The ViewSonic M1 Mini is an ultraportable LED projector trying to break away from hum-drum business meetings. This is worth mentioning because these types of pocket-sized displays are often regulated to office spaces where static spreadsheets and management orientations reign supreme, not so much for general entertainment.
It certainly is enthusiastic for ViewSonic to try and pitch this as a go-anywhere projector, because it tries to look the part on the outside. With a tiny 0.7lb footprint of 4.3 x 1.1 x 4.1-inches and inoffensive white plastic body with swappable color tops, the M1 Mini wants you to know that it’s designed for fun yet relatively practical. One example of its versatility is the integrated stand that doubles as a lens cover when not in use, the 180 degrees of angle compliments the 1.2 throw ratio. This also ensures that it can be used in flat or most upright positions without blocking the very audible fan outlet.
Connectivity is stripped down to the absolute basics because that’s to be expected for a projector that can fit in your hand. You only get one of everything for HDMI, USB 2.0 Type A and Micro USB for power charging. No, the last detail wasn’t a mistake, the M1 Mini has a built-in battery that’s supposed to last about 2.5 hours from full, reaffirming the notion of this being travel-friendly for almost any occasion. During my testing the battery did indeed kick in, but I only managed 80-85 minutes of viewing time, or roughly half the advertised life.
You also get a remote and is essential to the M1 Mini functionality, with everything from source navigation to changing settings (aside from audio volume) is done with the credit card-style clicker—remember to keep it close to you because its very easy to lose.
How does it generally look? Well, if your expectations are centered for super-casual movie nights or keeping children preoccupied then the M1 Mini gets the job done with minor limitations. This obviously works best at night or dark rooms devoid of any light, with 120 lumens of LED brightness good for 30,000 hours, and that’s enough to watch most content with non-discerning eyes. Resolution is also adequate for this tiny box with a native 854×480 (WVGA) resolution; what does WVGA mean? It’s well below native HD quality, but don’t worry about it because the picture is good enough for vivid colors and contrast in relation to the somewhat dim lamp source. The M1 Mini can accept scaled 1080p images but it doesn’t make too much of a difference, at least the option is there for Windows PC and Mac ecosystems.
Watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi and binging episodes of The Boys on Amazon Prime was satisfactory, with a lot of the details being projected in softer edges. Onscreen text especially when hooked to a computer tended to suffer the most degradation but maintained (for the most part) readable; again, an inherent result due lower resolution and minimal lumen count, but adequate considering what the M1 Mini tries to do. Sound is another included feature works for the price, with internal speakers coming in flat but with plenty of volume levels that works well in smaller apartments and medium living rooms alike. ViewSonic is usually good about supplying basic audio functionality and this projector is no different, except the internal 2W mono driver is supposedly from JBL.
As a formality, the M1 Mini has media options in the sense that basic mpegs/avi and mp3s can be read from whatever you connect to the USB Type A port. Results (as you expect) are a mixed bag with some media files playing and most having some conflicts with the UI. We doubt many will use this option and simply plug whatever media they have through the HDMI port, but it is there if you want to use it.
With a street price well below $200, the ViewSonic M1 Mini LED projector delivers a reasonable presentation without overpromising its worth. With very few gimmicky aspects like the swappable color tops and battery life, this is a competent display that can be used anywhere there’s an open wall and some spare downtime to watch something. Obviously you won’t be replacing a regular home projector and never meant to, but it is convenient and a decent backup under the right conditions.