[REVIEW] Portable projector for tablets : iGo up2020 Pico Projector



iGo up2020 Pico Projector

Ever since I first seen them appear on the web, I always wanted one of those mini projectors, but due to the fairly high pricing, I never actually bothered ordering one.

The idea of a small, portable projector is great. Rather than being limited to just a small screen, you can use a wall or ceiling as a screen, making it so much larger and easier to share a movie with your loved ones on the go or have a fast way to show a presentation of some sort during a meeting.

A few weeks ago, one of my customers asked me about video-settings for the iGo up2020 Pico Projector, which is, at about $140, an in-expensive alternative to the $500+ portable projectors on the market. After I did some research on the device itself and came up with some basic settings that worked for it, I decided to pick up one myself as well, and have been playing with it for about a week.

If you have read some of my other reviews, you might have noticed I’m not too big on specifications, connections, features, options, menu settings and all that, and focus more on how it works for my own actual use, which is mainly video playback, so here is how the iGo up2020 Pico Projector holds up for me:

What do you get:

Surprisingly, for the low pricing, the iGo actually comes fairly complete. In the box you will find the device itself, which is about the size of a pack of cigarettes (100′s), a quick-start guide, the battery, power adapter, mini (!) HDMI cable and a mini-HDMI to micro-HDMI adapter.

How does it work:

The iGo itself has a mini-HDMI port on it, and while I don’t have anything else that actually has such a port, the included micro-HDMI adapter enables you to connect it directly to most tablets (Xoom/Playbook/A100 etc) and phones that have HDMI-out, which is nice. If you do want to connect the projector to a full-size HDMI port, you will need a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable or adapter though.

In addition to the HDMI port, it has some build-in memory (50MB or so) that you can use to store pictures on, and while the memory isn’t enough for movies, it does have a MicroSD slot that takes SDHC cards of up to 32GB.

Of course, just like all projectors, it doesn’t like light too much, but at a reasonable distance, it is not too bad:

Even using the projector on a dark wall doesn’t seem to bother it too much, as you can see in the picture above.

To give you an idea of how it looks in a darker environment, I created a video and uploaded it to Youtube. I’m sorry in advance for the poor quality of the video, but besides trying to record something in a less than optimal lighting scenario, we are still dealing with left-overs from a home-improvement project, so the camera setup, well, lets say it involved duct tape. For the Youtube video, I had the Pico Projector play videos from a MicroSD, and connected it to a collection of different tablets and my phone.

And a picture (too dark to give it true justice) from outside on the deck, pointing to the side of the house from 6ft (video height on the actual wall is about 4 feet to give you an idea):

I tried 12feet as well, which basically filled the wall completely, but because of the darkness, the pictures didn’t offer much to look at:

Again, the quality of the pictures is crap compared to what it looks like. At 12feet, the Pico Projector is perfectly watchable, and would serve perfectly for a movie or game night outside with a BBQ.

I haven’t put on too many hours of playback on it yet, but the one thing I did run into is that the battery life is limited. The specs claim about double the life of what I managed to get out of it, and unfortunately, the device just shuts off without warning. If you use a tablet for watching your content, its not too big of a deal, but if you are watching a show using the projector itself, trying to find your spot again after it died is a pain.

Video playback:

As mentioned, with a MicroSD card, you can use the iGo without having to connect it to a device. When it finally arrived, I was hoping I could just take the card from my Xoom and plug it into the projector to play the movies I already had, but unfortunately it didn’t like the file format (H264). After creating videos using a number of different settings, I found the settings the iGo would like to play (1.5GB or so for a 2hr movie):

While for its own video playback the settings are a bit limited, because it is a projector, the quality is surprisingly good. If you want smaller video files, you could even go as low as this:

and still have an enjoyable video playback experience, but at about 1/5th of the file-size (about 400Mb for a 2hr movie).

Using the (mini) HDMI connection, the iGo doesn’t seem to care about the connection. I connected the Xoom without any issues (played MineCraft on it a little), the Playbook in both 720p and 1080p mode, and the iGo just displayed whatever it needed to display.


* The price. The iGo sells for $150 online, but with some digging you can find it for less than that. If you do find your deal, make sure you google for coupon codes to get an extra $5 off or so.

* Its portable. The size of a pack of smokes, that’s all.

* It works. The video format limitation is a small gripe but if you just convert your videos using the proper settings, its easy to carry a large collection of videos with you without having to use anything else.

* The Range. In a normally lighted room, you can get a watchable projection even at about 6 feet. In night (1am) darkness, I managed to project a watchable video on the place of a neighbor, which was about 150 feet away. Projecting on the shed, which was about 60 feet away looked great, however, the shed was too small to hold the actual video.


