Pico projectors are something of a gamble. Small and easy to carry they might be, but what they give in terms of portability these pocket-sized projectors often take in brightness and resolution. After all, where's the benefit of a small projector if the presentation it produces makes you look unprepared - and ill-informed?

Optoma gets around all of these problems with the ML550, which is the most versatile of all pocket projectors, but the much-needed extra brightness it offers comes with a high price tag of about £470 that, ultimately, could cost it.

Scores
Design - 5 out of 5
Features - 5 out of 5
Performance - 4 out of 5
Usability - 4 out of 5
Value - 4 out of 5

Specifications

We want it all - a small size and a small price - but in reality the shrinking of tech normally carries a premium. And so it is with Otoma's ML550, whose mere 380g weight and 39x105x106mm dimensions put it ahead of a D-SLR camera in terms of portability.

However, it's not its size, but its brightness that makes the ML550 the leader of the pack; its 550 ANSI Lumens, delivered by an LED lamp rated at 20,000 hours, is about five times brighter than most of its competitor products.

Optoma ML550 review
The nicest palm projector yet

Its pixel resolution of 1,280 x 800 is handy, too, though the 4:3 shape is more suited to older laptops. Not that this is at all an old-fashioned product; 3D readiness makes sure of that (even if extra, separate 3D specs need to be bought), though, arguably, of more importance is its built-in 1.5GB flash drive that can host - and play, thanks to its built-in architecture - all kinds of presentation-centric files and formats.

Look around the back and the sheer versatility of the ML550 quickly sinks in.

Optoma ML550 review

As well as a single HDMI input (that can take a feed from a Blu-ray player or games console as well as from a smartphone or tablet, thanks to its MHL-ready status), the ML550 has a USB 2.0 slot for thumbdrives, a universal I/O slot (as well as a cable that supplies either audio or a feed from a laptop), and a microSD card slot.

Unlike some mini projectors that take their power exclusively from the laptop they're linked to - such as the Philips PicoPix PPX2055 - the ML550 uses a rather large array of cables and separate power pack; but that's the flip-side of its otherwise more versatile design.