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BenQ's GP1 LED Projector — Small Package, Good Thing

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the add-a-toilet-and-dilberitos dept.

Displays 93

The first projector I remember seeing in person had three great big glass eyes (for red, green, and blue lamps) and BNC connectors. It probably weighed more than 100 pounds, and had to be carefully calibrated to align the lenses. Now, I've got a projector above my head that weighs less than a Neal Stephenson novel and has a sharper, brighter image than that monster. I've been looking into LED projectors for a few years now; in that time, I've been waiting for them to come down in price and bump up in lumens. So I was very curious about BenQ's GP1 LED projector (also known, somewhat oddly, as "Joybee"), and was happy to get a sample for review. It may seem retrograde to bother with an 800x600, 100 lumen (no missing zero there: one-hundred lumen) projector in 2009 A.D., but for the past four weeks, I've used it as my primary display, and come out happy. It has some drawbacks, but it's an impressive little device for its $499 pricetag, and I hope a harbinger of even better things to come. Read on for my take on what BenQ got right, and what rough spots stick out.

How long is a piece of string?

The Joybee itself, at approximately 5"x5"x2" (136 x 54 x 120 mm), is a bit smaller than a Mac Mini (which it superficially resembles), and with its multi-input breakout cable weighs 1.4 pounds (0.64 kg); the unwieldy but necessary AC block and power cable nearly double the weight, though, and unfortunately are not accounted for in the pouch that comes with the projector. (If you have a BenQ notebook, though, the GP1 could theoretically share its AC adapter. That assumes your laptop battery holds enough juice to churn out the content you want to project, or that you're using the projector's internal media player via the USB slot, about which more below.) A restrained round panel of touch-sensitive buttons and a thumb-friendly focus wheel are the only controls on the chassis; there are also four ports: DC power jack on one side, USB, 1/8" stereo-out, and a proprietary slot to which an octopus cable (VGA and composite) attaches on the back. The front face contains a deep-set opening for the lens, and a grill behind which sits a fan. (A matching iPod dock is advertised as being separately available; I don't have an iPod new enough to play video, and didn't have the dock to test anyhow.)

This projector won't wow you with its resolution (actually 858x600, but attached computers see it as 800x600 native) or brightness (brighter by 50 lumens than Dell's even-smaller M109S, dimmer by 50 than the Samsung P400). There are plenty of incandescent-lit 800x600 projectors available, and I've seen some on sale recently for under $400. (Those typically advertise an expected lamp life of around 2000 hours, and it's hard to find any that claim less than 1200 lumens.) So is 100 lumens bright enough?

The real answer is "It can be, depending." Whether it's enough for you is a matter of balancing your expectations, the screen or other surface it will paint, and your ability to control the light in the room: this projector is not going to overwhelm any but the dimmest of nearby lamps, but it doesn't quite require total darkness, either. I tried the GP1 out in two rooms in a big house. In a large living room with four tall, north-facing windows, the projected image (from about 10 feet away, onto a white-painted wall) only became easily viewable starting at dusk, even with the (non-light-tight) curtains closed as tightly as I could manage. It wasn't bad, though, once real darkness arrived; it might pass no videophile's test, but Ferris Bueller's blue skies were nicely blue. In a much-smaller room in the basement, with only one window and little direct sunlight, my makeshift screen was bright enough for comfortable use even during the day: no blackout curtain needed. By way of comparison, the not-yet-out H6080 from Vivitek is a 1280p LED-based projector rated for 800 lumens, still weak by current conventional projector standards — and it's expected to cost about $20,000. The extra 19-plus thousand dollars would buy some thick curtains and patience to wait for high-end LED projectors to drop in price a bit, or a whole lot of conventional replacement lamps.

