Projectors, particularly portable ones, offer a lot more versatility than a typical screen such as a television or computer monitor. The form factor and ease of use makes it possible to take a portable projector along with you wherever you go, which can be on business or leisure trips, or even to the office and back home. Projectors can also produce much larger screen sizes than televisions; even simple portable projectors can project up to 100 inches in size, depending on the projection distance.
It's this versatility that makes the idea of having a decent, well-equipped portable projector so attractive. Among the leading brands in the business of projectors is ViewSonic, and I'm reviewing the ViewSonic M2e portable full-HD LED projector here. Priced at Rs. 85,000 in India, this projector has plenty of connectivity options, can be powered via a power bank for wireless use, and has built-in speakers from Harman Kardon. Is this the best and most handy solution for on-the-go entertainment and productivity? Find out in this review.
The ViewSonic M2e comes with a remote, and is small enough to take with you in a backpack or handbag
ViewSonic M2e Projector design and specifications
The ViewSonic M2e is, to some extent, a successor to the much smaller, more portable, and more affordable ViewSonic M1. However, as the price of Rs. 85,000 suggests, it's positioned differently; this isn't an ultra-portable projector, but is better considered as a regular home theatre projector with some flexibility in how and where you can use it.
That said, the ViewSonic M2e isn't very large, and definitely isn't heavy. There is a two-driver Harman Kardon speaker system with a total output of 6W alongside the lens at the front, and heat vents on the right side of the projector. There is just a single button at the back for power, along with a 3.5mm Audio-out socket, one HDMI 2.0 port, one USB Type-C port, one USB Type-A port, a microSD card slot, and a power socket for the included power adapter.
The bottom of the ViewSonic M2e has an adjustable kick stand, which allows for a bit of angle adjustment for the projector. This moves freely for precise adjustments, and is tight enough to lock in place once you've found the ideal angle. There is also a screw socket on the underside to mount the projector onto a tripod, if desired.
Unlike many portable projectors, the ViewSonic M2e does not have a built-in battery, and needs to be connected to a power source to function. Ordinarily, this would be the included power adapter, which plugs into a wall socket and connects to the projector. However, the ViewSonic M2e has a USB Type-C port, which can be used to power the device.
It's worth pointing out here that this doesn't mean that any power adapter and cable can power the projector; you'll need one capable of delivering at least 45W of power. Usefully, this can even be a suitably-specced power bank with support for the Power Delivery protocol, which will allow you to use the projector even outdoors or in places where a wall socket isn't available.
The LED projector has a rated brightness of up to 1,000 lumens, and a lamp life of 30,000 hours
A USB Type-C cable for this is included in the sales package, but not an adapter for this cable. The USB Type-C port can be used by the projector to receive an audio-visual signal from compatible devices, in addition to power. Also included in the box are a remote for the ViewSonic M2e, four different plug cords to use with the power adapter (for different countries' plug standards), and a carry case for the projector.
The lens on the ViewSonic M2e has a fixed position, so the size of the projection depends on the distance between the projector and the screen or wall. The projector is stated to project at a size up to 100 inches, with a throw distance range of 0.65m (24-inch projection) to 2.68m (100-inch projection). The ViewSonic M2e is a full-HD (1920x1080-pixel) resolution LED projector, with a rated brightness of 1,000 lumens and lamp life of up to 30,000 hours.
ViewSonic M2e Projector connectivity and features
Primary connectivity for the ViewSonic M2e is through its ports and inputs; HDMI and USB Type-C cover most modern source devices such as streaming hardware, laptops, and gaming consoles, while USB and microSD let you use traditional storage media.
There is also Bluetooth for wireless audio connectivity with headphones or speakers, and Wi-Fi to enable some degree of standalone usability, through apps and screen mirroring. The projector is AirPlay-enabled for screen mirroring from Apple devices, and also works with an app to enable mirroring from Android devices.
The ViewSonic M2e has its own Android-based operating system with a custom user interface on top, which can be controlled with the included remote. You can use Wi-Fi 2.4GHz connectivity to download and install apps from the included app marketplace, but most of these apps are designed for use with touch screens and are difficult to navigate and use with the projector's remote.
There are also detailed settings for the projector, including manual calibration and focus settings, and a file browser to access storage media content. Usefully, the projector itself has 16GB of in-built storage, of which around 10GB is user-accessible. There is native support for media up to 4K resolution, but the projector itself will downscale this to full-HD for projection.
The ViewSonic M2e has fixed optical zoom for the projection, so the size depends on the distance between the projector and the wall or screen
Although I did find a handful of apps that worked, most including the Netflix app couldn't be used with the remote to navigate. It's a nice set of features to have for occasional use, particularly screen mirroring from a smartphone which can help with slideshows and presentations, but you'll want to connect a proper source device to the ViewSonic M2e to be able to use it properly.
As with most portable or semi-portable projectors, the ViewSonic M2e has autofocus and auto keystone correction for easy setup of the projection, and both of these worked well at short or moderate distances. At long distances (close to the maximum recommend range of the projector), I experienced frequent focus issues, and was only able to fix the projection angles with a bit of manual calibration.
Although optical zoom is fixed and this decides the size of the projection, the ViewSonic M2e has a digital zoom range of 0.8X to 1X, which can be used to reduce the projection size slightly. This can come in handy when trying to fit the projection within a screen or wall when the distance or positioning can't be changed, and is a useful touch.
ViewSonic M2e Projector performance
The form factor and features of the ViewSonic M2e gives it a lot of flexibility and makes using it very easy, but the fixed zoom lens means that positioning of the projector is the key to ensuring good performance. Additionally, while the projector has a rated range of up to 2.68m, I found that performance of the projection quality fell considerably at longer distances; the projector is best used at shorter distances.
For much of this review, I had the projector set up to project onto a white wall from about 1m away. I used the Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) as a source device, watched a few video files from a USB drive, occasionally mirrored my smartphone screen, and also watched a few YouTube videos using an app on the projector's own operating system. Performance was largely uniform across sources, but high-quality streaming content on the Fire TV Cube looked a lot better than anything else I watched on the ViewSonic M2e.
Connectivity options on the ViewSonic M2e projector include HDMI, USB Type-C, and more
The projector usually took a while to start up, with the Android-based operating system taking about a minute to optimise apps, and load up the user interface. At distances of around 1m or slightly more, the projection size was around 40 inches or so, which was adequate for most of the situations where I used it.
The projector's native user interface was only really useful to adjust the settings or get to external source devices or storage media; I found the built-in apps too clunky and difficult to handle. With an HDMI source device such as the Amazon Fire TV Cube, the projector simply served as the ‘display', with the source device taking over the actual content management. I also noticed a few strange bugs from time to time, such as the projector refusing to fully power down and rebooting over and over on one occasion.
At the distances and projection sizes that I used the ViewSonic M2e with, I found the picture to be sharp and fairly detailed in the right setting. Watching the visually spectacular Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and a few stand-up comedy specials on Netflix, I quite liked how detailed the picture was when projected onto a dull-white wall. Large projection sizes naturally made a significant difference to sharpness, but the ViewSonic M2e performs well at reasonable distances that make it a good substitute for a 43-inch TV or display.
Projectors need a dark room to work best, and turning off all the lights and watching at night naturally made for the best experience using the ViewSonic M2e. The colours were bright and vibrant, particularly with the trippy comic-book-style animation of the Spider-Man movie. Motion was handled well, and the projector managed to keep up with the fast pace of the image most of the time.
However, dark scenes didn't look too great, because of the obvious nature of the projected picture. During the day with bright sunlight, the projector only made for decent picture when the projection size was kept small, but even something as simple as drawing the curtains to dim the room made a considerable difference in the picture quality, and the projector generally performed well with full-HD content in even a dimly lit room.
Low-resolution content such as SD-resolution children's videos looked decent in dimly-lit conditions, provided the projection size was kept low. While the ViewSonic M2e is stated to be able to project up to 100 inches in size, there was a significant difference in picture quality between small and large projection sizes.
That said, the fixed optical zoom and limited digital zoom meant that I usually had to make do with whatever size I could achieve, given that positioning the projector was often tricky at home. In professional environments such as conference rooms with projector screens and easily accessible power outlets, for example, the ViewSonic M2e could work well as a way to mirror your laptop or tablet screen for presentations, and the portability and ease of use is an added bonus.
Sound quality on the ViewSonic M2e is very good, thanks to the 6W Harman Kardon speaker system built into the projector. Although this doesn't sound very loud, it's more than adequate in close range, good enough for a typical room, and tuned for all kinds of content-based audio. Stand-up comedy specials were fun to watch on the ViewSonic M2e, with the sound well tuned for speech. You can connect to an external speaker if needed, but the convenience of having good built-in sound gives the ViewSonic M2e quite a bit of versatility.
Projectors are typically expensive and the ViewSonic M2e is no exception. At Rs. 85,000, it's around the same price as the Ultra-HD 55-inch Xiaomi OLED Vision TV. However, as far as projectors go, the M2e is an impressive device. It has lots of connectivity options, good video and audio performance, and the ability to go as large as 100 inches in projection size.
The key advantages of the ViewSonic M2e are the portability and ease of use, and this makes it a worthwhile option to consider for both home, travel, and professional projection needs. I wouldn't go as far as to say that this can replace your TV at home, but the ViewSonic M2e is definitely worth considering if you're looking for something that is easy to travel with and use.
Price: Rs. 85,000
- Very easy to store and carry around
- Good connectivity options
- Decent projection performance, even in dimly lit rooms
- Very good sound quality
- Quick, effective keystone and focus correction
- Somewhat expensive
- Fixed optical zoom
- Slow to boot up, occasional bugs in software
- Basic built-in UI