I’ve been looking for a small, portable projector for a while. I’ve wanted something that could be used outdoors on a cool winter night. Something that can be easily packed for travel. With that in mind I jumped at the chance to review the Cheerlux C6 HD Mini Projector (hereafter that mouthful will be shortened to C6). I knew going in that a $70 projector would have compromises. The question is, how many and is the overall package good enough to use?
The C6 is compact. It’s no tiny pico projector but it is small enough to fit in almost any backpack or overnight bag. It measures 8.1 x 6.2 x 3.4 inches and weighs in at 2.1 pounds. It’s pretty light and feels solidly constructed. The review model we received is white with a silver facing. It looks sharp. There’s a single screw-type arm to raise and lower the projector and a manual dial focus ring around the lens.
Around back there are inputs for HDMI, USB, VGA, and RCA inputs as well as a 3.5mm audio out port. The HDMI port is key as many low cost projectors don’t accept HDMI input. Having HDMI makes the C6 a portable Chromecast projector – which is exactly what I want it to be.
First and foremost, despite the misleading product name this is not an HD projector. It’s an 800 x 480 LCD projector that accepts 1080p and 720p input. That’s a pretty slimy way to name a product and I suspect that many that buy this projector won’t realize they aren’t actually buying at least a 720p projector. Now, for $70 I wasn’t really expecting an HD projector. The best I hoped for was a semi-bright projector that could play movies and other content from a Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick. The C6 delivered on that hope and even exceeded my expectations a bit. The picture actually looks pretty crisp depending on the size of the screen you project. I found that a 40-50 inch picture struck the right balance between fuzziness and clarity while also providing a large enough picture for group viewing.
The picture was bright in a semi-dark room or outdoors. The brightness rating wasn’t provided in the documentation and I don’t have the equipment to measure it but I found it to be adequate everywhere but a lighted room.
Focus was a bit of hit-and-miss. The manual focus works well and I never had any trouble getting most of the picture to be in focus. Once the focus is set it stays in place and doesn’t drift like other low cost projectors do. Since it never worked out that I had a perfectly rectangular picture (I propped up the projector to get it to the right height) the focus was always a little different at the bottom of the image. A little fiddling always let me find the spot where focus was good enough and after a couple of minutes of watching my mind just ignored the problem area. I don’t want to give the impression that the focus was horrible. It was definitely good enough to watch. Just not perfect.
The speaker is definitely the biggest let-down in the C6. It actually can get really loud, which is great for outdoor and group viewing. But the sound is tinny. It’s not full and rich at all. It’s just serviceable. Fortunately there’s an aux out jack so the audio problems can be solved with a decent portable speaker. Of course, the unit only costs $70. That price has to include all of the parts, assembly, shipping, and profit so there are bound to be sacrifices along the way.
In many ways the C6 is perfect for the price. It has HDMI, a loud speaker, relatively crisp visuals, and plenty of input options. Considering the thing only costs $70 it’s a real bargain. But if you are looking for a high-performance projector the C6 isn’t for you. You wouldn’t want to make business presentations on this or use it as your primary display. Cheerlux acknowledges this in their store listing. They are aiming the C6 squarely at the consumer that wants a low cost projector and accepts the limitations that brings. In my opinion they’ve delivered all that can be expected at that price and more.