Pico Projector No. 2: Optoma PK 101

Optoma PK101 Projector

Optoma PK101 Projector

Yesterday, I discussed the first of two pico-projectors to hit the market: The Dell M109S. Today I’ll discuss the second, the Optoma PK-101 PICO Pocket Projector which, coincidentally, became officially available yesterday. I’ve only been able to find it online at Amazon.com (pre-order) and eBay at this time. It sells for $399, $50 less than the Dell M109S, but don’t stop reading yet.

First off, these units aren’t meant to replace your large home video projectors. Home units, which are designed for lit room viewing, are much much brighter than these mini-projectors, but the home units aren’t exactly portable or easy to transport and setup. And you certaily won’t fit a home unit in your pocket or handbag. These mini pico-projectors are portable, and are very very easy to setup. The Optoma PK101 will fit in your pocket, and the Dell M109S will fit in a slightly larger pocket. (FYI, you may very well see a pico-projector in future cellphones and portable computers for projecting images on a wall or other light colored surface.)

Back to the PK 101 from Optoma

The PK 101 is much smaller and lighter than the Dell M109S. It’s just over half an inch thick, 2 inches wide, and 4 inches long. It weighs only 4 ounces — a third the weight of the M109S (13 ounces), but the PK101 is only a fifth as bright as the Dell unit.  The Optoma is rated at 11 lumens versus the M109S’s 50 lumens. (Current home theater units are rated at 1,000 to 2,500 lumens).

The PK101 runs on a battery, which lasts for 2 hours of usage. There is a second battery included which can be swapped when the first one dies. The Dell M109S runs on an AC adapter, and there is no battery option. The PK101 has a AC adapter, too. The lower lumens rating is probably intended to conserve the PK101’s battery life. Both units work best in a dimly lit or dark room.

The plus side for the PK101 is that it is supposed to include a cable for connecting it to your iPod, so you can project video and slideshows. The Dell M109S can also be connected to an iPod, but you’ll have to buy the connecting cable from Apple: Apple Composite AV Cable – Apple Store (U.S.). The cable costs $50.

About Connectivity

The PK101 connects to iPods and iPhones with its included bundled connection kit. It can also be connected to camcorders, DV-Cams, and Digital Cameras with their standard composite AV Outs with the PK101’s included composite cable. You can also connect it to DVD Players and other video players. The same holds true for the Dell M109S (Note: I mentioned earlier a special cable is needed from Apple to connect the M109S to a iPod or iPhone).

Dell M109S

Dell M109S

The Optoma PK101 isn’t configured for connecting to a laptop or computer. unless the computer itself as a special video output.

The Optoma PK101 is the more atractive of the two units with its sleek finish, though some have complained it is prone to showing fingerprints and smudges. The Dell M109S has a brighter and sharper image, but no battery option. For computer and video connectivity, I’d be prone to go with the M109S. If I were more interested in iPod video connectivity, I might be inclined to go with the Optoma PK101, though I could always get the Apple cable to connect to the M109S.

I think the three questions you need to ask yourself when decing on these two units are: Do I need an option to run on a battery, or will I usually have access to a power outlet? What will I connect to more: an iPod or a computer? Do I want to drop it in my pocket or carry it in a briefcase or bag?

Update (Mar. 31, 2009): Connect Optoma PK-101 to a MacBook Air

Apple Micro-DVI to Video Adapter

The Optoma PK 101 is designed to connect to devices that have composite video connections. The MacBook Air has a mini display port that can be used as follows:

  • DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter
  • VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter
  • Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter

This is according to the MacBook Air’s Technical Specifications web page.

According to a MacBook Air Developer Note from Jan. 18, 2008:

The MacBook Air ships with a micro-DVI to DVI adapter and a micro-DVI to VGA adapter. A micro-DVI to video adapter, which provides composite and S-video support, is sold separately.

The Apple Micro-DVI to Video Adapter (shown above right) is available from the Apple Store in the US and Canada for $19. Apple says, “The Micro-DVI to Video Adapter was designed specifically to fit the slim profile of MacBook Air. The adapter connects to the Micro-DVI port on your MacBook Air and provides both S-video and Composite video connectors so that you can view content from your computer on such devices as TVs, VCRs, or overhead projectors with S-Video or RCA (Composite) connectors.”




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8 comments

  1. EdWest says:

    So I actually attempted to get the two devices (M109S and the iPod Touch) but I cannot get them talking. What was your secret?

    • Hi, Ed, are you using Apple’s composite A/V cables to connect to the Dell M109S projector? Are you using the newer cables? If your Apple composite A/V cables are more than 2 years old you will likely have problems, though using a dock connector may help in that situation. The older video enabled iPods had an option to port video through the headphone jack with an iPod A/V cable. The newer ipods don’t port video through the headphone jack.

  2. mark canavan says:

    How can i connect the optoma pk101 to a macbook air laptop.

  3. Thanks for your question, Mark. I’ve added an answer to your question to the end of the article. I haven’t been able to test this configuration since I don’t have a MacBook Air. (Don’t cry for me. I will survive …. somehow.) Thanks again for writing in.

  4. […] in mid-December of 2008, I reviewed two new micro, or pico, projectors: The Dell M109S and the Optoma PK 101. The Dell model was designed to connect to a wide range of devices with its multi-cable adapter, […]

  5. Jason says:

    The Dell M109S is a decent looking projector, but I would rather try the Microvision ShowWX Pico Projector from CommXPERTS. I found their Mobile Projector site helpful, and they ship International as well. Here is the Direct link to their site: http://www.commxperts.com/khxc/ecom-prodshow/ShowWX.html

    They have the ShowWX (without the focus ring) for a decent price compared to the Dell unit above.

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