At $549.99, the Kodak Luma 450 is the flagship model in Kodak’s Luma line, a similar-looking set of projectors that includes the Luma 75, our Editors’ Choice for a pocket projector, and the Luma 350. , our top pick among 854-by-480-pixel palmtops. All Luma models share the same flat, rectangular palm shape, differing primarily in size and features. The 450 is tied for the largest of the bunch, while still being small enough to sit comfortably on a palm, and it offers the highest native resolution. It doesn’t earn a spot for Editors’ Choice, but it offers more than enough to be worth considering. At 1.2 pounds, it’s the smallest and lightest 1080p projector we’ve seen to date.
Small, light and packed with features
Size, of course, is a relative term. The Luma 450 is much larger than the Luma 75, for example, but it’s also small enough to fit in a coat pocket, at 1.3 x 5 x 5 inches (HWD). Like most small projectors that can be battery-powered, it’s built around an LED light source and a diamond-array DLP chip, which offers lower power consumption than TI’s rectangular chips for increase battery life. For the Luma 450, rated runtime on one charge (as well as image brightness) varies across the three power modes, at 1.5 hours for High Power mode, 2 hours for Normal, and 2.5 hours for Eco.
The diamond array chip can also introduce artifacts into the projected image, but these only show up in images with small repeating patterns. They can be a potential problem for presentations that use patterned fills, but they’re not much of a problem for other graphics, or for watching movies and videos.
As with many projectors today (though rare among handhelds), the Luma 450 includes built-in streaming, using Android OS 9 in this case as opposed to Android TV. Wi-Fi is the only choice for connecting to your Internet-connected network. After completing the initial setup routine, you’ll find apps for a number of popular streaming sites installed (including Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu), as well as an app to download more. Note, however, that at least the ones I tested require Kodak’s Luma app to be installed on your phone or tablet, and the mobile device connected to the same network as the projector, to use them. Actually.
Physical setup requires no more than (optionally) connecting to AC power and an image source, turning on the power, manually focusing, and adjusting image size by moving the projector . The unit also has digital zoom and keystone functions for this, but as with any projector, these are best ignored as they reduce brightness and can add artifacts.
Kodak also includes a tabletop tripod in the box, making it easy to aim at anything you’re using as a monitor. In addition to streaming over Wi-Fi, the Luma 450 offers an HDMI port and a USB Type-A port for playing files from USB memory or powering an HDMI streaming dongle. It also supports screen mirroring for iOS and Android devices connected to the same network.
The built-in set of two 1-watt speakers is suitable for use in a small, quiet room. For higher volume or better audio quality, you can use Bluetooth or the 3.5mm audio output to connect headphones or an external audio system.
Image quality: Good enough for presentations, home entertainment
Image quality for business presentations and home entertainment is best described as good enough to be useful, which is about what you’d expect from any projector in this class. The Luma 450 offers only one picture mode and no controls to adjust even basic settings such as brightness, contrast and sharpness.
A sharpness control would be high on my wish list, as the locked setting was a bit too sharp. This was especially a problem for small text that you might want to use in a presentation, as it resulted in ringing which made small fonts difficult to read. But it also showed itself in great detail in photorealistic images. In close-ups of faces, for example, it tended to enhance small blemishes and pores.
Sharpness was less evident in videos and movies, as any movement in the image helped mask the effect. But the combination of over-sharpening and a hard-to-adjust thumbwheel focus control for the best focus left the resolution, in the sense of the ability to resolve detail, a little below that that 1080p promises.
Some colors in pro graphics and movies were off enough to be obvious, with skin tones in our test suite showing a yellow bias in many cases. Also, some colors in the photorealistic images were so oversaturated that they strayed a bit from the realistic range. However, that’s not unusual for LED projectors and forgivable for a handheld. Some people even prefer oversaturated colors. Some images also lost significant shadow in my viewing tests with film and video, but enough staying power even in dark scenes to be able to make out what was happening in the shadows.
Note that there is no 3D support and the input lag is too long for gamers. I measured the latter with a Leo Bodnar meter at 165ms for 1080p, 60Hz input.
Kodak rates the projector at 200 ANSI lumens for the brightest mode. Don’t compare this to the higher LED lumens claimed by some competing projectors. (ANSI lumens are a standard, LED lumens are not.) More importantly, the Luma 450’s image was as bright as I expected from the Note. As recommended by the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), depending on how bright an image you prefer, 200 lumens is fine in a dark room for long sessions to illuminate a diagonal of 55 to 74 inches, 16: 9, 1.0 gain screen. I tend to prefer the brighter end of the range, and in my testing I opted for a 56-inch image. (See our guide to choosing the right projector screen.)
The Verdict: A Tempting Lightweight Projector
If you want a projector that’s as light as possible and a resolution that will display more screen detail than models with 720p or lower resolutions, the Kodak Luma 450 is a strong contender. The AAXA M7 comes close to delivering on the promise of its native 1080p spec, but without onboard streaming, and at around two and a half times its weight.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind a lower resolution, the Kodak Luma 400 720p offers similar functionality to the 450 at a lower cost, while the Luma 350 854 x 480 pixels, our top pick for size and resolution. , also offers similar features, at an even lower price. That said, if you need a projector with a built-in battery, weighing just over a pound, and the highest resolution for that weight, the 450 is the Luma projector you want.
Kodak Luma 450 Full HD Portable Smart Projector
Weighing just 1.2 pounds, the Kodak Luma 450 is one of the smallest and lightest projectors available with 1080p resolution.
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