Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector: movie night (review)

8.5

A pint-sized projector with the power of Android TV, the Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector pumps out a big picture on the go.

As the name suggests, pico projectors are considerably smaller, lighter and more portable than traditional full-sized home theatre projectors. There’s an understandable trade-off in terms of picture quality, but that might not bother you if you place a greater emphasis on convenience.

Of course, a projector is only part of the solution on movie night, you also need something to watch and some way to listen to the audio. Traditionally, this has meant plugging a disc player or some other playback device into your projector, along with external amp and speakers.

The Philips PicoPix Max TV makes life easier thanks to built-in stereo speakers, along with built-in Android TV offering easy access to all of your favourite streaming services. There’s even a built-in battery, making it an all-in-one entertainment package for the lounge room, bedroom, rumpus room or even the backyard after dark.

Review: Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector

Australian websitehere
Price $1499 RRP
Warranty 2 years
OtherYou can read other GadgetGuy Philips news and reviews here 

First impressions

If you’re not familiar with pico projectors, you might be surprised at how small the Philips PicoPix Max TV projector actually is. With a 15 × 15 cm footprint, standing 12 cm tall, it’s roughly the size of a stack of eight Blu-ray disc cases. Tipping the scales at 2 kg, it’s light enough to slip into a carry bag so you’ve got a travelling movie show.

On the front you’ll find a lens with a slide-up protective cover, while on the back you’ll find HDMI and USB-C for playing content. You can plug in pretty much anything that can spit out an image, such as a disc player, set-top box, computer or games console. There’s also a USB-A port from playing video files from a USB stick, well as well as a button to sync with Bluetooth devices so you can use the projector as a Bluetooth speaker. 

Alongside these on the back is an SPDIF digital audio port for connecting to an external sound system, along with a 3.5 audio jack for connecting to headphones or external speakers.

Across the top of the projector are touch-sensitive buttons for accessing the projector’s onscreen menus. The projector also comes with TV-style smart remote control for making the most of the Android TV smart TV interface, with dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Google Assistant.

To take advantage of all of these internet features, the projector has built-in Wi-Fi, which also lets the projector act as a Chromecast streaming point for streaming audio and video from your devices. Android TV’s slick user interface and extensive app library make for a great user experience.

Which brings us to the potential dealbreaker, the projector only offers 1080p resolution. While that’s sharp enough to do DVD, Blu-ray and broadcast television justice, it’s not sharp enough to make the most of the Ultra HD original content found on most streaming services. The projector will automatically scale this content back down to 1080p, with support for HDR10 High Dynamic Range but not Dolby Vision. All of this will frustrate people who are fussy about picture quality.

Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector specs

Display technologyDLP
Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixel
Aspect ratio 16:9
Throw ratio 1.2:1
Contrast ratio 1000:1
Focus adjustmentAuto
Keystone correction Auto, 4 corners correction
Screen size (diagonal) 76 – 305 cm
Screen distance 27 – 319 cm
Video inputs HDMI, USB-C, USB-A, Chromecast
Speakers 2 x 12W
Audio outputs SPDIF digital, 3.5 mm analogue
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 + 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0
Battery2100 mAh (four hours playback)
Operating system Android TV
Weight 1.96 kg
Dimensions 158 x 150 x 119 mm

Features

Fire up the Philips PicoPix Max TV and you’ll notice that the lens projects straight forward, so the bottom of the picture is level with the projector. This means you’ll probably need to sit the projector on something tall, like a table or stool, so the picture fits nicely on your projection surface.

Flip the projector over and you’ll find a mounting thread on the bottom, which offers the option of securely attaching the unit to a stand.

Unlike some projectors, there are no built-in legs which allow you to tilt the unit upwards so it projects the picture higher. As a workaround, you can always slip a book or a few DVD cases under the front to prop it up.

At this point, the projector’s auto focus and distortion correction come in handy. There’s no need to mess around with a focus knob. The projector also uses automatic vertical keystone correction to straighten up the picture, plus you can dip into the menus to access 4-corner correction. This can come at the expense of resolution, it’s best to get the projector as square with the wall as possible. 

