Pico projectors were supposed to be the next big thing, but they haven't taken off as quickly as some might have thought. Part of the problem is that although they're tiny, they just can't produce a bright enough image to be that useful. For that reason, we had high hopes for Aaxa's L1 since it uses a laser-based light source and an LCoS imager. Yes, it costs more than your typical pico projector does, but for cutting-edge technology, you have to pay a little extra--in this case, about 40 percent more.
Let's start with the good stuff. The Aaxa is nice and compact. It measures 2.1 inches tall by 4.2 inches wide by 0.8 inch thick and weighs 170 grams, including its rechargeable battery (you get about 90 minutes of projecting time from the battery). It offers a relatively high 800x600-pixel resolution and has the capability to play files directly from a USB thumbdrive--Aaxa includes a 2GB thumbdrive with the projector. Most importantly, the Aaxa has built-in support for displaying AVI, WMV, MP3, and JPEG media files, as well as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF files. So if you stick to the compatible file formats, you don't need to lug a laptop around. We like that it has USB drive support, but an SD or a microSD card slot would've been a nice addition.
If you do want to connect the projector to a laptop, Aaxa includes a VGA adapter in the package. Unfortunately, an adapter cable for the iPhone-iPod will set you back another $20; for a $600 projector, Aaxa should've thrown the cable in as a freebie.
Its controls--including five-way navigation buttons--are built directly onto the top of the L1. Its onscreen interface isn't slick or terribly easy to use, but we were able to access files and project them on the wall.