I recently had the opportunity to play with Mitsubishi's tiny PK20 DLP video projector. The first thing you notice about it is that it is beyond tiny. Not much bigger than a stack of CDs (the projector is 4.8" wide x 3.8" deep x 1.9" high), the PK20 boasts an extremely long lamp life, considering that the LED lamp can last up to thousands of times longer than a conventional projector lamp. Like many "normal sized" projectors, the PK20 offers VGA, S-video, and composite video (RCA jack) in. It also features audio in and out (for use with its tiny 1W internal speaker) as well as an SD card slot (the PK20 can display a slideshow directly from an SD memory card). It comes with a tripod mount, remote control, and carrying case. There is also an optional lithium-ion rechargeable battery.

The manual, included as a PDF on a CD-ROM that comes in the box, rates the maximum projection size at 60”, from a projection distance of approximately 6’ 8”. The PK20 also offers a bevy of common image controls such as keystoning, brightness, contrast, gamma, and color temperature adjustment. It features a native resolution of 800 x 600 and while Mitsubishi does not include a lumen measurement, I have seen rumors of it being anywhere from 50-150 lumens.

While this projector is not bright enough to use in a well-lit room in the daytime, it is surprisingly bright. In slightly dimmer situations (lights off or shades pulled), the image held up very well. I found it ideal for projecting onto a scenic model. I was able to cover the entire model quite easily with crystal clear imagery. Since almost every set begins life as a model, I can see this becoming a useful tool for previsualizing theatrical projections in a much cheaper and faster way than doing a computer simulation of the set.

The images from the PK20 were as sharp and deep as on a normal sized DLP projector, although putting it into "bright" mode caused the image to take on a greenish hue. Moving images looked great through it as well, with deep blacks and nice, smooth gradients.

After connecting it to my laptop I used Apple Keynote to quickly assemble some sample images in order to illustrate the projection concept to the director and writer of the show. Of course, they were almost as busy marveling at how tiny the projector was as they were looking at the imagery itself. I can see that the simple act of plugging in this projector will elicit almost as many oohs and ahhs as what I am using it to display.