You may have great photos and videos on your iPhone, but they’re hard to show to a group of people on your phone’s small screen. The 3M Projector Sleeve is an iPhone-sized projector that attaches to your phone, letting you display its content on a screen or wall. There are other ways to project from an iPhone—larger projectors with iPhone docks, or pico projectors with suitable adapters—but none as convenient as the 3M Projector Sleeve.
The Projector Sleeve only works with the iPhone 4 or 4S. You dock your phone in the sleeve, which is slightly longer than and as thick as the iPhone itself, and plug the connector into the 30-pin jack. It’s not compatible with the iPhone 5 and its new Lightning connector, and the iPhone 3 series is too wide to fit in the sleeve. (I hope we see a projector sleeve for the iPhone 5, but a lot of phone-projector mashups—both snap-ons like the short-lived Micron Technology PoP Video ($99, 3.5 stars), and full-fledged projector phones—have come and gone quickly.)
The Projector Sleeve comes with a Quick Start Guide, which turned out to be far from the truth. It shows the Power button, but neglects to mention that you need to press it for at least three seconds for the power to go on (or off, if it’s already on). Hold it for less than that and the Charge light in back will go on, but you may be puzzled as to why the projector itself is unlit—as was the case the first several times I first tried it. (It once turned on anyway, but I couldn’t figure out why it had that one time and not others until I hunted down the User Manual online.)
A longer button with a nondescript icon next to the Power button is unidentified in the guide. This button, as you discover if you search for and call up the online User Manual, lets you choose between Cinema, Web, and Eco scene modes. Fortunately, there’s not too much else to learn, and the User Manual is a lot better written than the so-called Quick Start Guide.
You charge the Projector Sleeve by plugging its USB cable into a computer or, if you have an adapter, a wall outlet. You can also charge your iPhone when it’s in the sleeve, by pressing the Charge button on the bottom. The Sleeve will get about 90 minutes per charge until the image begins to fade noticeably.
The projector has a focus wheel on the side, behind the lens. It’s possible to get a reasonably sharp focus but it may take a while as the wheel is tiny and its action isn’t all that smooth. It’s best focused when the Sleeve is placed on a table or other flat surface. Although the projector can be handheld, it makes much more sense to rest it on a surface. A riser to tilt the front of the projector upwards would have been helpful, but it’s easy enough to find an object to fill that role.
The Projector Sleeve is rated at 35 lumens, considerably brighter than the now discontinued Micron PoP Video. It has a native VGA (640 by 480) resolution.
To run a video, you access your Videos folder on your iPhone and open the video of your choice. The Sleeve should project the video, although the iPhone’s screen will remain black except for the Play arrow and other video controls. For Photos, you open your Photos folder; the images will run as a slideshow.
The projector is bright enough to show videos in a dark room at sizes up to about 50 inches diagonally, though they’re best at 36 inches and smaller. If you’ll settle for a still smaller (~12-24 inches diagonally) image, you can use it in situations with moderate ambient light.
Video quality is usable for showing movies from an iPhone, on a par with most other pico projectors we’ve seen. A lot of finer detail is lost, particularly in brighter areas and at larger images sizes. Changing the scene mode from Cinema to Eco helped somewhat in the brighter areas. To the Projector Sleeve’s credit, it showed very little of the distracting rainbow effect often seen in DLP-based projectors. Though you won’t be replacing your TV with the 3M Projector Sleeve, it’s fine for casual viewing and for non-videophiles.
Photo quality wasn’t quite as good as video. There was even more loss of detail in bright zones, and some color issues; flesh tones tended towards the red. Changing scene modes was of limited help. Still, the Sleeve is fine, say, for showing vacation photos.
One glitch I encountered a couple of times is that the picture would disappear and the screen would go blue, although I could still hear the sound and the video was still clearly running. Turning off and restarting the projector usually remedied the situation. (You might also try unplugging and reseating your iPhone in the dock.)
iPhone Projection Methods
Several methods of projecting from an iPhone are now available. You can display iPhone (and other smart phone) content from many projectors using an HDMI or composite video adapter. Or you can use a projector with a built-in iPhone dock, like the BenQ Joybee GP2 or the Editors’ Choice Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD. But nothing beats the 3M Projector Sleeve for sheer convenience and compactness.
However, teaming your iPhone with a pico projector like the Editors’ Choice AAXA P4-X—which can show a range of content, both stored internally or when connected to other devices—gives you a more versatile and brighter option that’s still highly portable, if a little more expensive. And it can connect with models other than the iPhone 4/4S.
More Projector Reviews:
|Native Resolution||640 x 480|
|Rated Brightness||35 ANSI lumens|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc