Mobile Projector First Look

by Reads (3,190)

Mobile projectors have been shrinking in size for years now, with the smallest models on the market right now being not much larger than a CD case. While these projectors are travel friendly, the ultimate business travelers still want something smaller, perhaps even built into a notebook or cell phone. This year at CTIA, two companies made incredible advances in this technology, bringing projector technology into devices no bigger than a cell phone or iPod.

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Why are we talking about mobile projectors designed for cell phones? Because most industry insiders agree that mobile projectors will be integrated with notebooks sometime within five years or less.

As ultraportable notebooks get smaller and smaller we’ve had to accept the fact that our screens get smaller as well. Not anymore. Imagine a 10-inch notebook with a mobile projector hidden inside the lid. When you’re on the road you can use the 10-inch LCD, but when you arrive at your office or hotel room all you need to do is press a button and you’ve got up to a 60-inch display with 1080i … someday.

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Texas Instruments brought their DLP technology to the table, bringing the component size down by an incredible amount, letting them build a projector into a gutted concept cell phone. While this prototype is just a simple working model, it shows just how small they can make them once they get companies on board who want this technology inside their products.

Here is a video showing a demo of the TI phone prototype in action. Please note that the phone was not functional, except for the projector. (Video comes courtesy of our sister site

Microvision was also showing off a prototype micro projector, with their model being more refined, almost to the point of being a finished product. The model was based off a technology that used three laser modules that fired at a wobbling mirror which scanned lines on whatever surface you pointed it at. Compared to the Texas Instruments version, this had a few advantages. The three lasers give a much brighter screen, there is no focusing adjustment needed if you changed the distance from the wall, and in dark rooms the projector made viewable screens upwards of 80" and 90". Microvision planned on selling the external projector first, and then moving to internal projectors for cell phones or notebooks when the technology became more refined.

Below is a video showing the Microvision Pico Projector in action. In both settings they are showing off an iPod Nano connected to it, but in one clip the video is paused.

At this time Microvision was the only company with set plans on releasing their product in the upcoming months. If they are available at a reasonable price, you can bet my iPod, ThinkPad, and PS3 will have a new best friend.

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