* Battery life. Whatever you do, don’t rely on the battery to last. Always use it with the adapter. While the battery might give you an hour of video playback, having it turn off in the middle of a movie and having to spend 10 minutes to get back to where you were is no fun.

* Mini-HDMI connection. It comes with a cable and an adapter that enables you to connect it to tablets and such, but mini-HDMI is maybe 1/4th of an inch smaller than full HDMI, so why bother?

* The speaker. Its nice it has a build-in speaker, and with the controls on the projector you can adjust the volume a bit, but the quality isn’t the greatest.


The uses for a portable projector like this one are virtually unlimited. With its capability to project even in lighted rooms, its great to take with you on a trip and watch movies in the hotel or use it for a quick presentation during a meeting without the need of turning off the light completely (it helps though), and with the excellent performance in the dark, imagine a movie night at the camping ground, or watching a game outside on a larger than life screen, for only a fraction of the price of a similar-sized TV.


The iGo Pico Projector is a winner for me. Besides the minor gripes for the video format, the battery and the speaker, the actual projection capabilities are great. For the $140 I was expecting something that would best be classified as a toy or a gimmic, but the results I have gotten from it are very very impressive. Of course it doesn’t hold up to a $3000 projector, and I have no way of comparing it to one of the more pricy portable projector devices out there, but if you just want a small projector, you can’t beat this one in terms of value for money.

For additional information on the iGo up2020 Pico Projector, visit the following link: http://store.theflip.com/en-us/products/Product.aspx?SKU=A3P0001

With some googling, you can find great deals. While I paid $136 for mine, I just found a deal for $129 on dealnews.com. Once you find a site you like, google for coupons for the site to see if you can shave off a few bucks more :)
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I've been walking past these things in the store for some time now thinking they were junk. I think I'll look at them more seriously now. I've been digitizing my 35mm slides (About 6K of them) and this looks like it would be a perfect mini "slide" projector (w/o the trays and boxes of slides to tote around).

As a stand-alone projector:
1. What image files, if any, are supported?
2. What size images would you recommend?
3. Can I go directly to a particular folder/sub folder?
I've been walking past these things in the store for some time now thinking they were junk. I think I'll look at them more seriously now. I've been digitizing my 35mm slides (About 6K of them) and this looks like it would be a perfect mini "slide" projector (w/o the trays and boxes of slides to tote around).

As a stand-alone projector:
1. What image files, if any, are supported?
2. What size images would you recommend?
3. Can I go directly to a particular folder/sub folder?

I didn't try an images myself, but just loaded a bunch of different-sized images on the internal memory.

It does not like PNG images.

The largest JPG ones came from my DroidX, 3200x1800 or something like that, and they displayed fine. It takes a while for it to generate thumbnails, which seems to be directly tied to the size of the images. Since it is designed to work great with the Flip camera's and because the specs say it outputs 720p, I would suggest to use 720p as a resolution for images on it to speed things up a little. Just as with video, going a tad smaller than that, because its a projector, will not hurt the quality that much, but 320x240 is a bit low for still-images.

Folders work. I tried 2-level nested folders as well (folder inside folder).
Thank you for the information, next time I'm at the store I'll take a closer look at these projectors.
Thank you for the information, next time I'm at the store I'll take a closer look at these projectors.

You are welcome, Spider,

I was skeptic at first, but it really is an impressive little device
With the carpet put in, we have been moving some furniture around, and in the bed room we now have a huge blank wall, so I figured I'd try the projector on it, and it works great.
However, with the tv and video playback equipment basically on the same wall, I went to Best Buy yesterday to find a way to get the video signal to the other side of the room. Of course I can easily connect the projector to a tablet, but with a Tivo and a Bluray player in the same room, I wanted to be able to use those as well. After digging around through the cables, and not being able to find what I was looking for, I asked a sales-rep, and they just got something in that would do the job, a wireless HDMI transmitter-receiver.
It as a bit more pricy than the projector, but since I needed to find a way to get the tivo signal to a different room anyway for my wife, I figured I would give it a shot.

this is what I picked up:

MyWirelessTV Multi-Room Wireless HD Video Kit from Actiontec

It runs at $229 for a transmitter and a receiver. Additional receivers (and transmitters) run for $129.

Anyway, I placed the transmitter near the TV equipment, and the receiver on the other side of the room near the projector, and thats it.

Now, I can just plugin the bluray player or the tivo in the transmitter (and it has an output to the TV as well so you can leave it connected), and the receiver will pick up the video and audio wireless, and I get the output on the projector.

For the other room, I just have to pick up another receiver, and its good to go.

The kit has an IR redirect as well, so if you do use it in another room, you can just use the remote to change channels on the tivo, or hit play/pause on a BR/DVD.

I haven't done too much testing with it yet (new website location, DVD Cat release etc) but I did get out in the living room which is about 30 feet away, and had a clear signal and could control the tivo with the remote.