Philips PicoPix MaxTV – King of the Android TV mobile projectors (review)
The Philips PicoPix MaxTV is a 1080p, DLP/LED, stereo, battery/mains powered, mobile projector with Android 10 TV. It is one of the best, most fully-featured Pico projectors you can buy.
Pico means small. Some Pico projectors you can hold in your hand. Others, like this cube-like projector, pack more power and functionality into the box. Deep inside, they all use a variety of the Texas Instruments DLP tech.
The Philips PicoPix MaxTV is part of the Philips Pico mobile projector range
What is a TI DLP Pico mini-LED projector?
We have seen many and know how these perform – what the upside and downsides are. Upsides – allows for lower-cost, smaller projectors. Downsides – single-chip colours are never as good and simply don’t work unless you have a darker room.
DLP Pico technology is a micro-optical-electro-mechanical system (MOEMS) that modulates light using a digital micro-mirror device (DMD). Each micro-mirror is a pixel on the screen and is independently modulated (moved). Pico DLP is not just for projectors – table lamps, lights, picture frames, displays, and more.
This uses the largest Texas Instruments DLP4710 Pico element at .47”, true 1920 x 1080p with an RGGB LED light (Philips call this four-channel, but that is marketing hype). As it is the largest, it performs better than the others, including the Samsung Freestyle with a DLP3310, .3” 960 x 540 mirror. Samsung is not true 1080p as it displays four pixels (dithers) on every frame, e.g., 1920 × 1080 pixels.
These projectors typically have a half-life (50% brightness) of 20,000 hours at 100% brightness and 30,000 hours at 70% brightness. Then you throw them away.
That is all of them, so don’t let marketing hype tell you otherwise. These should not put you off but make you aware of their limitations and best use. We will highlight these in the review.
Australian Review – Philips PicoPix MaxTV mobile projector Model PPX720/INT
|Website||Product Page and Manual|
|Country of origin||Likely China|
|Company||Philips (Est 1891) is a Dutch multinational with interests in lighting, consumer lifestyle, consumer healthcare, and commercial health equipment.|
|More||Cybershack’s projector news and reviews|
We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.
First impression – monolithic – Pass
It is a matte black cube 158 x 150 x 119 mm x 1.96kg with rear inputs, top touch-sensitive buttons, side and rear ventilation and a front lens with a protective shutter.
Placement – Pass
Rule #1 – make sure you have a darkened room. Rule #2 try and keep the projector level.
The 1.2:1 throw ratio gives 80” at 2.1m, 100” at 2.65m and 120” at 3.2m. Maximum screen size really depends on the ambient light levels. Even though it can do up to 120” (more about bragging rights) the image is poor unless you are in a <20 lumen dark room.
It will project to the front, rear, and front/rear ceiling but not on the ceiling. There is no height adjustment, but a ¼” tripod hole is underneath. Ideally, it should be placed horizontally at the same height as the centre of the screen (more in Keystone).
Note that the 240V power cord (that plugs into the separate power brick) is ludicrously short, so you may need to find a longer one.
Setup – Pass+ with Google Home
Power up and configure Android TV 10. Use Google Home for auto setup and passwords, or manually enter your Google account and Wi-Fi details. You must have Wi-Fi and a Google Account, or this model will not have added smart functions.
Connect to a video source
- HDMI 2.0 (it is not ARC but supports CEC control), which carries audio and video streams
- USB-C is for audio and video from a PC or smartphone with alt DP (Display Port 1.4) output
- Optical SPDIF out for audio-only to a speaker or soundbar
- Bluetooth is TX/Rx, so you can connect a mono/stereo speaker/headphones and a keyboard/mouse/trackpad/game controller.
- Chromecast Audio and Video stream for Android/iOS. To connect a PC wirelessly, you need a Miracast HDMI dongle. If you want to use AirPlay2, you may need an Apple TV or similar HDMI dongle.
We tested all these inputs and its nice to see USB-C for PC/Android/Mac connection.
Auto or manual keystone – Pass
Auto keystone works best when the projector is horizontal (perhaps that is why there is no front height adjustment), so the device needs to be mounted at the same height as the centre of the screen. It will try to compensate for slightly angled placement.
There is a four-point corner correction for more extreme cases. It will try to correct up to about a 45° tilt or off-angle. But it does that by cropping the image and lowering the resolution, so avoid that.
