P2 combines SVGA (800 by 600) native resolution, a brightness rating of 33 lumens, and 30,000 hours of LED light—some of the strongest specifications we’ve seen in a pico projector.
This LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) unit also displays sharp, legible text and has a built-in media player with 1GB of memory, a 4GB MicroSD card reader, and dual 0.5-watt speakers, so it can independently display presentations, photos, and video.
On the other hand, the P2 is bulkier and louder than most picos (its noise level specification is 30 dB); its rechargeable battery lasts only about 50 to 60 minutes (due to its relatively high 15-watt power consumption); and its color quality is mediocre. Still, for standard business presentations where crisp, legible text matters more than vibrant color graphics, the P2 is a fine choice—bright enough for small-group presentations under low light conditions. In low ambient daylight at a distance of 5 feet from the screen, the P2 displayed viewable 37-inch-diagonal images. In a darkened room at night, the P2 successfully displayed 80-inch diagonal images at a distance of 11 feet from the screen.
In our performance tests, the P2 earned an overall rating of Very Good for image quality, though it did much better on some tests than on others. In displaying text images, the P2 earned a Superior rating for rendering sharp fonts in presentation slides, spreadsheets, word processing documents, and Web pages. At its default settings, however, the P2 displayed lackluster color graphics, due to undersaturated hues and dull, washed-out color.
In our motion tests, the P2 delivered smooth action during animated presentations, in the Monsters vs. Aliens DVD screening, and in podcasts and other videos piped from an Apple iPhone or iPod. But its mediocre color yielded grayer tones than with most other pico models did. The P2’s built-in sound was reasonably audible, but we’d recommend getting stronger speakers if sound plays a vital role in your presentations or videos.
Whereas most picos have an internal battery compartment, the P2’s rechargeable battery attaches to the bottom of the 1.0-by-2.3-by-4.3-inch, 9.17-ounce projector. With the battery attached, the P2 weighs about 18 ounces, and it’s as thick as two decks of cards. Add the unit’s accessory cables (A/V, VGA, USB, power), battery clip, metal tripod, remote, and battery pack dock (for recharging) to the load, and the entire P2 outfit weighs about 2.5 pounds (not counting the carrying case). The bundled composite (RCA-type) A/V cable worked fine with the digital camera and DVD player we used in our tests, but we had to use a third-party cable to connect the P2 to the iPhone 3GS and fifth-generation iPod nano used in other tests.
The P2 is straightforward to operate. The simple controls include separate off/on buttons for the projector’s fan and for illumination, plus buttons for accessing the unit’s on-screen display, card reader, and media player, and a focus dial in front. The menu options are easy to navigate when we used the P2’s media player and card reader to display images without attaching it to an external device, and the projector also has a handy remote control.
But the P2’s 1GB of internal memory is considerably less than the memory provided by other projectors. And the P2 is limited to reading 4GB memory cards. The P2 lacks bundled software for converting media files into the formats it supports. The P2’s user manual recommends using a third-party conversion utility.
Macworld’s buying advice
The Aaxa P2 is an excellent choice for users who primarily want a pico projector that’s powerful enough to deliver viewable, text-oriented presentations for small groups in low-light settings. But for graphics-oriented slideshows and for self-running presentations, other models offer better-quality color images and more-versatile media players.