It's got a tiny price to match its tiny size, but in some ways the P6X's performance is big.
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
The AAXA P6X is a pint-size portable projector that's remarkably bright, has a huge battery and costs less than a phone. I wasn't familiar with AAXA projectors before this review, but the specs looked so good on paper I just had to test it out. After all, 1,100 lumens for $360 just doesn't seem possible, especially from something that can fit in my hand.
The reality is more of a mixed bag. The color and contrast are far more in line with what I expect from an inexpensive projector; in short, not good. The image processing is subpar and the tiny fans get quite noisy in the projector's brightest modes. There's no built-in streaming either, but that's not a huge deal to me since the streaming built into most portable projectors is mediocre at best.
The overall result is a bit of a pleasant surprise. In a few key ways, particularly in brightness, the little AAXA runs circles around most other portable projectors. In other ways it falls short, however, and my favorite in the category is still the somewhat more expensive Anker Nebula Mars II Pro. For its price, light output and battery life, however, the AAXA is hard to beat.
Get a Load of This Teeny, Tiny AAXA P6X Pico Projector
The P6X is impressively small, 6 inches on a side, and less than 2 inches tall. The LEDs inside are capable of a claimed 1,100 lumens. Most portable projectors are rated for less than half that. I measured 437, which at half the rated specification is still higher than any of the other portable projectors I've measured.
One of the main issues with the P6X is the resolution: 1,280x800. In fairness, most inexpensive portable projectors are around this resolution, with only a handful at 1080p, none at 4K and some even less than the AAXA. I saw relatively big, chunky pixels on larger screen sizes, but for this price and portability, it's not a big deal. Just something to keep in mind if you're used to your 4K 50-inch TV.
The PX6 is surprisingly heavy for its size. That's almost entirely due to its massive 15,000-mAh battery, more than many USB battery packs. The result is a claimed runtime at full brightness of 90 minutes, which is all some portable projectors can manage at significantly lower light output. The 240 minutes in Eco mode, which is 66% dimmer, basically means a whole night of movies without plugging in. That's rare. The AAXA is also significantly quieter in Eco mode, which is an added bonus.
HDMI inputs: 1
Analog input: Composite (adapter included)
USB port: 1 (2A power)
Audio input and output: Analog (3.5mm)
Digital audio output: No
Remote: Not backlit
Despite the serious lack of real estate, the P6X's backside has the basic connections you need and a bit more. The single HDMI connection is plenty -- it lets you connect a streaming stick, and the USB port delivers more than enough power for it. There's even an analog video input, which is actually quite rare.
On the audio front, there's a headphone jack and a 4-watt speaker. The latter isn't great, but it gets the job done.
There's no lens shift or zoom, which is to be expected. Focus is adjusted using a small dial. I actually like this analog capability over the automatic zoom found on some portables. I also drive a manual transmission car, so YMMV.
The remote is about half the size of a credit card. A handy DIY mod could be a small strip of Velcro to keep the remote with the projector. Just don't stick it to the left of the logo on top, as that gets hot when the projector is on.
Unfortunately, the P6X doesn't recharge via USB. It comes with a moderately bulky power brick. I'm a strong believer that everything should charge via USB, but that's not always possible due to cost and other factors. So I don't count this as a negative as much as "that would have been cool."
Picture quality comparisons
With its undersized price and oversized brightness, it's hard to compare the P6X to other projectors. The Anker Mars II Pro is closer in price than it first seems, as it has streaming capabilities built in, as in you don't need a streaming stick like you do with the AAXA. It's also one of our favorite portable projectors. I connected them both to a Monoprice 1x4 distribution amplifier, and viewed them side-by-side on a 1.0-gain screen.
The first thing I should mention is that you should absolutely adjust the AAXA's picture settings. Out of the box the image is… not great. The biggest improvement comes from turning the sharpness control way down, which decreases the video noise and edge enhancement. That you can adjust the settings at all is a point in the AAXA's favor, since the Anker basically doesn't have any.
