WowWee’s Cinemin Swivel pico projector is made for watching iPod videos or playing games on the ceiling. Of course, you can point any handheld pico upward to display images overhead, but the Cinemin Swivel does it without requiring any handholding. Its unique, adjustable, 90-degree hinge lets you swing the lens through a wide arc of display angles while you relax on your sofa or bed. In addition, the Cinemin Swivel can handle business presentations for a very small group in a dimly lit room.
The Cinemin Swivel permits you to deliver an iPod presentation or show an iPhone video right out of the box, thanks to the bundled iPod/iPhone 30-pin adapter; other pico projectors require an extra-cost, third-party cable. If your main goal is to use a pico as an Apple accessory, the Cinemin Swivel is a solid choice. It also comes with a composite (RCA-type) A/V cable for connecting the projector to a digital camera, video game console, or other mobile device. You’ll have to pay $40 extra, however, to get the VGA-to-A/V converter accessory (Cinemin Swap) you’ll need to hook up the projector to a computer.
The Cinemin Swivel has a native resolution of 480 by 320 and is powered by Texas Instruments’ DLP (Digital Light Processing) projection technology. It weighs roughly 6 ounces (with battery) and has a candy bar-like size (0.9 by 2.1 by 4.7 inches)
This model has a 20,000-hour LED light life and a long enough battery life (135 minutes) to run a lengthy flick like Terminator Salvation. Its brightness rating of 8 lumens, however, is the weak, and the projector works best in an office setting and at a relatively small screen size. In our tests at 4 feet from the screen in low ambient daylight, the Cinemin Swivel projected a viewable 29-inch-diagonal image; and at 6 feet away in a darkened room at night, it managed a 45-inch-diagonal image.
In our performance tests, the Cinemin Swivel earned an overall rating of Very Good for image quality. In some tests, however, its vivid colors looked more saturated than they did in the original images. The Cinemin Swivel also tended to lose more detail in dark areas, no doubt because of its lower brightness.
In displaying text images, the projector did a good job of rendering legible text when displaying large san serif fonts. In PowerPoint slides, for example. But smaller text on Web pages was hard to read.
In our graphics tests, the Cinemin Swivel produced very colorful images, such as outdoor photos with gorgeous blue skies and lush green grass, but with some oversaturated elements, such as skin tones that were too red.
In our motion tests, the Cinemin Swivel displayed smooth action and its brilliant color was an asset in our screening of the animated Monsters vs. Aliens DVD and in tests with iPod nano podcasts and iPhone 3GS YouTube videos.
The projector’s 0.5-watt mono speaker was reasonably audible only when we sat close to the unit; for greater range, another audio source is needed.
The Cinemin Swivel is reasonably easy to use, despite lacking a tripod and a screw hole for attaching one. The simple controls consist of a focus wheel, volume buttons, and a power switch. Inputs for video, audio (headphones or external speakers), and power/USB are clearly labeled and easy to access. The power switch has a position for back projection (reverse image), too.
Macworld’s buying advice
If you want a pico that can project images from a fifth-generation iPod nano or an iPhone 3GS without requiring extra accessories, the WowWee Cinemin Swivel is a good choice.