Tag Archives | Projectors

Oh Yes, Microvision Stuffed a Laser Projector Into an Android Handset

For some reason, I have a silly infatuation with projector phones, even though no phone makers have attempted to put one into a modern smartphone handset.

At a pre-CES event Wednesday, pico projector maker Microvision was hoping to plant the idea in manufacturers’ heads. They’ve cobbled together a prototype Android “tablet” — a phone, really, minus the phone guts — with a laser projector. The device is unlikely to be released as it appeared at the show, but it served its purpose of throwing videos and photos onto a wall in a well-lit room.

The projector phone is a bit chunky, measuring 0.67 inches thick, and when I picked it up, it was warm to the touch. When the projector is running, the device lasts for about two hours.

Bulk and power consumption aside, Microvision’s biggest hurdle is price. The company won’t say how much it expects to charge manufacturers for its embedded projectors, but Microvision’s standalone ShowWX projector costs $400 at retail. My guess is that we’re still a couple years away from seeing laser projection as a feature in any widely-available smartphones. I wonder if Android will still be the reference device du jour then.


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More Projector Phones? Yes, Please.

Front-facing camera? Feh. As far as bells and whistles go, I’d take a smartphone with a built-in projector over one with video chat any day, so I’m happy to see that Sharp is keeping the dream alive, at least in Japan.

MobileCrunch reports that the SH-05C comes with a built-in DLP projector, good for up to two hours of video on the nearest wall. It’ll launch through NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest wireless carrier, in February 2011.

I like the idea of blowing up photos and videos from a phone for everyone to see. Unfortunately, projector phones still have a long way to go before they can become practical additions to top-shelf smartphones. DLP projectors, like the one in Sharp’s phone, aren’t ideal for well-lit rooms — the folks in Sharp’s press shots seem to be hanging out in the dark — and its resolution is a mere 640-by-480. The DLP projector accessory for LG’s Expo, a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone that’s no longer available from AT&T, is even worse, with 480-by-320 resolution.

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Nikon’s Projecting Camera: It’s Showtime!

Nikon S1000PJNikon announced four new point-and-shoot cameras today, one of which has a truly striking feature: a built-in projector. The $429 Coolpix S1000pj uses picoprojector technology to cast images through its lens, letting you display single images,  slideshows, and movie clips at sizes up to 40 inches.

It’s the first point-and-shoot that projects, and the tech does sound like it’s still in bleeding-edge territory: The S1000pj shoots images at up to 12.1 megapixels (4000 by 3000 pixels), but it projects them at VGA (640 by 480) resolution, and Nikon rates battery life at one hour. But it’s still exciting to see projection start to work its way into reasonably inexpensive and compact consumer devices, and it’ll be fascinating to see whether it becomes commonplace in other cameras, phones, laptops, and other gadgets anytime soon.

Would you be tempted to buy the S1000pj over a comparable camera with no projection feature? Will you wait for second- or third-generation passes at the idea? Does the idea appeal to you at all?


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iPods With Video Cameras? Sure. iPods With Projectors? I’m Skeptical.

iPod CameraJudging the accuracy of Apple rumors may not be a cakewalk, but one technique is surprisingly effective and obvious: Ask yourself if past Apple history suggests that a rumor sounds like something the company would do. By that measure, the current rumors about iPod Touch and Nano models with built-in video cameras sounds entirely plausible. The iPhone 3GS‘s camera shows Apple has invested in video-recording hardware and software. It’s gradually been turning every iPod except for the screenless Shuffle into a video device. And given that a high percentage of people who want iPods own them by now, Apple could use a strikingly new feature with wide appeal to tempt them to upgrade.

On the other hand, I’d be surprised if concurrent rumors about Apple getting ready to build projectors into iPhones and iPods are the real deal. Projectors may be getting tinier, but they aren’t yet teensy enough to cram into a phone or MP3 player that’s as thin as the ones Apple likes to make. And how often would a real person want to project an image from an iPhone or iPod in the real world? Not all that often, surely. Apple history shows that it’s not all that interested in adding exotic features that won’t be used much, and is almost never the first company to embrace a new technology. (It tends to cheerfully sit on the sidelines while other companies make bleeding-edge products that are noble in their ambitions but frustrating in practice.)

I’m not saying that there will never be Apple handheld devices with built-in projectors, but I don’t think we’re a couple of months away from seeing them. And a couple of months from now is almost certainly when Apple will announce its new lineup of iPods. Any guesses (or wishes) about what the Fall 2009 lineup of iPods will involve?


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