I'm probably at least a few years from buying a Blu-Ray or other ultra-high definition device, so beating the 720x480 resolution of typical NTSC DVDs meets most of my movie- and Hulu-watching demands. Still, I was surprised at how good the BQ1 did at scaling down 1024x768 output from a laptop; downscaled output will never look as good as native, but in a pinch it's really not so bad: icon text at its default size, 14-pt terminal output, and typical PDFs were all quite legible. However, I've instead mostly been using the native resolution to project a Gnome desktop onto my improvised screen (posterboard panels trimmed to fit into a frame found at a thrift store) giving me a nice 46" screen — much nicer on the eyes, I found, than always staring at a laptop.

The selling points

This projector may not be meant for boardrooms or gymnasiums, but in more modest surroundings it stands up quite well. The controls are simple enough that the "get started" guide in the box is entirely visual, just a reassuring poster illustrating the steps for first use. Plug it in, supply a media source, and turn it on.

The controls clustered on the top surface of the GP1 are backlit, and arranged around the power selector. The four labeled buttons (besides Power) are sane, too: Menu / Exit; Mode / Enter; Blank; and Source. Arrow keys point up/down and left/right, for setting parameters chosen once you've entered a menu. While the opposite would be worse, I found the controls a bit more sensitive than I would have liked; it's too easy to accidentally trigger the Blank button, for instance. The power button, intelligently, must be pressed twice — the second time is to confirm that you really did mean to turn the thing off.

The built-in media player makes the GP1 considerably more versatile, if you prepare your files with its limitations in mind. Plug in a USB thumb drive loaded with JPEGs, AVI files or MP4s, and you can play the files, complete with glorious 2-watt stereo sound, without needing a computer or other active source attached. That's the theory, at least: in reality, not even all AVI or MP4 files will work. A broad selection of home movies, YouTube downloads converted from FLV with the versatile VLC, and random internet curiosities from the "misc" folder of my hard drive gave me the whole array of outcomes: some wouldn't play at all; for some sound worked, but not picture; for some, it was the picture that worked, but not sound; and for some (like a clip of my niece whacking me on the head with her toy sofa, then gleefully punching my head) it worked as hoped, to the boredom of everyone I could persuade to watch. However, a small insert that came in the box (too late for the manual, I guess) outlines the several acceptable permutations of file format and codecs (recommended: Video: MPEG-1, MJPEG Audio: MPEG-1 layer 2, PCM), so I was able to watch some Northern Exposure ripped from my DVDs and loaded onto a USB drive after setting the right parameters in Handbrake.

The kindest things that can be said about the remote are that it works, it's small, and it allows the user to easily correct for keystoning — just press a button labeled with top-heavy trapezoid, or a bottom-heavy one. The actual button layout isn't especially intuitive, in part because the controls are actually split into two sections; the top half controls the operation of the projector itself; the bottom part is for the built-in media player. Having both "Enter" and "Return" choices is probably not a great design choice, either. Like most remotes, though, the user will probably soon enough learn a groove through the actual options he finds useful, and at least there are only a few keys to get used to, because most controls (a decent array of them, from color-correction for different target surfaces to a choice of several languages) are accessed through the built-in menus. A giant remote with one button per function would defeat some of the advantage of having a tiny projector in the first place.

Since low-end projectors based on incandescent bulbs often have bulb assemblies that can cost hundreds of dollars (and fail at intervals that are hard to anticipate, however technically accurate are the listed MTBF numbers), the biggest draw for me of this device is that its light source is an LED array, which should be rugged and long-lived. While most LED life claims strike me as optimistic (has anyone actually tested a projector like this to 10,000 hours?), a light source that I basically don't need to coddle or worry about in the near-term is reassuring. The GP1 is not utterly silent (there's a small fan, and it seems to run at all times), and it gets fairly warm in use, but it's quieter and cooler than most consumer-oriented projectors I've seen, as you'd expect from a LED-based system.

Glitches and hitches: It's hard to look the gift-horse of a built-in media player app in the mouth too hard, so I view its file compatibility limits as facts of life, not problems per se. However, I've run into two actually annoying problems with the the GP1.

First, keeping the signal locked, which should be high on a projector's priority list, doesn't always work. My Gnome desktop has blinked on and off a few times, inexplicably; a "Searching all signals" message appears on screen, but it only manages to automatically recapture the signal about half the time. I blamed this at first on my computer (Toshiba laptop running an Ubuntu 9.10 alpha), but have since seen these occasional drop-outs with a MacBook Pro as well as another Linux laptop, and even while using the built-in media center software. Re-selecting the input source (an easy one-second, two-button dance on the remote) has usually worked to correct this, but sometimes the signal has been lost until I restart the attached laptop. My hope is that this is a teething problem related to early production, rather than inherent to the device. Since I've had left it running most hours of most days for a month, maybe it's just asking for a rest.

Second, I've hit a problem that seems to go with a lot of devices that use high-powered LEDs: occasional flicker. This flickering is my most serious complaint about this device. On the same once-in-a-while basis as the signal-dropping just described (which is to say, rarely, but enough to notice in the course of constant use), the lamp will cycle through several colors and brightness levels. Sometimes this is fleeting — just a momentary change — but sometimes the image takes on a new hue and stays that way for minutes (or at least until the device is restarted). In a theater, I'd want my money back, when I'm reading a story at the New York Times' site in 2-inch letters on the wall, it doesn't bother me much.

What's not in the box:

This projector is inexpensive, and comes in a box that could hold shoes for a small child, so it's not surprising that the supplied accessories are a bit bare-bones.

You'll need a VGA extender, unless your computer is going to sit practically next to the projector — sometimes that's the most practical place for it anyhow, but a bit awkward for many set-ups. After deciding where I wanted to put the projector, I bought a VGA extension for $5 from a local used-computer dealer, so the projector could fit on a Rube Goldberg-style shelf about 12" from the ceiling and nearly touching the wall. The projector is mounted upside down, connected to a wooden panel with a 1/4" bolt to the tripod mount on the GP1's underside. Having a tripod mount is a nice touch; the projector weighs little enough that something like a Gorillapod would be a handy accessory.

You'll also need an adapter if your video source's output jacks are fancier than composite RCA or VGA; the HDMI-to-VGA adapter that came with a MacBook worked fine for me.

A USB extension cable makes it easier to swap out USB devices, especially if the projector is set just-so. Plugging a cheap SD adapter into the USB port or extension cable works fine, too; wedding or birthday pictures could be instantly reviewed on a big screen rather than by passing around a camera's 3" display.

Since these are cheapish items and not strictly necessary for little Joybee to work, it's not a complaint that they're not supplied, just a reminder.

The low-down:

In the sort of space where this projector's bright enough to use comfortably, the middlin' resolution won't stick out — the fact that a device about the size of some early consumer-level digital cameras is spitting out the image will. Projectors of this general description would be great in every dorm room, bedroom and fallout shelter; personal-size image-beamers like this (rugged, relatively lower power, with built-in playback abilities) could be the basis of OLPC-style education efforts (or field medical training, or detailed political news) in places where live lecturers might be too expensive to ship in. It's not hard to imagine some of today's "portable desktop" computers with projector beam built-right in to their chassis. Working with one 46" screen has led to fantasies of having a few more, to compensate for the limitation of SVGA resolution; perhaps a screen apiece for browser, terminal, and IM client.

Rating a product like this is difficult, but on a scale of 1-5, here's my upshot for a few obvious categories:

  • Ease of use: 4 (Twitchy controls, weak remote take away from nice menus and ergonomic focus wheel.)
  • Overview picture quality: 3 (Hey, it's 100 lumens, 800x600.)
  • Portability: 4 (The giant AC adapter drags it down, but the thing is still tiny.)
  • Features: 3 (No shame; broader media compatibility, motorized focus, and tilt lens would make it a 5, but it's not that kind of projector.)
  • Overall Value: 4 (For now!)

The Joybee isn't anything like the end of the line for personal projectors (a year from now, there will surely be ones along the same lines that are brighter, cheaper, higher-res, or all three), but despite my list of gripes above, it is a glimpse (from the cheap seats) at the future, and worth checking out.

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TL;DR (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375151)

TL;DR TL;DR

Ouch (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375161)

I've been looking into LED projectors for a few years now

There's a Visine for that.

