Sony MP-CD1 Mobile Projector Review: Small Device, Big Picture

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With the Sony MP-CD1, you can game on the go without a bulky TV. Sony

[This article originally appeared on Newsweek]

The Nintendo Switch showed the world that console-quality gaming on-the-go is in high demand. PS4 and Xbox One don’t have a convenient handheld tablet setup like Switch, but console portability is now a lot easier thanks to the Sony MP-CD1 mobile projector.

This small projector is a little bigger than a large cell phone, and doesn’t look very powerful. Don’t let appearances deceive you, however, as this small device can create an impressive display. Thanks to several automated settings, you barely have to do anything at all.

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Setting up the MP-CD1 takes no time at all, but you can't fine-tune the image quality. Photo: Sony

Setup for the MP-CD1 is virtually non-existent. All you really have to do is plug in whatever device you want projected via the HDMI cable slot. Once you turn on the projector, the image will automatically adjust to appear as a proper rectangle regardless of viewing angle. It doesn’t always get itself into a perfect viewing experience, but most adjustments are quick and accurate. The image even flips itself to display upright regardless of how you put the projector down on a surface, like the screen of a cell phone. The only thing you actually need to do when setting up the projector is adjust the focus by moving a small slider on the side.

The lack of features is both impressive and a little annoying. While the automatic systems work really well for the most part, you can’t dive into the settings and manually set up the perfect image. Most of the time you don’t need to, but it would have been a nice option.

Once everything is up and running, the MP-CD1 works great. The projected image is nice and bright in just about any light, so you don’t need to wait until night to watch anything. The image was clear, even if it doesn’t have the high-quality resolution of a standard TV. This generally isn’t a problem, but if you’re projecting something like a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, don’t expect to see 4K, or even 1080p, visuals.

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The MP-CD1 works with any device that uses an HDMI cable Photo: Sony

The battery life is surprising. According to the Sony website, the MP-CD1 has a two-hour battery life, but I found the battery to last much longer. I know I played through an entire DLC campaign using the projector, which lasted around four hours. The projector was still going after that, but the battery didn’t last too much longer. Charging the battery back up is pretty quick, and all you need is a USB-C cable.

The only major downside for the MP-CD1 is audio. There is a built-in speaker on the projector, but it is small and doesn’t get very loud. Thankfully, most devices have a way around this. Laptops can be hooked up to big speakers or you can plug in a headset to your controller if you’re playing video games. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the projector itself as well, so you can plug headphones or speakers directly into the device. While this is only a minor detriment, it is another step you’ll need to think about when using the projector.

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The MP-CD1 compared to a Sony smart phone. The projector is about the same size, but is thicker than your average cell phone Photo: Sony

With a $400 price tag the MP-CD1 may seem pricey, but it’s about middle of the road when it comes to portable projectors. Considering the quality and ease of use, it’s a pretty solid deal.

Overall, the MP-CD1 is an amazing little device. For something that can squeeze into a pocket (admittedly, it needs to be a large pocket), the projector is filled with power. Using this as a makeshift TV while travelling or a simple business solution while on the job is incredibly easy, as you’re more or less just plugging in an HDMI cable and adjusting the focus. Audio is a downside, but you’ll be set if you have alternate ways to listen to your content. The MP-CD1 isn’t going to replace your TV (or big projector) at home, but is perfect if you want a big screen on the go.

So what do you think? Are you looking to watch or play on while travelling? Do you use a projector as your main screen at home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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