Ambient light adjustment – Pass(able)
It will adjust the light output according to ambient light. Given that you will likely run this at 100% brightness, it is of little use. It can unexpectedly change light output when enabled, even though the room light remains the same.
Remote – Basic – Pass
A four-point wheel and OK button are similar to most Android TV remotes. It has dedicated Netflix, Prime Video, and input source buttons. Other controls are Home, back and volume.
When using Android TV, it is a Bluetooth remote, and in the projector settings, it is IR.
Android TV 10 – Pass
Android TV is found on many TVs. It is like a comfy pair of slippers and works the same regardless of the device. Many buyers now insist on the familiarity and huge range of apps of Android TV, so they buy Sony, TCL and generic TVs over LG (WebOS), Samsung (Tizen) and Hisense (VIDAA). Or they buy the excellent $99 Chromecast with Google TV 4K dongle already built-in to this projector.
But it is not the latest Google TV 11, and I doubt you will see an upgrade. The 5 July 2021 security patch is way out of date. TVs and Projectors are not so much of a security issue, but it is something to be aware of, especially as they can be attack vectors for malware.
Noise – Pass
About 45dB – fan noise is barely noticeable.
Brightness ain’t brightness – explained!
Rule #4: There is a vast difference between advertised projector brightness and projected image brightness.
This delivers a maximum of 900 LED lumens (at the light source – Philips does not reveal this) or 375 ANSI lumens at the lens. That is a maximum of 100 nits brightness at the screen.
For every 2x increase in the diagonal image size, projector brightness (ANSI lumens) needs to increase by 4x to maintain constant image brightness (nits). Ergo the bigger the screen, the lower the nit brightness.
This projector can do 120” in a < 20-lumen room, 60” in a 200-lumen room and 30-40” in 400-lumen office light.
The screen type also impacts image brightness – different surfaces have different reflective characteristics. Most wall surfaces (painted walls and cotton sheets) have negative gain (one lumen in results in <1 lumen out and sucks the life out of the image), so you need a neutral (1:1) or positive gain surface.
Some projectors have settings for different wall colours – this does not. You need to buy at least a neutral gain screen if you want the best image. A tripod-mounted 100” 1:1 portable screen is $198 from Officeworks.
According to Texas Instruments (PDF), minimum image brightness (at the screen – not the LED or lens)
|Dark Room||Dim Room||Lit Room||Bright Room||Outdoors|
|Environment||All lights turned off <40 lumens||Soft lighting at night <300 lumens||Office Light 400-800 lumens||Well-lit room with windows and indirect daylight 1000-1600 lumens||Indirect sunlight (shade) 1800+ lumens|
|Suggested image brightness at the screen||50 nits||100 nits||200 nits||300-400 nits||600+ nits|
Brightness – Pass for dark rooms
It defaults to Super ECO mode (dullest) with options for Presentation (brightest), normal, energy saver and auto. The brighter you push it, the shorter the bulb life, but with 20,000-30,000 hours that is not really the issue. We tested in Presentation mode.
Pre-sets are Cinema, Standard, Vivid, Game and user. This is partly about brightness but more about colour temperature – standard, cold, warm and user. Presentation/Vivid gives the brightest image.
Contrast – Pass(able)
Claimed contrast is 1000:1 (Full-on/Full off), which is closer to 450:1 in real terms (about 30% of an LCD TV screen). That means there are no true blacks, kind of dark grey. Compare that to a basic LED/LCD TV with around 1500:1 contrast.
Colour gamut – Pass
Colours are fairly natural, not saturated despite a noticeable Delta E of 5 (<4 is good). It covers 100% of the older and less relevant Rec.709 standard. That is about 78% DCI-P3 or 58% Rec.2020 of the 8-bit 16.7m colours. Again most TVs perform way better with OLED at 1.07 billion colours and 98% DCI-P3.
While it supports HDR10/HLG, that only means it displays that content to the best of its ability. You can see colour bands, especially in the sky or on green grass.
Sharpness, Motion/Judder – Pass(able)
The image is quite sharp (AI or manual digital focus). You can reduce the screen image by 20% to fit the projection space.
It is capable of a 1080p@24/30/50/60fps (24/50Hz in Australia), but motion scenes were quite juddery. Mind you; any Pico LED suffers from this.
