If you’ve ever wished you could project the image from your screen to show friends and family photos without having everyone crowd around your laptop, didn’t have to rely on someone else bringing a projector for a work presentation, or dreamed of hosting an outdoor movie night in your backyard, the Lenovo Pocket Projector P0510 ($249) is a worthwhile investment that comes in a small package.
The Lenovo Pocket Projector P0510 is an ultra-portable unit that squeezes a projector and battery pack into a package about the size of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The projector weighs only 6 ounces and boasts the ability to display streaming content from iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs, as well as the ability to play movies from an internal microSD card slot.
Upon booting up, the projector opens to a menu screen, asking you how you’d like to connect. The projector has built-in WiFi and can connect to your own WiFi or broadcast its own WiFi network name. You pick what kind of source you would like to display and then start streaming.
When you enter each streaming mode, the projector displays the instructions for how to connect your device. It is pretty ingenious. If the projector isn’t receiving a signal from you, it’s probably because you’re trying to figure it out, so the projector shows you the instructions. If the projector is broadcasting WiFi, it tells you its name on the screen, along with the IP address of the projector so you can contact the projector. Overall, a very nice design.
The projector itself features a hinged design where the base sits on a surface and the projection lens can tilt upward to adjust the height.
There is a small manual focus dial near the projector lens. As you change the projector’s display angle/height, the projector automatically adjusts the “keystone” settings, preventing your rectangular video from turning into a stretched, trapezoid. Again, this is a neat feature that will help technical novices to achieve good picture quality.
Video Specs of the Lenovo Pocket Projector P0510
The P0510 has a brightness of 50 lumens. Compared to a projector you use at work or in a classroom, this is extremely low. But you need to remember that this is a tiny-sized “pocket projector” with its own internal battery. You cannot use this projector to blast half-way across a room with the lights on.
Lenovo says that the product will project a 37” diagonal screen at 3 feet away and a 110” one about 10 feet. I think the sweet spot for this projector is to be about 5 or 6 feet away from the wall or screen you are using.
The resolution is 854×480, which is 480p with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Neither of these specs are prominently displayed on the packaging or Lenovo’s web page because they are “low-end” compared to typical projectors. But you have to remember that this is not a typical projector, it’s ultra-portable and battery powered.
I setup the projector one afternoon with the shades closed and lights off. It wasn’t completely dark, and with the projector about 4 feet away, the brightness was perfectly acceptable for watching movies. I don’t think you would want to “group-edit” a word-document on this projector, but watching videos, it’s great.
Lenovo Pocket Projector P0510 Video Tests
Next up, time to play some videos. I had some mixed success with various mobile and laptop devices.
Windows 10: The Windows 10 operating system includes a built-in Miracast client. I said “Connect to a wireless display.” It connected on my first try. I opened up a browser and played YouTube videos with ease, including in full-screen mode. I logged into Netflix and was able to stream Orange is the New Black without any errors. Video quality and sound were good without any stutter.
Apple: Immediately after unboxing, I had a lot of trouble getting Apple devices to connect with AirPlay (both iOS and Macs). Eventually, I got it working. I don’t know if a software update helped me, or perhaps the different computer and iPod I tried the second time. The projector uses AirPlay which is built into iOS and MacOSX. I connected an iPod touch and was able to mirror the phone’s screen which was pretty neat.
You could project playing a game, navigating the phone’s menus, running apps, and more. I opened the YouTube app and tried to watch some YouTube videos. This brought up a strange progress bar and play button on the projector and I could never get the video to play. I clicked play on the iPod multiple times and never got YouTube to play. I tried the Netflix app and it didn’t play either.
Android: On Android, you need to install a Miracast application. I downloaded the free “Miracast Widget & Shortcut” from the Google Play Store and had it up and running in no time. I could mirror the phone’s screen and navigate apps. I opened YouTube and pulled up some videos. The video played and when I turned the phone sideways, the projector switched orientation and I got full-screen video with no problem. Netflix was willing to play but there was an occasional choppy sound and video issue. The projector’s internal speaker is tiny but sufficient for watching videos in a quiet room. It might not be able to overpower a room full of children, but it’s decent.
Mac OS X: Once I seemed to get Airplay working correctly, I had no problem getting the P0510 to connect to my MacBook pro running El Capitan. I could mirror my main display or use the projector as an additional display. Text on the screen doesn’t look great because of the projector’s low resolution, but for videos and pictures, it was acceptable. I was able to play YouTube videos successfully with sound.
I also fired up Netflix in a Safari browser window. Upon trying to play an episode of Orange is the New Black, Netflix aborted and gave me an error. Netflix’s copy protection software prevents it from working.
MicroSD: For the ultimate in portability and convenience, you can put your media onto a microSD card. If you do this, you don’t need another device or internet access at all. The Lenovo P0510 can display photos and mp4 videos (but not m4v). For photos, it does not feature a slide-show mode to cycle through photos on the microSD card. It will display one photo that you select. I copied an mp4 video of a live concert performance from my phone to a microSD card. It played just great.
The Lenovo P0510 Pocket Projector lives up to its name. It is tiny, lightweight, and powers itself from an internal rechargeable battery. For a projector, it’s ultra-portable and perfect for locations where you don’t have access to power. Entry level “full size” projectors are substantially brighter and have better resolution at a slightly higher price point than the P0510.
So when should you choose this product?
The portability and battery power are the keys here. You could bring it on a camping trip to project movies on the inside of your tent at night. Why? Just because you can. As long as you don’t try to use it with Apple products, you’ll have success.
The Lenovo P0510 Pocket Projector retails for $249 ($244.95 on Amazon).
I received the Lenovo Wireless Pocket Projector (ZG38C00505) for review purposes. No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are my own.