Re:Ouch (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375331)

I've been looking into LED projectors for a few years now

There's a Visine for that.

Lol

Re:Ouch (5, Funny)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376321)

WARNING!!! Don't look into projector with remaining eye!

Re:Ouch (0)

Creepy (93888) | more than 5 years ago | (#28379327)

LEDs won't hurt you - I think you're talking about these [gadgetreview.com] - sorta like LED projectors, but with frickin laser beams. No idea if they can be mounted on sharks.

Re:Ouch (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28380453)

LEDs will hurt you if they are powerful enough and you stare directly into them as the GP suggests. Also, IT WAS A JOKE.

Re:Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28383205)

you could've just said swooosh

Benq build quality. (2, Interesting)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375185)

I've got a 4 year old Benq projector and it's still going strong with regular use. They seem to have good build quality, and I love not having a visible TV box in the living room, just a pull down screen for when it's movie time. I'm surprised at the 100 lumen rating, that seems really low, but I guess it works in a dark enough environment.

Re:Benq build quality. (2, Interesting)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375305)

Is this $200 no-bulb projector real or fake?
http://www.microvision.com/showwx/vote.html [microvision.com]

Re:Benq build quality. (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375523)

That's real.. and a completely diffrent peice of tech than this review.

the review here is of a normal old LCD/DLP projector where they have replaced the bulb with an LED - still have the lends and focusing fun.

the ShowWX is a laser based projector that does line scanning (like a CRT) with the lasers and has no focsing lends assymbly because lasers don't defuse there for it is alwasy in focus.

the Laser based ones are what i want to see pick up.. if they could sell me one that has the brightness equivelent of 1200 lumens.. and a 1024x768 res.. even for 4 times the size of the showWX.. i would be willing to pay 1-1.4$ a lumen.

Re:Benq build quality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376465)

> because lasers don't defuse there for it is alwasy in focus.

Plus they don't diffuse either!

Re:Benq build quality. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376699)

focsing lends assymbly because lasers don't defuse there for it is alwasy in focus

focusing lens assembly because lasers don't diffuse, therefore it is always in focus

Re:Benq build quality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376981)

Leave him alone, willya? He is just another iphone user.

Re:Benq build quality. (3, Informative)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377935)

the review here is of a normal old LCD/DLP projector where they have replaced the bulb with an LED - still have the lends and focusing fun.

Not exactly. This is a new class of smaller projectors mostly using the same engine and cheaper chipsets from TI (DLP) although a few of them are also LCOS or FLCOS.

They are very cheap and intended to be disposable (no relamping available). Some use an RGB triplet of LEDs and emulate a color wheel/DLP combos, and some acutaly use color filters and white LEDs.

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28378353)

and the all use lends and focusing

again no different in basic workings than replacing the incandescent light source with an LED one.

where as the laser projector the grandparent was asking about is a completely different set of technology for casting an image.

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | more than 5 years ago | (#28378151)

The ShowWX weighs in at 10 lumens. 10!

That's barely bright enough to find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, let alone get any work done.

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28378695)

i didn't say it was better - i was just replying to someone saying yes it is real..

if you read my post you would also note that i said i would be interested in one when they can get the equivalent brightness of 1,200 lumen's.. as for my use that is the min that is useable

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

hplus (1310833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397905)

My experience with Microvision is that they have really, really cheap display technology that has impressive technical specs, but have glaring flaws in everyday use. I had a CRT HDTV made by them that provided a nice 1080i picture (back when that was impressive) but had severe brightness differential across the screen and the red convergence was a bit off. It still gave a nice looking picture except for really dark scenes, but it was by no means a great picture.

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375587)

Well, sinc eyou own another model I guess it's too late to point out that they do have a product line rather than just the one product. If 100 lumens doesn't work for someone, there are other BenQ options (for more money, of course). For $699 you get 2000 lumens, for $1399 you get 3500, and for $1999 you get 4000.

