Pico projectors is a term that seems to cover a very wide range of todays smallest projector. While pico projectors were intended to refer to very small projectors that weigh under a pound (some would say under a half pound), often pocket, and other small LED projectors tend to get swept up and called pico projectors.
Generally as of 2016, true pico projectors are definitely sub-1 pound, have internal batteries, and almost always output no more than 100 lumens, many producing 10 to 50 lumens.
These Pico projectors primarily use LED light engines, but there are a few laser light engines out there out of the perhaps 100 assorted Pico projectors available in the US. Many of these Pico projectors can be found under names you’ve never heard of, on Amazon, however there are major brands that make them as well, including Vivitek, Optoma, and Sony.
Most of the pico projectors on the market can run 1 to over 2 hours on their internal batteries. Since most have 6 or 12 volt chargers/adapters, external battery packs can be created as well, even if not offered by the manufacturers. At this time we are unaware of any true Pico projectors with full 1080p resolution – although there are some larger pocket projectors that are. There are 720p Picos.
These pico projectors are no match for the larger pocket projectors, which we consider to be more “serious” in their use for business, education, and home, but the pico projectors can do a 2 or 3 person presentation is someone’s office with the lights down, with perhaps a 40” image projected). They don’t have the power to fill larger screens with full lights on. Pico projectors are probably most popular as home entertainment devices, but again, not powerful enough for a really large screen. Still they can project a good deal larger image than one could watch on a laptop, when streaming movies, general TV or sports. That makes them a fun gift idea for the millennial who has “cut the cord” from cable / satellite.
Pricing on Pico projectors runs from a bit under $100, to about $400 street price, with the more expensive ones brighter, and higher resolution.