Projector People CES Coverage

The Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES) has finished up for the year, introducing some exciting – some less exciting – products designed to titillate you – the consumer who loves electronics. Since we are the Projector People, our interest lies primarily in the AV/Home Theater products. CES isn’t the largest show for AV, but there are usually home theater projectors released and other items of interest to our customers. And just for fun, we are going to cover a few products we thought were cool even if they have absolutely nothing to do with what we do. So read on for our roundup.

The Pico Projector Invasion

The biggest buzz at the convention, arguably, has been the new tiny, tiny, baby smallish, pocket video projectors. The Samsung Show phone with projector (read from Gizmodo see video here.), the Optoma PK-101 (we covered a couple months ago), 3M MPro110, Samsung MBP200 (marketed as a phone accessory), the Logic Wireless Bolt (from Wired blog) among others.

But Do They Work?

The questions we keep hearing are, “Are these tiny baby projectors any good? I mean could I do an actual presentation with one?” and “Do they work with an iPod/iPhone?” We would have to test them all on our own to say for sure, and up till now we have only seen the Optoma PK-101 in person. So here’s a quick review of the Optoma PK-101 from my brief experience with it.

Editor’s Optoma PK-101 Quickie Review

I took home an Optoma PK-101 a few weeks ago and found it to be much brighter than I thought it would be. Or course my expectations were pretty low. But depending on the size of the audience, the amount of light in the room, and the surface you are projecting on, I would say that you could do a (3-4 person) presentation in a dark room with little problem. We also tested it with both an iPod and iPhone and it was able to display video from both after some settings were altered and connections changed.

The biggest limitation for presentations looks to be the lack of a VGA or USB input, however the composite output and iPod output adaptor did the job for our tests. My biggest complaint was the inability to output sound through an external speaker (or headphones) when the connection was in use during projection. Other than that, carrying around the little projector made me feel all fancy inside. It was lightweight. I could slip it into my pocket, and everyone wanted to see what I was holding.

[ Very crude video I took while on a plane with the PK-101. There is a focus on the pocket projector that should have been adjusted. The source was an iPod video. ]

But Can I Buy One?

We are also hearing questions about actually buying one of these Pico projectors. In most cases these are very limited release (often limited to a country like Korea – as is the Samsung Show phone currently). With the CES buzz, however, you can expect multiple manufacturers to start aggressively developing new Pico projectors for mass distribution in the U.S. market. You can probably also expect prices to stay around $300 – $600, with costs being slightly higher for phone/projector combos. We do have a limited quantity of Optoma PK-101 projectors on the way to ProjectorPeople. If you are interested, order fast!

LED Home Theater Projectors Coming Soon?

The Pocket Projector manufacturers aren’t the only ones utilizing new LED technology in projection. In fact, with a 20,000 hour lamp life and good color space, the Home Theater market looks to be a great fit for LED projection technology. Vivitek announced the very first 1080p (true HD) resolution LED projector, the HC7500A, which is scheduled to hit the streets in June. Lumen (brightness) ratings are much higher on this unit, with a 700 lumen – compared to around just 7 to 11 lumens in the pocket projectors – output and reported 35,000:1 contrast ratio. Street price is a little shocking at $13,999 – but might still be a big seller with the long lamp life and great color going for it. (more via Projector Central)

Elite Screen + Whiteboard + Sound Screen

Low priced screens are Elite’s bread and butter, and now they have added a Whiteboard screen to their product lineup. The screen is designed to bring out brightness in projected images so that they look more like a flat panel or LCD display. (more here) and it features a dry-erase surface.

Elite’s new acoustically transparent projection screen material

Also from Elite, a new acoustically transparent projection screen material has been released. Acoustically transparent essentially means that sound can get through clearly from behind the screen. It’s a nice feature for people who want to ‘hide’ their center channel speaker behind the screen. The new Elite material has .25mm perforations in it that allow the sound go come through without letting loads of light leak through. The smaller perforations help to reduce the moiré effect which sometimes occurs with other acoustically transparent screens. Sizes range from 72 to 180 inches.

High Definition and HD Wireless

It’s hard to stay ahead of all the advances in wireless HD technology. Every year it looks like wireless HD will be a reality, but no product has really taken hold in the market even with some promising candidates like WirelessHD. Consumers may be waiting for a lower price point, or just unsure of the technology. We have been asked millions of times when there will be a wireless HD video solution for projectors, but as of yet, nothing has emerged as a great option. We will keep our eyes open for the right product to do the job. Engadget has a nice HD roundup here.

More Cool Stuff

EasyBloom. Technature.

Just stick the Plant Sense EasyBloom USB soil analyzer into your soil for 24 hours and then connect it to your computer and you will learn which of mother nature’s plant creatures will best survive in said soil. It won’t water the plants for you, but it might make your thumb appear a little greener. The EasyBloom can also diagnose a sick plant and provide treatment suggestions. (more here)

EcoButton. Socially Responsible.

For computer users who want to reduce their carbon footprint but don’t know exactly how to do it, EcoButton is here to save the day. Essentially it’s a ‘one-click’ solution to dropping your computer into an energy saving mode. I don’t know how different this button is from the Apple sleep mode, but the button will certainly be a reminder, and the one button smack is very easy to use. There are solutions for home and work environments. (more here)

Palm Pre. Rebirth.

Among most of the gadget gurus, the Palm Pre was the big talk of the party. It’s iPhone-ish, has a touchscreen and lots of web aps, but has a keyboard with real buttons. It also has a calendar Synergy™ feature to bring your Outlook, Google, and Facebook calendars into one view. That would be a great feature for this blogger, but I am committed to AT&T for another year and a half. AND I had Sprint once before.
(see video here)

Anybots QA. Futuristic.

Buy a friend for just $30,000. He can’t hug you because he has no arms, but there is still something engaging about the Anybot QA. (more here)

Roundups Around the Web

If you want to do some more CES surfing, here are a few other blogs with posts about the show. Enjoy!

That’s all for now! Watch for follow up posts on new Home and Business projectors right here.