and optics that reach out of the casing giving it a serious note.
It’s made of ultralight materials exclusively, pleasant to touch, with an elegant combination of dark grey body and grey metallic optics cover, which create a nice, but not too emphasised contrast. The top surface contains the ASUS logo and five equally-sized shallow buttons, in line with the surface of the casing, enabling control over all device functions, including Menu, Power and Source Selection. A special ring for manual focus/sharpness control is mounted on the lens.
The back side contains the power connector, as well as the secure K-slot, while the right-hand surface houses a special connector used to establish connection with any given video source. With the aid of a practical plastic leg on the bottom, which only takes a second to change position, it’s possible to adjust the projector angle, and there’s even the option on mounting it on a standard stand. Most surfaces, the bottom one included, are riddled with grate openings, in order to provide better air circulation and the all-important passive cooling, due to the projector’s inherent heating.
This projector has two implemented technologies to thank for its exceptionally small dimensions – the DLP chip and LED lighting. DLP, short for Digital Light Processor, is a special type of chip, developed and manufactured by Texas Instruments with the goal to generate pixels on the projector screen using a huge number of miniature mirrors. The main advantage of this ever more frequently used technology compared to LCD projectors, other than the smaller dimensions and mass, is the stunning contrast that can be achieved. This means excellent black balance and reduced visibility of the net-like structure generated by the pixels (coming from the distance between them), which creates an altogether more homogenous and natural image.
The LED technology is the second major feature this projector has, and the advantages it has over conventional projector lamps are tangible indeed. LED light sources last for much, much longer periods of time, with a lifetime of more than 30,000 hours without any degradation in quality over time. Furthermore, the LED technology is also much “greener” – not only does it last longer, but consumes less electricity as well, which can be beneficial for your electricity bill as well as the environment.
On the spot
It’s really not that hard to find a suitable position for a projector this small – suffice to have a free wall and any form of portable PC with a video output. Even the size of the wall won’t be too problematic, as P1 is able to create a 40” display from as little as one metre, which is hugely useful when you don’t have too much room at disposal. Of course, the projector can pull off much higher values; for instance, a distance of two metres gives an 80” screen, with zero degradation in quality. This is an imposing value by all means, especially if compared to the price of a corresponding HDTV. One of the characteristics that ASUS seems to emphasise all the time is the time required for the device to boot up, which amounts to a mere five seconds. This may not be quintessential for home users and their typically multimedia tasks, but dynamic and time-constrained business environments can really make ASUS P1 shine. The so-called Auto Keystone correction is another of the features of this tiny fellow, automatically redefining display geometry regardless of the angle at which you place the projector; in other words, it’ll tend to straighten the inherently trapezoid shape of the image into a perfect rectangle. Of course, you can do this manually too through the options menu, or just brush up if you’re not entirely satisfied with the automatics.
With its maximum 1280x800 pixels and a lighting of 200 ANSI lumens, this projector is bound to satisfy most needs in both business and home multimedia segments. The image displayed is clear, colours are exceptionally vivid and bright, with a slight tendency towards darker colours, excellent contrast and extraordinary uniformity of black. The overall brightness may not be as high as we would’ve preferred, but since it’s a projector, and one with an entry-level price at that, we can’t really consider this a flaw. What’s more, a slightly dimmed room will make viewing HD material a pleasure, so this projector, although business-oriented, performs wonderfully as a home cinema solution as well. PowerPoint and other presentations are expectedly flawless, as they aren’t nearly as taxing as other uses. Surfing the net is an interesting experience at first, but the sheer amount of text you encounter on most webpages makes it a bit difficult to read and follow, as the display quality can never match the uniformity of a crisp-clear monitor, so it’s a less-than-practical usage scenario. Furthermore, we’ve noticed slight differences in image sharpness near the edges, which can’t be finely tuned unless at the expense of other image sections. However, this’ll be virtually unnoticeable while watching video, presentations or playing games, all of which are a pleasure at a distance of two metres.
The fairly rich ASUS OSD menu contains a few predefined profiles, i.e. viewing modes, similar to what you can typically find on this company’s monitors. That’s why we have Standard Mode, Blackboard, Whiteboard, Dynamic Mode, Game Mode, Scenery Mode and Theatre Mode, none of which are too helpful when you’re keen on setting up the image perfectly via manual parameters, but will definitely be useful to less experienced users.
Although the implemented technology makes P1 a relatively meagre energy consumer, and therefore not particularly hot, the implementation of an adequate cooling system was still necessary. As the dimensions of the device itself dictated the installation of a small-diameter fan, which implies a higher RPM rate, it can get noisy at times, or at least noisier than most other models, which some might consider troublesome.
We’ll conclude the list of features with another potentially useful one – this device cooperates with the majority of ASUS notebook adapters, so if you already have one, you won’t have to carry two adapters along with your notebook and projector, which reduces the total weight of your carrying bag.
To sum up
|MAX. RESOLUTION||WVGA 1280 x 800|
|BRIGHTNESS||200 ANSI lumens|
|PROJECTION DISTANCE||0,5 do 3 m|
|DIAGONAL||20 do 120 in|
|LIGHT SOURCE LIFE (max)||30.000 h|
|ASPECT RATIO||16:10, 16:9, 4:3|
|SIZE||125,5 x 33,5 x 130 mm|
|PRICE||~ 400 €|
The advantages of this device are numerous, starting from its incredibly small dimensions and mass, which make it extremely portable, over colour saturation and display quality in general, to details such as image projection of 40” with a distance of only one metre. Business users will definitely appreciate the low boot-up time of only five seconds, but that doesn’t overshadow this projector’s multimedia potential, which makes it equally attractive for home users too. Add to all this the device’s current market price, far lower than HDTVs with a diagonal comparable to what this projector can offer, and it really doesn’t seem far-fetched at all to see it in many a home in the upcoming period.