If you want a larger picture, simply move the projector further from the screen, although this comes at the expense of brightness. Philips cites a maximum picture size of 305 cm, but you might consider this rather optimistic if you don’t want it to look too washed out.

Adding to its versatility, the projector features a built-in battery, which is handy if you’re running an outdoor movie night. Philips cites a four-hour battery life but, at full brightness in Presentation mode, it’s closer to two hours – which should be fine for one movie but won’t get you through a double feature.

Of course, you also need to be able to hear your movie, which is where those built-in stereo speakers come in handy. Mounting the projector up high also helps the sound carry. The projector’s fan isn’t overpowering but is still loud enough that you’ll notice it in the quiet scenes. You wouldn’t want to be sitting right next to the projector all night.

Quality

The Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector naturally isn’t going to compete with a high-end home theatre projector. You’re trading quality for convenience, which might be a fair trade if picture quality isn’t your highest priority.

While the brightness varies depending on the distance from the screen, the bigger frustration for viewers with an eye for detail is that the contrast isn’t high enough to deliver a really great, life-like picture with deep blacks and plenty of detail in the shadows. As the picture gets larger and the brightness drops, the contrast also suffers.

When it comes to brightness you’ve got a choice of four modes: Presentation, Normal, Energy Saver and Super Eco. You’ll want to stick with Presentation mode to get a decent picture.

On an overcast day with some light coming in the lounge room windows, you probably wouldn’t go past a 1.25-metre picture before the picture looks too dim and washed out. Draw the curtains and you could go up to around 1.75 metres.

That’s when watching a TV show, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where picture quality isn’t so important. Switch to a movie like Dune and you’ll want to get the projector a bit closer to the screen, shrinking down the picture for a brighter image with better contrast. Especially if you’re watching a movie with a lot of dark scenes.

Likewise, the built-in stereo speakers deliver decent sound when you’re watching a television show which is dialogue-heavy with the occasional music. It’s loud enough to fill a decent-sized room and even carry in the backyard. Fire up an action move and it’s going to get a little murky with lots of explosions and a frantic action soundtrack.

After dark, you can naturally go even larger with the picture. Watching television, you might be happy with the quality of a giant 3-metre picture, but the contrast struggles to the point when you lose a lot of detail in some actors’ faces. You’d probably pull back a bit for the sake of picture quality. Watching a movie, you’re more likely to scale the picture size back to around 2.25 metres, if not smaller, before you’re happy with the picture.

Keep in mind, this is all on the assumption that you’re projecting onto a projector screen. A cheap 2-metre screen will set you back at least $100, but you’ll pay a lot more for a 3-metre screen. Considering the projector’s portability, you might forgo a proper screen and settle for any flat, white-ish surface. This might let you go large, but it’s going to impact the picture quality even further.

All of this is also on the assumption that you’re entertaining adults who care at least a bit about sound and picture quality. The projector is going to be a bigger hit with kids who are more impressed by picture size than picture quality. Issues with picture quality also become less pronounced when you’re watching animated content.

GadgetGuy’s take

The Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector has a lot going for it. Its Achilles’ Heel is the brightness/contrast and resolution, but to dismiss it over these concerns is to miss the point. Pico projects aren’t about amazing sound and picture quality, they’re about the fun entertainment possibilities opened up by a small, portable projector – like sleepover movie nights and backyard cinema. The inclusion of Android TV takes this flexibility to the next level.

If you’re looking for a projector that will stay put on the one room, this isn’t the option for you. A home theatre projector, or simply a big television, might be money better spent. But if you’re looking for a projector which can easily follow you around the house, or even out the door, then the Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector might be a wise entertainment investment.

Would I buy it?

Maybe, if I could see past the picture quality and just enjoy a big picture anywhere, any time.

Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector: movie night (review)
Easily following you around the house, or even out the door, the Philips PicoPix Max TV pico projector could make for the ultimate movie night.
Features
9
Value for money
8.5
Performance
7.5
Ease of use
8.5
Design
9
Positives
Portable
Built-in battery
Built-in speaker
Negatives
Only 1080p, not Full HD
Limited contrast and brightness
No Dolby Vision
8.5