BenQ projectors [www.benq.us]

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376445)

those other models aren't LED based

Re:Benq build quality. (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28378723)

Thank you, Mr. Obvious. You know, attached to a story about them launching their first LED DLP projector, I was really worried that everyone who read that they had other projectors would think they were also LED DLP projectors.

Which Neal Stephenson novel? (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375229)

> Now, I've got a projector above my head that weighs less than a Neal Stephenson novel

That's still pretty heavy... unless it's The Big U [google.com]

Re:Which Neal Stephenson novel? (1)

sukotto (122876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376753)

First they were smaller than a Volkswagen.
Then they were smaller than a breadbox.
Now they've crossed the "Neal Stephenson" limit >> "smaller than a Neal Stephenson novel"

I'm not really up on my alternate measurement units. What's the next milestone? Cigarette box? Kitten? Red Stapler?

Re:Which Neal Stephenson novel? (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28384415)

Smaller than a credit card (both in size and in price, I hope).
We've got credit card size bongs, why not credit card size beamers?

Re:Which Neal Stephenson novel? (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376947)

...weighs less than a Neal Stephenson novel and has a sharper, brighter image than that monster

Nobody has a sharper, brighter image than Neal Stephenson! This review is heresy! And calling him a monster, that's just going too far (even if you did slog through the Baroque Cycle).

Re:Which Neal Stephenson novel? (1)

Wintermute__ (22920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28379825)

...weighs less than a Neal Stephenson novel and has a sharper, brighter image than that monster

Nobody has a sharper, brighter image than Neal Stephenson! This review is heresy! And calling him a monster, that's just going too far (even if you did slog through the Baroque Cycle).

Are you kidding? The Baroque Cycle was a rollicking good time. Anathem, on the other hand, could lead to some calling him cruel, though I agree monster is a bit much.

An alternative pico projector (5, Interesting)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375289)

http://www.microvision.com/ [microvision.com]

Re:An alternative pico projector (1)

Caste11an (898046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375701)

Is this shipping? Their site says something about "mid-2009" but the store certainly doesn't have it available, whereas BenQ's offering is available now.

Re:An alternative pico projector (2, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376059)

"800x600, 100 lumen (no missing zero there: one-hundred lumen) projector in 2009 A.D., but for the past four weeks, I've used it as my primary display, and come out happy. It has some drawbacks, but it's an impressive little device for its $499 pricetag"

If you liked that, you might want to check out the $100 LED projector. [engadget.com]

At that price I'm thinking about having all my walls be projectors, so I can change the colors whenever I like, or have a giant screen.

Re:An alternative pico projector (1)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28378711)

Uh, how about not posting vaporware about your company. This thing isn't shipping AND I am not about to join your 'club' to find out.

Gee you'd think a real company would post a target ship date if they REALLY were legit.

The BenQ is available today.

Re:An alternative pico projector (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28379137)

http://dkc1.digikey.com/us/mkt/pico.html [digikey.com]

Another one. :) And this one is available now.

But not very many lumens! I wonder how the quality is.

9 lumen microvision display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28403911)

Yes, but the microvision display only promises 9 lumens of output spread out over your projection area.

That is one full order of magnitude less.

Photo? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375327)

How hard is it to include just ONE photo of the device you're so meticulously writing to us about?

Re:Photo? (4, Funny)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375965)

If only there was a way to connect to another website - to make a link, if you will. Why, a person could read the summary and follow one of these "links" and get additional information, or see a picture . . .

Re:Photo? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376545)

Where's the fun in that?

I looked at the Microvision ShowWx and it's this beautifully CGI rendered object. I expect, should it ever actually become available, it will look exactly like it. :-\

small package? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375419)

tag: cmdrtaco

lumen (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375427)

100 lumen

uh yea, maybe you should've paid more attention in English class and less attention to your AV Club nerd-activities.

