- Online video streaming
- Built-in web browser
- Bright and clear image
- Not full HD resolution
- Fan is still quite loud
- UI is dated and sluggish
AAXA is a company that has demonstrated to us time and time again that you don't need a huge projector in order to have a positive projector experience. They've always been surprisingly bright and robust despite their compact size but, up until now, they haven't been quite as "smart" as they could have been. That's changing with the AAXA P450 Pro Pico Projector, a device that comes loaded with all the multimedia functionality you desire, including online streaming.
What's in the Box?
Something that I mentioned in my review of the AAXA M5 late last year was that it lacked any sort of wireless connectivity or "smart" functionality. With the AAXA P450, you now gain the ability to watch YouTube videos over Wi-Fi, plus more. The benefits of this simply cannot be understated.
Opening up the box for the P450 Pro reveals much of what we've already seen before from AAXA. In addition to the compact pico projector itself, you get a mini tripod, a credit card style remote control, the power brick and cord, a VGA adapter cable, and an AV adapter cable, along with the user guide.
The projector itself comes in a mostly glossy white body, aside from the glossy light grey top. It doesn't feel especially premium, as a result, but we also have to recognize that heat dissipation is a priority here.
A Portable HD Projector
Making our way around the unit, we're also faced with very little in terms of surprises. Along the left side (when viewed from the back), you get the power port, the power switch, the AV port, a microSD slot (which still carries the archaic TF-card nomenclature for some inexplicable reason), and the regular full-size HDMI port.
On the back, there is the special VGA port for using the provided cable, a headphone (or audio) out jack, and a USB port for local media. And on the right, you get a focus adjustment dial. Unfortunately, this projector does not come with autofocus, but making the adjustment by hand is easy enough.
Measuring about 6 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches, the P450 Pro is easy enough to pack up and bring with you anywhere.
Say Hello to Connectivity
But now we finally get some much needed connectivity and ease of online video streaming. After setting up the Wi-Fi connection, you gain access to a number of pre-installed streaming apps, as well as the opportunity on install more if you'd like. The pre-installed apps include YouTube, Netflix, Crunchyroll, Vudu, Twitch and Vevo.
Aside from the logo, it looks like AAXA may have just picked some stock images to use here. You'll also notice the "mouse" icon in the corner of some of these. You can connect a mouse and keyboard to this projector via USB for a much better user experience. I found that using either the remote or the controls on the top of the projector still left something to be desired.
Another point of frustration for me had to do with the connectivity too. For some inexplicable reason, the projector would sometimes display a message saying it had lost the connection to the Netflix servers. I do not experience this problem on any of my other connected devices in my home, so I'm not really sure why this is happening. It's sporadic.
Continuing with the stock images trend, another section of the P450 Pro user interface provides you with more work-oriented functionality. There's an email client, which I can't imagine anyone using all that often, as well as a calculator and a calendar. The Office Viewer could be handy though, as it can handle PDF documents, Word docs, and PowerPoint presentations with the best of them.
The mobile mirroring function is a welcome addition too, but your mileage may vary for compatibility. Generally speaking, you will need to have some sort of adapter for this to work, as the P450 Pro does not use any wireless mirroring technology. If you've got an Android phone, for instance, you'll likely need a MHL micro USB cable, assuming your phone can output video via its micro USB port in the first place.
Navigating the P450 Pro User Interface
As I mentioned above, making your way around the UI using either the remote or the controls atop the projector can feel less than ideal. The squishy buttons on the remote don't provide too much confidence, but it does work. This kind of interaction isn't too bad when you're only moving around a menu. However, it definitely gets frustrating with on-screen keyboards.
Also, while viewing a video -- either one streaming online on Netflix or one playing off a USB flash drive, for instance, it may not be immediately obvious how you go about interacting with the app using the remote. The play/pause button doesn't work in certain streaming apps, for instance, so you'll need to push a direction to bring up the media controls, moving the cursor over to appropriate button. It's not ideal.
MEGATechie Smart Little Thing or MEGATechie Pico Pathetic?
You can tell that AAXA was striving to make some rather large strides with this device, attempting to modernize their projector family to align with how people are consuming media today. The inclusion of the video streaming apps is positively huge. The 3D functionality I can live with or without.
Digging into the settings reveals more possibilities too. There's keystone correction, but only vertically and not horizontally. The included tripod isn't really robust enough to support the weight of the projector either. For my part, trying to make your way around an interface like this with physical buttons still feels too archaic and the lack of full HD projection, plus the Netflix connection issues make this a difficult recommendation.
The AAXA P450 Pro pico projector retails for about $400 and is available now.