Tactical Advice

Review: Optoma ML550 Projector Is Portable Perfection

The days of lugging a heavy projector to meetings are over thanks to the Optoma ML550 mobile projector.
Review: Optoma ML550 Projector Is Portable Perfection
Credit: Optoma

Modern business travelers can do more work on the go, but they’re also carrying around more devices than ever before. You’ve got your notebook, smartphone, tablet and — for those looking to make a good impression with a presentation — maybe even a mobile projector.

These road warriors hauling around the latter may want to consider lightening their load with Optoma’s ultraportable ML550, a fully-functional projector that fits (literally) in the palm of your hand.

End-User Advantages

Measuring just 1.5 x 4.1 x 4.2 inches, the Optoma ML550 looks more like a MiFi device than an LED projector. By itself, the ML550 weighs under a pound at 14.1 ounces, and even with the power adapter and carrying case, it’s still under two pounds.

Want to leave your notebook at the office? Simply plug in a USB thumb drive or microSD card and select a file to present. The projector supports Microsoft Office documents, as well as .avi, .divx, .mpeg, .mp4, .mov, and .wmv videos. You can also point to a folder full of of .JPG or .BMP files to show a slideshow.

Connect the ML550 to a computer or external video source via a supplied universal input/output connector that allows for standard VGA input or an HDMI port (cable not provided). The projector supports an impressive number of video resolutions, from standard VGA (640x480 pixels) to SXGA (1280x1024) to WSXGA+ (1680x1050). Images look best in its native WXGA (1280x800) resolution, however, and video compatibility ranges from 480i to 1080i/p.

ML550’s picture is clear and crisp, owing in part to a 10,000-to-1 contrast ratio. Although the LED lamp’s brightness is just 500 lumens, projections are quite visible in typical office environments. Focus is easily adjusted with a rotating slider near the lens that also autocorrects keystone effects fairly well.

Why It Works for IT

The projector, remote and A/C adapter all fit nicely within the provided carrying case. The unsophisticated remote control and on-screen menus should be easy for even your most IT-phobic users to master.

Optoma rates the LED lamp for use of over 20,000 hours. Given a typical annual workload of 2,000 hours for an employee, you likely won’t have to change the lamp for at least ten years.

The ML550 mounts easily on a ceiling or other location in a small conference room or display area. In terms of security, a Kensington lock port on the back of the projector is available to lock it down. In terms of energy efficiency, the projector consumes only 62 watts while on — less than half a watt on standby mode. That makes it a green alternative to more expensive, brighter lamps.

Disadvantages

Some controls on the Optoma ML550 could be a tad more intuitive. The projector will zoom the picture to 1.7x size, but locating the Zoom feature within the on-screen controls is not so obvious.

Though the native viewer is good to have around in a pinch, complex files seem to require a notebook or tablet for effective presentation. For example, the native Office viewer works very well for most documents, but moving around in a Word or Excel document is difficult without a keyboard and mouse. PowerPoint and PDF present much better, but embedded movies within PowerPoint slides don’t play, even though they matched the projector’s video file compatibility.

Adjusting the projector’s height through a screw in the front bottom of the unit works well enough but there is no way to quickly release it and push it all the way back in for a quick exit.

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About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Sheen

Dr. Jeffrey Sheen

Jeff is tasked with separating the “gee whiz” factor from the truly useful when it comes to the latest tech gadgets, and oh, he holds a Ph.D. in physics. He currently works as the supervisor of enterprise architecture services for Grange Mutual Casualty Group of Columbus, Ohio. His biggest challenge is being an avid Wolverine fan while living in the midst of Buckeye country.

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