That's plural, its lumens. If you saw a 20 deer, would you say, "hey look at all those deer?"

no, you say, 'look at them deers'

Re:lumen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375923)

actually deer is both plural and singular, whereas lumens or lumina are plurals for lumen

Re:lumen (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376773)

actually deer is both plural and singular, whereas lumens or lumina are plurals for lumen

Actually, Whoosh is plural for plural, not plurals. It's pronounced just like the sound of something traveling fast above your head.

Re:lumen (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376429)

I'm waiting for followups from all the sheeps.

Re:lumen (2, Funny)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376989)

Googling for 120 Volt gives more results than 120 Volts...

Re:lumen (1)

invalid-access (1478529) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377661)

That's just silly - everyone knows that lumen is the plural of luman.

I have to out-pedant you here (2, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377949)

Your English teacher obviously was not a native user of the language.
  • We say "100 watt bulb", not 100 watts bulb
  • We say "100 meter sprint"
  • Old time carpenters had a "three foot rule" not a three feet rule
  • Cars have a "fifteen gallon tank" or a "60 litre tank"
  • Porn actors have an "eleven inch penis"

Spot the rule? When specifying a dimension beginning with the quantity, the quantity name is singular (and has been for very many years.) Thus "100 lumen" is correct.

But when the order is different, the grammar changes:

  • "This bulb is 100 watts"
  • "I just ran 200 meters to catch the bus"
  • "This plank is eight feet six inches"
  • "This tank holds fifteen gallons"
  • "Six feet ten inches? Forget the six feet, let's talk about the ten inches" (attr. Mae West)

There. Does that help?

Re:I have to out-pedant you here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28379101)

There. Does that help?

Oh, deer me.

Re:I have to out-pedant you here (1)

IpalindromeI (515070) | more than 5 years ago | (#28389817)

To be even more specific: In your first set of examples, the dimensions are actually adjectives describing some noun, and adjectives aren't pluralized. (Although I'm sure someone can find a counter-example.) In the second set, the measurements are nouns themselves, so they get the plural treatment.

Re:lumen (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28384381)

The plural ain't lumens, it's lumen group. (I should know - I seen them fellers in Vegas; they was pretty good.)

Re:lumen (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28386843)

Har(s).

Euphemisms (5, Funny)

tb3 (313150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375449)

random internet curiosities from the "misc" folder of my hard drive

That's the best description of porn I've ever seen!

Good projector for a netbook (1)

chiph (523845) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375479)

sounds like. Moderate resolution, highly portable, not super expensive.

Chip H.

800x600? Meh. (1)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375501)

Seriously, I know it's neat to use a projector and all, but 800x600 wasn't enough for me in 1992, let alone now. I suppose you could play StarCraft on it, and maybe type some things, but that resolution just can't cut it for any sort of thing I'd want to do.

I'd need at least 1024x768 for a reasonable computing experience, and preferably much, much more.

Right now that's actually the only thing keeping me away from the netbooks I've seen, until they have a better screen than my eight year-old Dell's 12" 1024x768 display, I'll stick with 'old high-end' rather than 'new low-end'.

Re:800x600? Meh. (1)

swb (14022) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375971)

Right now that's actually the only thing keeping me away from the netbooks I've seen, until they have a better screen than my eight year-old Dell's 12" 1024x768 display, I'll stick with 'old high-end' rather than 'new low-end'.

That's like saying you'd stay away from an economy car because it doesn't have a 600hp engine. There's a reason netbooks are cheap -- they use lower end components. A netbook with a modern high resolution display wouldn't exactly be $299, either.

Re:800x600? Meh. (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376573)

Well, most netbooks have a 10" 1024x600 display, which implies a higher ppi resolution than that Dell laptop. They're certainly not worse, just smaller. Furthermore, you can get some 10" netbooks (e.g. Dell's) with a higher-res screen. And the Dell 12" netbook has a res of 1280x800, again, higher than your old one. So much for that.

Furthermore, nobody is suggesting using a projector like that -- or really ANY consumer projector -- for a "reasonable computing experience". They're built for watching movies and playing games... If that's not the thing you do then you're really not the target demographic.

A bit more than retrograde.... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375571)

800x600 is not merely retrograde, it's downright Cro-Magnon! Four times that area was a minimum for me a decade ago. These days it's minimum 1920 horizontal or bust!