Gaming – Casual – Pass
While latency is about 30ms, it does not have HDMI 2.1 features like VRR/ALLM, and motion tearing is apparent.
Sound – Pass
It has stereo 2.0 speakers, and you can also use it as a BT speaker. It has standard, cinema, or music pre-sets. We tested on standard mode.
While it has one of the better sound signatures of any Pico projector, it has significant sound clipping/compression from 1kHz to 15kHz. Put simply; the speakers cannot cope and cut the tops off the sound frequency. You can’t hear it so much as it makes the sound feel dull.
Otherwise, mid-bass starts at 50Hz, building to 120Hz (high-bass), so there is some bass. It is relatively flat to 1kHz when clipping cuts in. High treble is there but not enough to add a sense of sound direction and a feeling of ‘air’, a reality as though the music were really there.
It is bass heavy and would have been warm and sweet (perfect for music and movies) except for the reduced dynamic range.
But it does not, as the website says. “Immerse yourself with ultra-powerful sound, surround and bass boost’.
The maximum volume is 80dB with appreciable distortion, but back off to 75dB, and it is OK.
You can read more about sound signatures How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide.
Firmware update – USB-C only
The test unit has 1.0.49 firmware. Philips support webpage does not list firmware. In any case, you use a USB-C flash driver to update – not over the Air. We only mention this as it has had many updates since its release, and I suspect will have a few more.
Battery – Pass
Philips claims 4 hours and at 50% brightness and sound playing from video/audio via USB-C, and it can achieve that. Our test video loop achieves two hours at 100% Presentation brightness (that you need) over USB-C.
The 2100mAh battery recharge time using the 20V/4.5A/90W brick was about 4 hours. Some reviews mention this supports USB-C PD charge, BUT THAT IS NOT CORRECT.
Power use ranges from a Super Eco at 35W, standard at 40W, Auto from 40-60W and Presentation to a maximum of 90W at full brightness (3 cents an hour) and .3W in standby.
Tests – Philips PicoPix MaxTV
The tests are in a <20-lumens darkened room, then with office lights switched on at around 300 lumens.
Images in 300-lumen office light
CyberShack’s view – Philips PicoPix MaxTV ticks most of the portable projector needs.
On the negative side is all the issues that plague all Pico projectors – lower brightness and less contrast than advertised and expected. This uses the best DLP Pico element and is the brightest of any Pico projector, so it suffers less.
Still, a video/audiophile will be disappointed, but they would need to spend a few thousand more to be satisfied.
Joe and Jane Average will be delighted as long as they have a use case. That is for grey nomads, small boardrooms, itinerant renters etc. For image and sound quality, it is well head of the Samsung Freestyle 2022 – the portable projector in the round (review).
Will it replace a LED/LCD TV? No. The average cheap 65-75” TV ranges from $799 to $1695, and these produce from 500-1000 nits brightness at the screen (5-10 times a Pico), and some of the better ones ($1695 LG Nano95) will do Dolby Vision and Atmos.
Philips PicoPix MaxTV brief specs
- 1080p@50/60, 1080i, 720p
- LED 20,000/30,000 hours standard/eco
- 900 LED lumens (Philips does not list lumens) or 354 ANSI lumens or 100 nits at the screeen
- 1000:1 FoFo (full on/off) is about 450:1 in usual mode.
- 100% Rec709, 78% DCI-P3 of 16.7m colours
- Fixed focal length with Smart powered autofocus
- Throw 1.21:1
- Digital keystone Horizontal & Vertical
- 2 x 12W speakers
- 3.5mm audio out
- HDMI 2.0 in
- Optical In (SPDIF)
- USB-C data/audio
- USB-A music
- BT 5.0
- Wi-Fi 5 AC 2.4/5Ghz
- Chromecast (no Miracast)
- 2-year warranty
- Quad-core Cortex A53 CPU with 2GB RAM and Mali-G31 GPU – OK, but not a lot of space for buffering.
Philips PicoPix MaxTV, Philips PicoPix MaxTV, Philips PicoPix MaxTV
Philips PicoPix MaxTV$1495
- The best performing Pico projector
- Reasonable image in darkened rooms
- Battery is a bonus
- Reasonable but heavily clipped sound
- Android TV is great
- Auto-keystone does not work well on angles
- Auto-focus can take its time to kick in
- Outdated Android TV 10 and old security patch