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Technology Showcase: Pico Projectors

Oct 8, 2009 2:54 PM, By Jay Ankeney

New products lay the groundwork for a potentially dynamic market.

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Microvision Show WX pico projector

Microvision Show WX

In September, Microvision announced the commercial introduction of the world’s first laser-based pico projector, the Show WX, based on Microvision’s proprietary PicoP display engine technology. Show WX is a simple plug-and-play pico projector capable of throwing an image from 12in. to 150in., depending on ambient light. Users can plug the Show WX into their portable media players, mobile phones, notebooks, and other portable mobile media devices with TV-out or VGA functionality and share a big screen experience with friends, family, or business associates. Show WX is no larger than an iPhone, is completely battery-operated, and can project a full-color, WVGA (848x480), DVD-quality image with vivid colors and enhanced contrast.

Nikon CoolPix S1000pj pico projector

Nikon CoolPix S1000pj

One of the most eagerly anticipated pico projector products is Nikon’s CoolPix S1000pj compact digital camera, which features the world’s first in-camera projector based on Nikon’s own LCoS imaging engine using a 1W LED light source capable of 10 lumens. As a result, the CoolPix S1000pj transforms photo sharing into a multimedia experience, or what Nikon calls “your personal theater on the go.” The CoolPix S1000pj can present a 40in. image from the camera’s 12.1-megapixel imager. With the camera's unique slideshow function, it can play back pictures with music, effects, and creative transitions for up to an hour’s enjoyment.

Optoma PK102 pico projector

Optoma PK102

Adding new connectivity and memory features to its original PK101 pico projector, Optoma has introduced the PK102, calling it the world’s smallest and most advanced battery-powered DLP projector. The PK102 weighs just 4.4oz. and produces a 2000:1 contrast ratio and enough brightness for users to project images up to 60in. With 4GB of internal memory, enough to hold 6,000 pictures or 8 hours of video, the new PK102 can project its images directly from the internal storage or from USB memory keys and other external memory card readers. It can also connect to an iPod, smartphone, digital camera, or other device with video output and show videos, photos, or presentations playing on these devices.

Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) started this year by bringing out what it calls a "new mobile phone accessory," the MBP200 pico projector. The MBP200 can connect to mobile phones and laptops, and it allows users to project content with up to a 50in. viewing screen. In addition, users can easily transfer files and project content independent of an attached source via the MBP200’s microSD card slot. This HVGA (480x320) pico projector can accommodate screen sizes from an 8.5x11 standard sheet of paper to a large 50in. screen. For added convenience, the MBP200 comes with a small screen holder with a telescoping pole hidden inside, which can instantly turn a standard sheet of paper into a screen to view movies, document files, or pictures. The MBP200 was named the CES Innovations 2009 Design and Engineering Best of Innovations in the wireless handset accessories category.

At April’s Hong Kong Electronics Fair, Chinese company SCT Optronics showed off its VideoLit projector, an 8-to-10 lumens standalone pico projector using RGB LEDs rated at 20,000 hours as its light source and boasting a USB connector for power. SCT Optronics claims the VideoLit pico projector with its VGA 640x480 pixel resolution and 50/60Hz PAL and NTSC compatibility is the ideal companion to multimedia devices such as iPod, phone, digital camera, DV, or gaming console since its projected screen sizes vary from 5in. to 73.5in.

WowWee Technologies Cinemin Swivel pico projector

WowWee Technologies Cinemin Swivel

Last August, Using Syndiant introduced the SYL2030 display panel for pico projectors, using the company's own patented smart panel VueG8 based on LCoS technology as the imaging source, asserting it is the world’s smallest WVGA (854x480 pixels) microdisplay at only 6mm tall with a pixel array diagonal of 0.21in. and a 5.4-micron pixel pitch. The SYL2030 is intended for the embedded pico projector market by enabling very thin (less than 7mm) optical modules that can fit into a large number of handsets and other handheld devices.

According to its maker, WowWee Technologies, the new Cinemin Swivel pico projector harnesses the same Texas Instruments’ DLP technology commonly found in high-definition TVs. Just starting to ship in October from major retailers nationwide including Brookstone and, the Cinemin Swivel features a unique adjustable 90-degree hinge intended for projecting onto a ceiling, which, among other applications, is handy for watching movies while lying in bed. It also sports full volume control for its 0.5W mono audio loudspeaker, an audio jack for a headset or loudspeakers, and a 2-hour battery life. WowWee’s Cinemin Swivel puts out 8 lumens, HVGA (480x320) resolution, and has a reverse feature that allows back-projection.

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