Last December, we reviewed the ViewSonic M1 Portable Cinema. One year later, its successor the M1+ enters the Malaysian market sporting wireless connectivity. With the added feature, the ViewSonic M1+ could become the world's most desirable portable projector. But does it really? Here are some thoughts.
The ViewSonic M1+ is basically the identical twin of the M1. Right out of the box, you will be given a manual, a soft felt sleeve (or case), a charging cable and adaptor, a USB type C cable, a remote control and 1 unit of the M1+ itself.
It is truly identical to its predecessor in terms of looks and weight. As for its palm-size, the ViewSonic M1+ will fit in your hands. There is a sense of weightiness, indicating the amount of tech crammed inside the little body. We do have some traditional projectors in our office and we can testify that they are not exactly lightweight gadgets. If the M1+ managed to pull it off in a robust and compact body, it may serve as a benchmark to other mainstream projectors to follow suit - but that's purely my take. It has a mixture of materials but the one that stands out the most is the mesh metal enclosure, which makes up a good portion of the body. Overall, it appears premium.
The swiveling stand doubles as an on-off switch. When it's turned off, the stand conveniently covers the lens like a lens cap, which in my opinion is practically an innovative design. Well, it won the iF Design Award, to begin with.
The hinge of the stand swivels quite solidly and is not loose at all - as it should be, because it is the only component that will support the entire unit when in use. The stand also has a silicone foot, which has a pretty good grip on a variety of surfaces.
The remote control that comes with the unit is also quite essential for menu navigation. It also makes typing of passwords for WiFi connection much easier. So don't lose it.
Ports and Controls
On the left of the body is an enclosure that can be pried open by pulling the fabric tab. Once opened, it will reveal a series of slots and ports namely a Micro SD card slot, DC 19V charging port, USB type C port, HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB port.
These ports enable the ViewSonic M1+ to have multiple connectivity options for users and as such make it extremely versatile to use especially for frequent travelers. In our tests, we even connected the M1+ to an external party box via the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the cinematic experience was literally a blast.
On its rear is a series of buttons, namely the on/off button that doubles as an 'enter' command, volume riders (double as left and right command) and a 'back' button'. When powered up, these buttons will serve as the menu navigation. But I personally still recommend using the remote control as it has proper directional buttons that make navigating a tad more intuitive.
Loud and clear built-in speakers
Before we get into projection quality, I would like to touch upon the built-in Harman Kardon speakers. And truthfully, audio quality onboard the M1+ is quite good on its own. You absolutely wouldn't require an extra pair of speakers unless you're going for something on the higher end. With a great volume range, some bass and crisp clarity, the audio at max can easily fill an entire living hall. Having said that, it definitely won't match the quality of branded standalone speakers but as a built-in unit, it is more than suffice.
The M1+ can also double as Bluetooth speaker, where the projection will automatically turn off once Bluetooth mode is enabled. But do note that the Bluetooth mode is exclusively configured for audio playbacks only.
A capable projector under low light
The ViewSonic M1+ shines (no pun intended) as a projector during the night or in dark environments. Under daylight or in a well-lit room, the projections would definitely be washed out. This is probably because the M1+'s projection brightness is capped at 300 lumens according to the official website.
But use it in the right environments and the M1+ would certainly impress. One more thing to note is that its native resolution is 854x480 pixels. Based on our usage experience, visuals start to become more noticeably pixellated when you stretch the distance between the wall and the M1+ beyond 2 meters.
At a distance of 2 meters, the projection size is about that of an 85-inch monitor. So if you're not picky about the resolution, you would effectively have a really large display, making it a truly portable cinematic projector.
With the swiveling stand, the M1+ can project at any angle within 360-degrees. This means it can even project upwards to the ceiling or downwards to the floor. Coupled with the automatic keystone detection and adjustment, it will automatically correct the projections to be proportionate no matter the projection angle. The auto keystone feature also seems to have improved from the predecessor considerably.
WiFi Connection and Screen Mirroring
The ViewSonic M1+ can connect to WiFi on its own. By doing so, the M1+ can be accessed by smartphones for screen mirroring. In my case, I use an iPhone 11 Pro, and screen mirroring was pretty much a breeze. In mere seconds, the M1+ was able to mirror my phone's screen and replicate video playbacks in full-screen format. For Android, the app to use is Chromecast.
I love this feature the most as I do binge-watch on Netflix and performing a screen mirroring with a projector makes the experience a cinematic one at home.
Other Bells And Whistles
The M1+ has a battery life that can last up to 6 hours of continuous use in one full charge. That is equivalent to about 2-3 movies depending on their length, which is a no-brainer.
Additionally, it also has the auto-blank feature that is inherited from its predecessor, which cuts power to the projection beam when objects are detected too close to the lens (less than 30cm away). It's very thoughtful of ViewSonic to have this feature as projector beams can be quite hazardous to the eyes, considering how much light is being blasted through the lens. All projectors should have this.
Last but not least, the bottom of the projector has a tripod screw socket in case you would like to attach it to a tripod or harness it as a ceiling projector.
The ViewSonic M1+ is quite versatile in many ways, mostly thanks to its small size. Packing the prowess of an average projector, it is a workhorse too.
I could see that a lot of thought has gone into developing the product, from the connection ports to the wireless features. It's palm-sized and light enough to be carried around for presentations and entertainment. Its image quality is also quite decent for its price while the audio can stand well on its own without the need of an external speaker.
It certainly won't rival the more expensive projectors with high-resolution images, but it does its job really well as a small, wireless and cordless unit.
All in all, the ViewSonic M1+ is worth getting if you're looking for a projector for everyday use. As long as you're not picky about the native resolution, you will find it a great gadget to have around work or home.