What if at the end of a lesson you could simply unplug that 48-inch monitor, put it into your pocket and take to be used in your next classroom? Well, that’s the idea behind the Microvision ShowWX+ pico projector. At $400, it costs as much as a traditional budget projector but falls short on brightness.
At just 4.3-ounces and 0.8 by 4.7 by 2.4 inches, the ShowWX+ is absolutely tiny compared to traditional projectors and even the latest mini projectors, like Optoma’s PT-100. About the size of a smart-phone, it easily fits into a shirt or jacket pocket or even a purse or notebook bag’s internal pouch. Oddly, it doesn’t have a lens cover but there’s a protective window that keeps the delicate lens from being damaged.
Based on Microvision’s Picop laser imaging engine, inside there’s a digital chip that creates the image and individual lasers for red, green and blue light. ShowWX+ is quick and easy to set up; it’s projecting the image 20 seconds after being turned on and doesn’t require several minutes to warm up. With only the simplest controls, the ShowWX+ has three different brightness and image settings. There are image and color calibration controls, but you’re likely never to need to touch them.
It creates an 854 by 450 image and comes with cables for connecting to an iPad or iPhone and a composite video source, like a DVD player. The snap-on VGA adapter sleeve costs an extra $35 and is a must-have accessory in schools. While the projector lacks any height-adjusting feet or way to aim the projector onto the screen, The VGA adapter has a threaded screw hole for attaching it to a tripod. Otherwise, have a pile of books ready.
The projector is powered by a small AC adapter and it can be run off of its integrated battery pack. The battery lasted 1 hour and 15 minutes on a charge, plenty for a full class.
It’s able to create images of up to about 8.5-feet, but these look washed out unless it’s projected in a completely dark room. Something closer to 3- or 4-feet is more realistic, but the projector lacks keystone correction or an optical zoon lens.
It worked well with four notebooks, old and new as well as an iPad. Be warned, the output is very dim with 18.6 lumens, about one-hundredth the output of even the most inexpensive projector. There’s no adjustable focus to fuss with, and it is in focus no matter if it’s projected onto a screen or a wall.
The ShowWX+ handles grayscale images well and the projector has excellent uniformity of illumination, but whites have a blue cast to them. By far, the biggest problem is that the image is horizontally and vertically bowed, not quite projecting a perpendicular rectangle.
Microvision is aiming the ShowWX+ at business and entertainment audiences, but it has a place in today’s schools. It’s good for a small room, like a converted storage room or a cubicle one-on-one lesson. It doesn’t need a fan and doesn’t get particularly hot while being used.
Because the ShowWX+ uses three lasers rather than a high-pressure mercury bulb, you’ll never waste time or money with a burned-out lamp. It is rated to last 20,000 hours, or roughly 16 years of six hours of use per school day.
More to the point, it uses only 3 watts of power and will cost a school roughly $1.20 a year in electricity costs. This is about one-hundredth the level of a traditional classroom projector, making it a high-tech bargain.
While the ShowWX+ has its faults, it is an impressive piece of school technology that will certainly evolve and improve. In other words, watch this space.
+ Tiny and very light
+ Quick set up and quiet
+ Battery powered
+ No bulbs to replace
+ Low power use
- Bowed image
- No optical zoom or keystone correction
- Dim output
- No mounting hardware
- VGA adapter not included