Side-by-side, it's quite apparent that the Anker has a pinkish hue, while the AAXA is greenish. In both cases a few taps with a tint control would be able to fix it, but neither have this option (it's grayed out on the AAXA).
The color on both looks, shall we say, creative. The Anker is a bit more subdued in its color reproduction, so it's more muted in its wrongness. There's no right answer here, I suppose. Both are quite wrong, but the Anker is less in-your-face about it. The AAXA has a decided flamboyance to its color, which does definitely draw the eye.
Muted is also what I'd say about the Anker's contrast, compared to the AAXA. Even though the AAXA has a lower contrast ratio, being able to adjust contrast and brightness let me dial in a more contrast-y image. Which is to say, the Anker looks more washed out with actual content vs. test patterns.
Though both projectors have basically the same 16:9 resolution, they look different here as well. The Anker has a more natural-looking image, likely due to less edge enhancement and better processing overall. The AAXA looks extremely artificial if you leave the sharpness control where it's set out of the box, adding a lot of image-ruining video noise. The edge enhancement also masks fine detail, so edges pop in a way that implies detail, but side by side with the same resolution on the Anker and you notice hair, wrinkles, and other fine details are missing on the AAXA. Turn the AAXA's sharpness down and the detail is closer to the Anker's, but the lesser processing makes for a softer image overall.
The Anker's sound is significantly better. The AAXA's tiny speaker doesn't play very loud and distorts easily when burdened by even the slightest amount of bass. It's adequate if you're sitting close, but the Anker will be more audible from farther away and will sound better overall. The AAXA does have a headphone output, so you can add your own external speaker, but this is yet another thing you'd need to bring with you.
Basically, the AAXA has more flash, but the Anker has a more pleasing image and better sound. So I'd lean toward the Anker, but with some caveats.
Conclusion: LEDs are lit
The AAXA P6X is a delightfully weird little projector. What it does well, it does really well. Beyond those things, it's not quite as great. It is exceptionally bright for a portable projector. The massive battery is a step above other portables as well. Contrast ratio, color and really, overall picture quality, aren't particularly good. But given the price and what you'd be using this for, that's not as big a deal as it would be with other projectors.
For most people, I'd still recommend the Anker Mars II Pro since it's easier to use and looks a little better. The price is higher, but to get the AAXA to the same level of function as the Anker, you'll need to add a streaming stick and possibly an external speaker. That certainly reduces the price differential. Plus, you'd then need to bring multiple devices, along with the cables for each device, whereas the Anker is complete in one unit.
That said, if you already have a streaming stick, already have a speaker, and you want something that's brighter and lasts longer, the AAXA really is impressive for its size and price. In certain situations it's definitely the better option, since it's hard to beat lots of light and a huge battery.
The P6X's strengths are its brightness, battery life and price. So I'm including these notes here since I'm sure many will be curious, but keep in mind I didn't expect something so small that costs so little to perform like a Sony SXRD.
As far as brightness goes, in the Warm color temperature mode and the User picture mode, I measured approximately 437 lumens. The next brightest portable PJ I've measured was the Anker Mars II Pro at 337. That's a sizable and noticeable difference. If you want to sacrifice color temperature and image quality, you can get about 30 more lumens in the Vivid picture mode and Cool color temp mode. Not advisable, but the option is there.
Also noticeable is the difference in contrast ratio. The P6X's meager average of 210:1 is well below the Anker's 354:1. Noticeable, but both are quite flat compared to standard home theater projectors. As mentioned above, with actual video content the difference isn't quite as simple as these numbers suggest.
Color between these two is a bit of a wash, which is to say "differently bad." The AAXA's green is more accurate, the Anker's yellow and cyan. But yeah, the colors on both of these are… interesting.
If you want to game with the P6X, I measured an input lag of 42ms, which isn't great but also isn't terrible.