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3M launches $299 Roku Streaming Stick-powered micro projector

3M launches $299 Roku Streaming Stick-powered micro projector

Promising big-screen action in a surprisingly small package, 3M is teaming up with Roku for a streaming portable projector that comes with Roku’s new Streaming Stick, providing immediate access to movies and TV shows from Amazon, Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, and other online services, provided you have a Wi-Fi connection.

The device—called, not surprisingly, the 3M Streaming Projector—can now be pre-ordered at Amazon.com for $299, with shipping slated for October 22nd. For a limited time, those ordering the projector can get a $20 in free Amazon videos with their purchase.

The DLP-based Streaming Projector supports WVGA resolution, which is commonly used by many portable devices, including smart phones. It wasn’t clear from the product literature, but we’d imagine the light source is LED, with a claimed brightness of up to 60 lumens, though typically this spec is exaggerated. Though the press release wasn’t specific, WVGA is typically 854×480 resolution, below that of either 720p (1366×768) or 1080p (1920×1080) high-def resolutions.

The projector is small—just over 4 inches long and 4 inches wide—and is attractively styled, with a curved, sloping design. It weighs only about a pound, and works off either AC power or a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which the company says will last for just under 3 hours.

3M says the projector can project up to a 120-inch image on almost any flat surface, such as a wall, ceiling, or projection screen, but the image size will likely vary by how well you can control the light in the room. (Image size increases, but brightness decreases, as you move the projector farther away from the wall or screen.) The projector has a built-in speaker, or you can listen via headphones or an external sound system using the stereo mini-jack.

The Roku Stick plugs into a port located in the rear of the projector’s housing. Presumably it’s an MHL-enabled HDMI port, but it’s not clear whether it will only accept the Roku Stick, or whether it could be used with other source components, since there are no other video inputs.

While the Streaming Projector, bundled with Roku’s Streaming Stick, is a complete streaming package, there are competitive options. For example, there are a good number of small pico projectors in the same price ballpark. Optoma’s PK201, for example, is even smaller, sells for about $250, and sports an 854×480 resolution, though it’s claimed brightness is only 20 lumens. It uses an LED light source, and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Of course you’d still need some type of streaming media player, such as a Roku 2 or Apple TV, which can add $50 to $100 to the price if you don’t already own one.

The Streaming Projector is, in fact, the first product we’ve seen bundled with a device. Roku has said there will be about 15 “Roku-ready” TVs, from brands such as Insignia (Best Buy), Hitachi, and Apex. Like other Roku devices, the thumb-sized Streaming Stick, which costs $99 if purchased separately, provides access to more than 600 channels and apps, including free channels such as Crackle and Disney as well as subscription services including Amazon, Hulu Plus, and Netflix.

Last year I had a chance to play around with Optoma’s PT100 PlayTime projector, a pint-sized sub-$200 model (at the time) with many similar characteristics—and despite having full-blown projection-based home theater in my house, my family had a great time watching movies and playing video games in my son’s room and out on our deck (with a sheet as the screen.) If you’ve looked at the various portable streaming options, let us know what you think about the Streaming Projector.

For more on streaming devices, see our story, “Set-top boxes that make you the program director.”

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