A pico projector is a tiny projector. Some are so small you can hold them in the palm of your hand. They run on battery, and usually have a VGA or a HDMI port so you can hook up your phone or laptop directly to them. Some also have microUSB or microSD card slots so they can display pictures, and even certain types of videos, without the need for a computer. They usually have their own battery pack, and last for a few hours on a single charge.

What are they good for?

It’s very common to travel for business these days, whether it be to another building nearby, another city, or even another country completely. It may not always be possible to find a room with a projector if you have a presentation to do. Or perhaps you want to show your clients and colleagues something on your screen, or do a quick demonstration?

A pico projector is perfect for these situations, because you can simply pull it out from your handbag, pop it on a table and project onto a blank wall. It’s perfect for the travelling businesswoman, and can also be appropriated for personal use. You could display a movie from your tablet or laptop onto a hotel room wall, for example.

But there’s got to be a downside, right?

Yes. There are always trade-offs to be made. The lumens is the measure of brightness for a light source. Typical full-size projectors, such as those used in home theatres, start at about 1,000 lumens, and can go as high as 6,000 lumens for those used in large, professional spaces. Somewhere with a lot of ambient light will need a projector with a brightness of at least 4,000 lumens.

Pico projectors top out at about 100 lumens. This means they’re only usable in a darkened environment with fully controlled lighting. The display won’t be as bright and crisp as what you’d get from a full-size projector—and forget about taking it into anywhere with ambient light.

What other differences are there?

The biggest difference, of course, is the price point. The cheapest pico projectors can start at anywhere around $50, and go all the way up to a few hundred dollars for the ones with higher lumens and more features. A decent home theatre projector, however, starts in the $600 range and can go all the way into the tens of thousands.

Many pico projectors run off battery, as opposed to traditional ones that always need to be plugged in. This means that you don’t even need to be in a place with a powerpoint in order to use it.

Pico projectors also use LEDs as the light source, which usually have a life of around 15,000 hours—much longer than you’d ever use one in a lifetime. So unlike traditional projectors, there will never be any need to replace lamps.

However, where traditional projectors have many options for tweaking the picture so it displays just how you want it, pico projectors are very limited in this regard. There’s generally only a few basic settings. So if you’re thinking of using it to display artwork or any kind of presentation where faithful colour reproduction and a perfect picture is crucial, pico projectors are not the way to go.

The real short of it

Pico projectors are an emerging technology that’s great for businesswomen (and men!) on the go. They’re small enough to be tossed into a handbag, and can be used anywhere with a blank wall and no ambient light.

They’re recommended for women who are always travelling and doing presentations in different locations that may not have powerpoints or traditional projectors. Best of all, they’re relatively cheap.

So tell us, what do you think of these new gadgets? Is it something that you think you’d use?

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