REVIEWED: JmGO View portable projector

With HD, 3D and stereo sound, this cable-free one-kilo DLP projector is aiming for a place in business traveller’s backpacks

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Are your business presentations up to scratch? There are armies of folk out there travelling the world making on-the-hoof presentations, but most of them are saddled with appalling projections, whether they be from installed beamers or those puny portable pico projectors. Cue JmGO‘s View, a sleek and highly polished tube-shaped projector that’s easy to carry. It will make your potential clients swoon.

Beyond pico

Now on its last few days on the IndideoGo crowdfunding website, the one kilo-heavy JmGO View covers all the basics, and more. It does HD (at the minimum 1280×720 pixels), it’s got HDMI to connect to a laptop or Blu-ray player, and 16GB of storage for files, thus creating wireless presentations. Oh, and there’s a USB slot that reads files or a mouse, as well as Bluetooth, WiFi and Miracast, an app to control it with (though only on Android for now) and – quite unexpectedly – built-in apps for Netflix, Facebook, Skype, Ted, Twitter, XBMC and YouTube (we’d have settled for Netflix and YouTube). And, of course, you can ‘cast’ from phones, too. Awesome!

Battery life

Three hours battery is enough for a presentation, thanks to its whopping 15,600mAh battery, which will also play eight hours of music when you’re back in your hotel room celebrating. Music is via some built-in stereo speakers – one either end of the tubular design – and impressive it is, too. Seriously, there are few projectors of any size with stereo speakers, let alone stereo speakers with enough welly for impressive music. They easily drown-out the projector’s fan.

Set-up & sounds

The 229x72mm, Android 4.4.4-powered JmGO View can, in theory, create 180-inch images. However, in our tests on a 80-inch projector screen we settled on 60-inches as the maximum size to retain enough detail to call it HD. That was about 60 inches from the screen, which makes the maths easy. The settings menu gives you digital zoom and keystone correction to get a dead-on image, though there is one limiting factor; that excellent magnetic roller support (a machined piece of aluminium weighing 120g and with a concave silicon layer) is great for adjusting the height of the image, but it doesn’t keep it 100% level; a wonky horizon is almost inevitable. And that’s where a tripod with a ball-head might come in useful thanks to an adaptor on the undercarriage (though the small flexible tripod we tried didn’t work – the JmGO View was just too heavy for it). Still, a tripod adaptor on a PJ? Why did no-one think of this before?

Image quality

The electro-motion focusing – via a direct shortcut button on the remote – worked really well in a blackout (which is where this projector does its best work), but not close-up, where it struggled to focus. A manual focus wheel would have been much more reliable; digital is not always superior. Mind you, its 250 lumens proved enough for almost every kind of MP4 and MOV videos (it plays not other flavours, sadly) we threw at it. The user interface is easy to work and has plenty of options, though ‘normal’ and ‘bright’ are a tad simplistic. The 3D glasses supplied worked well, too, though they do remove a lot of brightness from the otherwise excellent, crosstalk-free 3D images. However, that reduced brightness is something the JmGO View can ill afford, because at no point did the images look as detailed or as smooth as on a ‘proper’ Full HD projector connected to a Blu-ray player. But they’re perfectly watchable.

Problems & packaging

If the JmGO View is primarily for presentations, then why couldn’t we play PDFs, Word, Powerpoint and Excel files stored on a USB stick? JPEGs, MP4 and MOV videos, and all kinds of music files worked fine. It turns out that to support those kind of files you need to download the WPS Office app from the Google Play Store, though native support would have been nice. What this product is also saddled with is bad packaging; the kind that looks immaculate when you ‘un-box’ it, but must then be torn to shreds just to get the product out. Boxes within boxes, it’s all packed-in far too tightly; that’s something for the designers to look at for the final version. Given its sleek size, perhaps the product should come with a soft protective bag, too. We’re also slightly concerned that some of the messages on the screen are in Chinese, but, then, this is a pre-production sample.

Hyperbole or hero?

Some of the marketing hyperbole for the JmGO View is just too much. For example, would you use a portable projector while camping and ‘watch movies under the stars’? I hope not. Yes, you could take the JmGO View camping, and you could also use it in a hotel room, but despite video always being watchable, it’s with presentations and photos that it’s truly designed for. With an easy set-up and an innovative design, here’s hoping the JmGO View goes to mass-production – and also gets a brighter, Full HD upgrade in the near future. If you like the idea behind the JmGO View, back it now.

Price as reviewed: US$599 (Early Bird price is US$449)

Pre-order the JmGo View portable projector