Sony MP-CL1A Mobile Projector (review)
4.3Overall Score

Price (RRP): $749
Manufacturer: Sony

What can be more fun than a projector you can put in your pocket? That’s where the Sony MP-CL1A projector will fit. Mobile projector it’s called. Mobile projector it is.

Sony MP-CL1A features (website here)

GadgetGuy reviewed its predecessor back in late 2015  and stated it was time someone made a good pico-projector. There is a real need for mobile projection in sales and marketing as well as just enjoying larger screen movies where a big TV is not available.

The Sony MP-CL1A is a small slab with a laser light engine. According to the specifications, it is capable of producing an image of up to 40 inches. The resolution is 1920 pixels across – that’s the horizontal specification for FullHD – and 720 pixels vertically. That’s two-thirds of FullHD’s vertical resolution.

It’s portable not just because of size, but because it has a built-in rechargeable battery rated at up to two hours operation. According to the specification printed on the unit itself, the capacity of the battery is 3400mAh at 3.8 volts.

Sony MP-CL1A

Two colours available

I see I’ve skimmed over the word “small”. How small? According to my callipers, it’s just short of 150mm long, a hair over 77mm wide, and 14mm thick. Perhaps add a millimetre or so to the width to allow for the controls and connections, which are all on one side. It weighs only 213 grams.

In short, it’s about the same size as a larger Sony Xperia phone model, just a little thicker and heavier. It comes with a nice vinyl pouch. A little plastic bar clips on the front and doubles as a tilt stand and a lens cover.

Connecting the Sony MP-CL1A

The top, bottom and two of the sides of the Sony MP-CL1A are featureless. Except, that is, for a lot of product information printed on the bottom, and a small speaker. The front edge has the projector lens on the left-hand side, recessed into the case by perhaps a centimetre. There is no lens cap.

Sony MP-CL1A

Wired connections and controls

The right edge has:

  • a full-sized HDMI input
  • a 3.5mm stereo headphone/speaker output
  • a standard USB Type-A “Out” socket, so you can use the projector as a power bank
  • a Micro-B USB socket for charging up the projector’s battery
  • a power button
  • a multi-function rocker key

The HDMI input supports the HDMI 1.4 standard – that is, not UltraHD. It’ll work with full HD Blu-ray. It also supports the MHL standard, which provides high definition video from the USB connection on some mobile phones. The MHL “standard” is a pain. New versions were incompatible with previous versions. You need a special HDMI cable with some form of USB socket on the end. Most phones dropped supported for MHL. I guess it would work with a Sony phone. I didn’t bother checking.

Going wireless

Far more usefully, the projector can be fed a signal wirelessly with Miracast. That’s a fairly widespread standard available on many Windows computers and most Android phones. It won’t work natively with iPhones. One of the irritating things about Google Pixel phones is that they won’t work with Miracast. Google would rather you used Chromecast. However, I used it effectively with a Huawei Mate 10, a Samsung Galaxy S7 and a friend’s Sony Xperia.

The nice thing about Miracast is that your phone forms a direct WiFi connection with the projector (it supports dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n connections). The projector does not connect to your home network.

In addition to the 3.5mm analogue output, the Sony MP-CL1A can also connect to an external Bluetooth speaker.