Apple’s Keynote app makes it possible to take your iPad on the road and make presentations without a traditional computer. However, if you’re going to talk to a large group you still need a projector. In preparation for a talk I’ll be giving at the local Apple Users Group, I have been experimenting with Keynote ($9.99; app2.me/2481) and the AAXA M1 Plus Micro Projector ($339; aaxatech.com/products/m1_micro_projector.htm).
Keynote for iPad
So far, my experiences presenting from an iPad have been mixed, due in large part to restrictions on the iPad version of Keynote. Ideally, a presenter would be able to see the same screen or even a presenter’s version complete with speaker notes, on the iPad. But this is not the case with Keynote for the iPad. When connected to an external projector, the presenter only sees back and forward arrows with a few instructions. The presenter can use a finger to draw circles and lines for emphasis, just like using a laser pointer, but you have to look at the projected image, not the iPad, to see what you are drawing. I am hopeful that Apple will enhance Keynote to make it easier to use, but for now, I will continue to present using my MacBook Pro. I am considering using Keynote Remote on my iPhone ($0.99; app2.me/2494) to control the presentation, but this requires that both the iPhone and MacBook Pro are connected to the same Wi-Fi network or, with the latest update to Keynote Remote, the devices can connect directly via an Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi arrangement.
The M1 Plus Micro Projector
The M1 Micro Projector did an able job in dark and somewhat dim rooms. It delivers 66 lumens, and the difference between it and my 25 lumen Mitsubishi Pocket Projector PK20 is like night and day. It still doesn’t perform well in brightly lit rooms, but it’s far more portable than projectors that do.
AAXA also offers the M1 iPod A/V Cable ($19.99), a short cable that plugs directly into the iPhone or iPad’s port and connects it to the projector. It’s not only less expensive than Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter ($29), the AAXA cable has a mini-USB port that allows you to power your iPhone or iPad while displaying a presentation through the projector. The Apple VGA adapter does not.
You might still want Apple’s cable for higher quality presentations, as the AAXA projector’s screen resolution is 800x600, but their iPod A/V cable only delivers 640x480 where Apple’s cable delivers up to 1024x768. I did notice some flickering when displaying certain Keynote images. I would not expect Steve Jobs to use it on his next product unveiling, but the portability makes the Micro Projector nice for on-the-go presentations.
The M1 Plus Micro Projector has a built-in speaker with ample volume, which helps because the noise produced by the projector’s built-in fan is noticeable. The device runs off AC power, but the projector can also be powered by an optional external, rechargeable battery pack that connects to the unit’s USB port. The battery pack is priced at $79 and can power the projector for 1.5 hours. AAXA also offers a $10 software program that lets you project from your Windows PC over USB. Finally, the projector has a slot that accepts SD cards. You can save specific media files to an SD card, insert it into the projector, and play them directly. (The M1 Plus will play AVI, MP3, JPG, 3GP, RMVB, RM, VOB, and DAT file formats.
The P1 and P2 Pico Projectors
At just under a pound, the M1 Plus Micro Projector is pretty portable. If you’re looking for an ultra-portable solution, check out the AAXA Pico Projectors. The manufacturer sacrificed brightness for size: The P1 Pico ($219) delivers 12 lumens and weighs 6.35 ounces; the P2 Pico ($319) delivers 33 lumens and weighs 9.9 ounces. Either model fits easily in your hand and includes a built-in rechargeable battery that provides 45 minutes of use. The Pico P2 offers better brightness than my Mitsubishi and is a lot more portable—we’ve come a long way.
More than a business solution
Unfortunately, not all iPhone apps support video out. In addition to Keynote, you can use projectors with YouTube, Videos, and Photos (for slideshows). More apps are expected to do so soon. As mentioned, these are not projectors for bright rooms. AAXA focused on portability, and in my opinion they succeeded at that. If Apple enhances Keynote, we’ll have a truly portable presentation solution!
We usually think of projectors in a business context, but they come in handy at other times. For example, I sometimes project family-friendly movies on our garage door during the summer. Our neighbors bring lawn chairs, popcorn, etc., and we enjoy each other’s company. A portable device that projects a brighter image would mean that I could start the show earlier in the evening—and get the kids to bed on time!