Uniden ULP1000 portable laser projector

This miniature, battery-powered Uniden laser projector has great colour and is always in focus

Uniden ULP1000
  • Uniden ULP1000
  • Uniden ULP1000
  • Uniden ULP1000
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Always in focus, good colour accuracy, reasonable brightness, slim design

Cons

  • Washed out colours in bright environments, expensive

Bottom Line

Uniden's ULP1000 portable laser projector is a very interesting product. It's delivers some great improvements compared to older battery-powered projectors. It's still hampered by low brightness and mediocre battery life, however.

Would you buy this?

The Uniden ULP1000 is a pico projector that uses laser technology to create an image that’s sharp and colourful. In the right lighting conditions — when the room is dark or dim — the ULP1000 is great for presentations and impromptu slideshows or movies. It's definitely portable, making it useful for travellers who need big-screen projection. It struggles in brighter lighting, but this is a common fault with current pico projectors.

The Uniden ULP1000 is one of the smallest pico projectors we've come across. At 122g and 118x60x14mm it's only slightly larger than a smartphone like the Apple iPhone 3GS. It'll happily fit in a pocket or a small bag, but you'll need to find somewhere to fit the necessary video cable as well. Buttons are arranged on the Uniden ULP1000's sides, with the lens offset to the side on the front of the device.

There are no focus or zoom buttons or dials — these aren't needed. A novelty of the Uniden ULP1000's laser scanning engine is that the picture is always in focus, no matter how close or far it is from the projection surface. If you're giving a quick presentation, or just whipping it out to show a few friends a photo or two, this feature is a definite bonus.

The Uniden ULP1000 comes with a cable to connect an iPhone or video-capable iPod, as well as a dock with a VGA port for connecting a netbook or regular laptop. Any other device you've got should be accommodated by the composite video cable. We hooked the Uniden ULP1000 up to an Apple iPhone 3GS smartphone and a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook.

Picture quality is impressive given the small size of the Uniden ULP1000. Its 848x480 resolution means it can display good levels of detail, especially when playing something like a DVD quality movie over its VGA input. Colours are very vibrant and reasonably accurate when projecting in a dark environment, and the small range of video settings lets you tweak colour temperature and gamma.

Our tests were mostly performed in a dim room, where the Uniden ULP1000 can perform to the best of its ability. In this environment, it has enough brightness to display images with reasonable contrast and clarity. In brighter rooms — we gave the projector a quick run in a room lit by daylight, and a closed room with fluorescent downlights — the ULP1000 struggles. Colours quickly become washed out and fine detail is lost. This is a problem inherent in all current pico projectors, which sacrifice brightness for battery life and portability.

The Uniden ULP1000's battery life of 90 minutes is a little underwhelming. While this is fine for a few short PowerPoint presentations or an uncomfortably long slideshow, you'd be hard pressed to watch a Hollywood feature film without running out of juice. You can run it using the included power brick, however.

The Uniden ULP1000 is a very specialised product. The $999.95 price tag means the Uniden ULP1000 is most likely going to be adopted by business travellers rather than consumers, as it's out of reach of impulse buyers. It performs at its best in dark and dim environments, and doesn't have the brightness to display images and video acceptably in situations that traditional projectors could. If you don't mind these limitations, it will produce good detail and vibrant colour.

Update: Uniden has cut the price of the ULP1000 to $599, which is a significant drop from its original price. It's now a much better value proposition and is accessible to a wider market.

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