The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Pico Projectors at CES – and Pico Projector Cameras and…

Very cool!

Last night I attended the Digital Experience (the major Press only event) at the CES Show, and pico projectors and pico projector containing devices were in abundance.  More than 100 vendors were showing off their technology, mostly at small 10×6 foot table top booths.  I liked the pico projector cameras and camcorders I saw.  Not bad!

The folks, I think, had way more than a dozen different pico projectors and other devices with on board projectors, from all kinds of major players.   Among the small devices at the (Texas Instuments) table, the largest was the new Optoma Neo-i, which I will have for review as soon as they become available (UPDATE: now published, click for review).  The Neo-i is another small device – about 2.5 pounds around a foot long, somewhat oval, that you can hook up to your smartphone, iphone, iPad (yes, iPad).  It has built in speakers, (looks like a lot of iPhone home systems, such as those from iHome, but the Neo-i is unique in that it has a built in projector. Bingo, project those music videos while getting some pretty decent sound from a small, dare I define  it  as a- boombox.

But what impressed me were camcorders and cameras with built in projectors.    BTW there were a bunch of 3D camcorders (all price ranges), and I was hoping to see one with a built in 3D pico projection setup, but, I didn’t see one (yet).  I counted at least 4 cameras and camcorders with pico projectors inside.  Oh yeah, there were a few phones too.  Remember this is just a large press show, there are probably 10 projectors on the show floor for everyone at this event.  One thing that was nice.  The folks I spoke to were trying their best to throw these pico projector camcorders, projectors and cameras at me.  Everyone’s attitude, was – how fast can we get you a review unit (that is, after most start shipping)…

Individual companies were showing theirs, such as 3M, with what has to be considered one of the most “serious” pico projectors, the MPro180, in terms of being designed for business.  A lot longer than the competition (looks like the MPro150 we reviewed but at least 2 inches longer.  Why?

Well it claims 32 lumens, AND that it can run a full two hours while doing so.  In addition it has something I haven’t seen before in a pico  projector, which is direct support for powerpoint files, and another major, perhaps Word (I just don’t remember at the moment).  It is also a WSVGA, not the more common widescreen (and lower res) WVGA.  3M’s pico projector lineup also included a small white model, more traditionally sized and shaped, sporting 720p resolution.  That is probably a first, though there might be a few others doing the same, here at CES – the Consumer Electronics Show, for those not familiar.

I’ll report in more depth, and we’ll start reviewing some of these new pico projectors, pretty much as soon as they start rolling in.

We are going to increase our focus on pico projectors and, perhaps more importantly, some of the devices that have pico projectors in them.    I’m expecting Tony to review at least a half dozen in the next few months, and more than that by the time the summer Pico Projector report comes out. But, don’t worry, the pico projector reviews, and reviews of pico camera projectors and pico camcorder projectors, etc. will post as soon as each is finished.

My take is there is plenty to choose from if you want/need a pico projector.   I suspect that one more year will make another big difference, but this year’s crop overall, looks really impressive from what I’ve seen.

Samsung, of note, has several combined devices with pico projectors, and also a cute little cube of a projector (shown in white) that was probably not much bigger than 2 x 2 x 1.5 inches. Very cute, my complaint was no kensington lock. With one of those, or something else, that Samsung pico projector just might make an oversized keychain (no bigger than my wife’s keychain.  (sorry guys, too bulky to attach to car keys – and put into a pants pocket.

I’ll provide a more in depth about the pico devices and projectors and which pico projectors and devices will be reviewed next, in just a few days. Hang in there -

and – happy new year.  -art

News And Comments

  • DavidK

    Thanks for the CES update but I’m afraid I’m not one of the zillion who seem so excited about portability. Anything interesting at CES on the Home Theater projector front? Anything new from Optoma? A quieter, higher contrast replacement for the HD20 perhaps. :)

  • mini projector review

    Expect to see even more cameras/camcorders integrated with with pico projectors. Im not sure if it´s a good thing tho…think about firt time when cams were integrated to mobile phones; they were horrible. Ofcourse they get better over time, but do customers has to pay for options they don´t realy need ? I mean where can you get a phone WITHOUT a camera ? Probably it will be the same thing with pico projectors. Im sure most customers like to have cams with their phones (or projectors), but what if you like to have high guality photos/footage ? You have to buy seperate cam(corder) AND pay for the price added to phone/projector…ohwell, such is life (and tech…)
    btw, as you implied, they are all going 3D; pico projectors with camcorders, TV,s laptops, mobiles , life…oh wait, life is ALREADY a 3D (or more)

    • Lisa Feierman

      Vjtalka, It’s the nature of such things. It’s not even technology. Not long before the first mobile phones with a camera, digital cameras started at VGA 640×480, and even lower… Now we complain about a 2 megapixel camera – one more than capable of producing an 8×10 print… PQ improves as well, and integrated products tend to be more of a compromise, be it these new devices, or a basic home theater in a box…

      Thing is, most folks are more than happy with such compromises. If we want the capability, we can afford it, and it’s availalable at a price that some can afford, then most of those will buy it. Certainly I do enjoy my new gadgets. My iPad last year was and is a major revelation. I don’t have to be the first guy to buy such things (I tend to balance with price). and I waited a couple of months. (I’m about to spring for the iPad2, which does something I really need, that mine can’t do, but that’s another matter.

      Hey, at least I get to play with these toys for free. I had fun with the Viewsonic camcorder and I’ll write it up soon as I can. It’s not for everyone, but it sure garnered a lot of attention, as I was sitting around the Jefferson memorial, in the shade, in my trip back east last week, and checking out a video clip I had just shot, by projecting about a 30 inch image on the white marble wall (in the shade). The students walking by were in a buzz.