I’ve always been fascinated by projectors. Whether mobile or fixed, projectors seem like an awesome way to create big screens for gaming or movies from seemingly out of thin air. Sony’s MP-CD1 is a perfect fit for that, which was one of the reasons I wanted to try out the device.

While mobile projectors have yet to reach HD quality, their portability alone makes them a very intriguing prospect, especially for uses where a TV or display might not be possible or unavailable.

It’s with this thought in mind that I tested out the Sony MP-CD1 Mobile Projector.

What is the Sony MP-CD1 Mobile Projector?

mp-cd1
Slick and svelte.

The Sony MP-CD1 Mobile Projector is a sleek, small black box that can project images at 854 x 480 resolution.

It has a 2 hour battery life (5000 mAh), built in speakers and has an ANSI 105-lumen (how bright the screen is) output. Sony claims the projector’s bulb lasts for 50,000 hours but we’ve obviously no way to find out whether that’s accurate or not.

mp-cd1
The projector’s about as long as a DualShock 4 controller.

When we say that the device is small, we mean small. The MP-CD1 is only 83mm (8.3cm) by 150mm (15cm), smaller than the Samsung Note 8 or a DualShock 4 controller.

The small size is a major plus point for its mobility, since it can fit in your pocket, in your bag or in whatever storage you have, without taking a lot of room or being heavy.

Its diminutive size actually belies its impressive capabilities, as the device boots up in 5 seconds, and is pretty quiet while in use. There’s just a slight whine of the fans that’s audible (if you’re near it) but in my use, that’s always drowned out by the sound of whatever you’re watching. Even during quiet moments, the whine isn’t disruptive at all.

mp-cd1
It’s basic, but it gets the job done.

If you’re not using it, you can safely store the projector in its own leather case, which is pretty cool. You can even charge it while it’s inside the case (though you won’t be able to see the charging indicator), which is a definite plus in my book.

The image projected from the device is clear enough, especially on larger areas. You’ll need the room to be relatively dark and have a white background (or a screen) for an optimal viewing experience, so make sure to have one ready. The display’s not as sharp as modern TVs (in fact, it’s just a bit sharper than CRT TVs) but you’ll be able to make out details without much issue.

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The only thing you can adjust manually.

It’s pretty much plug and play, with most customization options left out. There’s a small focus slider that you can use to sharpen a blurry image, but that’s pretty much it for adjustments.

The only thing I’ve found to be a tad annoying is that subtitles tend to be a bit blurry, even after adjustments. I was watching Black Summer via Netflix and the text was a bit blurry to read, even though the picture was decent enough.

Revision required.

The project sits off to the side, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

If there’s a downside to the device it’s that it is too insular. There’s no wireless capability at all, which means you’ll need buy a streaming dongle to stream wirelessly.

It’s either that, or use a HDMI cable to connect to your notebook/ gaming console/ PC which is fine if you have a cable long enough. But what if it’s not? Or if you’re projecting from an awkward position, which incidentally is my case.

All the ports on the projector.

I projected the screen onto my bedroom’s ceiling so I can lie down and watch it but getting it set up that way is a pain, due to the machine’s auto-righting feature.

It has an annoying tendency to pick which it thinks is the ‘right’ way to display and there’s no way to manually adjust it. It’s a major oversight, one that can easily be fixed with a button to rotate the screen 180 degrees but sadly it’s a missing feature. I had to constantly readjust the unit, hoping that it wouldn’t decide to rotate the other way the whole time.

Fortunately, the auto keystone correction works just as advertised.

Basically, it adjusts the image projected to be full on, even if projected from an angle. However, I’ve found that there’s a limit to how much it can adjust. If the angle’s too steep, the image won’t be projected properly.

Right way up?

You can screw in a tripod if you have one, but it’s not a must.

If you look closely at the unit’s back, you’ll also notice it has a USB port. Banish all thoughts of using a USB drive or external HDD though, as it won’t register them at all.

It’s just used to supply power for streaming dongles, that’s it. It’s too bad because if the unit can play video files on its own without requiring streaming or a HDMI connection, it would’ve been incredible. As it stands, it’s a missed opportunity.

The unit also has built in speakers but I suggest skipping them unless you have no other choice. The speakers are very soft and sound tinny. Even regular television speakers fare better when compared to them.

However, if you’ve no other choice, they are passable though don’t expect a quality audio experience. I suggest pairing the projector with one of Sony’s portable speakers (like the SRS-XB1), via the 3.5mm jack.

The battery indicator’s at the top. You can’t see it if it’s being charged while in the case.

The biggest drawback for me though, is the battery.

5000mAh lasts for a tad over two hours (the review unit clocked in at around 2 hours 4 mins 23 seconds on a full charge) but it’s nowhere near enough for some movies.

The solution is to keep it plugged in (there’s a USB Type-C port for charging) so that you can keep the projector juiced up the whole time. It won’t extend the playing time by a ton, but it should buy you a half hour at least, even if you’re not charging via a power outlet (I used a portable power bank). Of course, if you’re plugged into an outlet, playing time becomes irrelevant as the unit can stay on as long as you like.

The bottom line.

Our verdict? Wait for the next iteration if you can, buy if you can’t.

The Sony MP-CD1 is a nifty piece of tech.

It’s a great, neat package for a mobile projector and packs some pretty awesome features. It’d be a no-brainer to recommend if not for some rather glaring limitations, such as the inability to manually rotate the screen, a lackluster battery life, weak speakers and a need for a wireless dongle to stream wirelessly.

If Sony would improve on those aspects for the next iteration of the MP-CD1, I’m very sure that the device would appeal to a much larger audience. As it stands, it’s an awesome projector but a very situational one.

TLDR:

Solid mobile projector for viewing movies but some issues (technical and hardware) prevent it from being great. Still, not a bad choice if you’re in a market for one, even if it does have a few limitations.

The Good.
– Sleek and small.
– No fuss set up.
– Decent resolution on a mobile projector.

The Bad.
– No native wireless connectivity.
– No USB support.
– Battery life.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.