The ViewSonic M1 Mini is the perfect laptop or phone accessory for road warriors who want to give presentations and a spot-on companion for anyone who wants to show photos or watch video in informal settings. Even better, the $169 price is almost too low to believe for what it offers. It delivers both highly watchable video and business graphics with vibrant, saturated colour.
The projector weighs only 11 ounces, and it comes with three swappable panel colours for the top—gray, yellow, and teal—so you can change its look if you like. It measures just 1.1 x 4.1 x 4.3 inches (HWD) including the integrated stand that covers most of two sides of the projector and also serves as a lens cover. ViewSonic offers a variety of swappable panels for the top of the M1 Mini.
The ViewSonic M1 Mini is built around an LED light source rated at 30,000 hours and a native 854 x 480 (FWVGA resolution) 0.20-inch DLP chip. And to make connections easy, the M1 Mini can accept video signals from 640 x 480 up to 1080p, and down converts as needed to its native 854 x 480. ViewSonic rates the M1 Mini at 120 LED lumens and 50 ANSI lumens. This advantage for LED projectors is greatest in a dark room, noticeable at low levels of ambient light, and effectively disappears in brightly lit offices and rooms with lots of bright sunlight. The onboard 2-watt JBL speaker delivers excellent sound quality for such a small projector and enough volume for a small room. However, there is no wired or wireless audio output. It’s also small enough to bring along without a second thought, particularly since its built-in battery charges over a USB cable, so there’s no need to carry a bulky power block.
The M1 Mini offers three colour presets—Brightest, Movie, and TV—that each let you change only the colour temperature, plus a User preset that adds brightness, contrast, sharpness, contrast, and tint settings. Unfortunately, the menu covers almost the entire screen, and repeatedly opening the menu, making a change, and closing it to see the effect is cumbersome. Few people are likely to take advantage of the extra settings for User mode. Very much on the plus side, we didn’t see any rainbow artifacts. As is typical for projectors this size, there’s no zoom—so you have to move the projector to adjust image size, and focusing is a little tricky because focus changes a lot with very little movement. If you have to tilt to point at the screen, you can use either auto or manual +/- 40 degree vertical keystone correction to square off the image. Arguably the M1 Mini’s most serious shortcoming is that if you lose the credit card remote you can’t use the projector, since there are no controls on the projector itself to get past the wake-up screen and chose a source. (Thankfully, replacement remotes are available.) Far more important is that the M1 Mini delivers a more-than-acceptable image for both presentations and video
Ultimately, the ViewSonic M1 Mini proves that some things that sound too good to be true can still be true. It won’t replace your home theater projector, but it can serve nicely if you need a projector you can set up in a basement playroom on rainy days, or take with you, whether for presentations, streaming video or playing videogames in your hotel room, or showing your own photos and videos to friends.
Inexpensive for what it offers; impressive for the price
Delivers highly watchable film and video as well as vibrant, saturated color for graphics
Accepts 1080p input and down converts to its native 854 x 480
Built-in rechargeable battery
No wired or wireless audio out
No controls on the projector; lose the remote, and you can’t choose a video source
Focus wheel is tricky to use, making it hard to get a sharp image