Get this guy a Princeton monochrome monitor from 20 years ago and he'll probably still be happy. :-)

Re:A bit more than retrograde.... (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375763)

These days it's minimum 1920 horizontal or bust!

Actually, Bust is much better in 1920 pixels wide then 800!

Re:A bit more than retrograde.... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376305)

^^^ True dat!

Usually, though, you probably want that 1920 in the VERTICAL, right? Flip that baby over!

Re:A bit more than retrograde.... (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375867)

800x600 is not merely retrograde, it's downright Cro-Magnon! Four times that area was a minimum for me a decade ago.

For a desktop, sure. For media, it's not too bad. I do find it a bit odd not to go up the few percent to 720 lines, bringing it in line with a typical 32" HTDV.

Re:A bit more than retrograde.... (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377113)

I do find it a bit odd not to go up the few percent to 720 lines, bringing it in line with a typical 32" HTDV.

720 lines is no good without the appropriate width, too... and 1280 is quite a few percent more than 800.

SofA Projector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375629)

Laser diode projectors are the latest/greatest and priced at $399.

Dark energy? (5, Insightful)

Woek (161635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375715)

Did anyone notice a problem with the picture at the top of the linked page? The projected images on the (white) walls actually have darker parts than the wall itself in the ambient light. What kind of light does this projector emit?? Or does it spray paint on the wall?

Re:Dark energy? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376135)

Well, you know what they say: sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Or a rigged demo. Or, as in this case, a VERY bad Photoshop job.

Re:Dark energy? (2, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376251)

Yeah, those pictures are pretty obviously faked. In fairness, though, it's probably pretty much impossible to catch an image of the projected screen using flash photography. On the gripping hand, it's faked FAR better than it actually would look.

Re:Dark energy? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28384123)

I don't know whether that's much of an excuse -- while it would indeed be impossible to get a reasonable image using flash photography, it's completely trivial to get a solid, representative image using regular old non-flash photography.

The problem would be, well, 100 lumens is really awful. So the room would look really dim if the projected image were to look good. Which is pretty much, well, the truth.

Re:Dark energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376541)

You have fallen prey to one of the classic blunders!

Never accept marketing images as valid when your geek cred is on the line!

Ahahahaha
Ahaha|

Re:Dark energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376833)

Hmm... the web site tells me to "let my imagination work it." This is is for pr0n!

Re:Dark energy? (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28378049)

Dark chip technology from TI :)

Seriously, most of the projectors in this class are under 1000:1 on off contrast. It should be very very low on your list of priorities if you are interested in these.

Re:Dark energy? (2, Funny)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381961)

" Did anyone notice a problem with the picture at the top of the linked page? The projected images on the (white) walls actually have darker parts than the wall itself in the ambient light. What kind of light does this projector emit?? Or does it spray paint on the wall? "

You use dark emitting diodes. Duh. LEDs and solar power get all the glory but I'm telling you now the future belongs to DEDs and Lunar power - all that moonlight going to waste that could be powering arrays of dark emitting diodes. Don't even get me started on monodes.

Re:Dark energy? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28383337)

You use dark emitting diodes.

You mean "darkness emitting arsenide diodes (DEADs)"? (As in "better DEAD than LED"?)

(I tried to find the old article on them - late 1960s - but it doesn't seem to be archived anywhere handy.)

One useful application: Darkroom without walls. Very handy for chemical/paper photography processing in small apartments.

Re:Dark energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28383255)

I wish that could get them sued for deceptive advertising, since most non-technical people simply won't notice anything wrong in these photos. Heck, this /.er didn't even notice it before reading your post, even if it's quite literally plain as day.

Re:Dark energy? (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28384459)

Yes, obviously faked (just look at those scintillating beams coming from the projector).

But still not 100% impossible. Before you start wondering if a cuckoo is about to spring from my forehead, let me explain:

A few years ago researchers developed a dark cloth that reflected three very narrow wavelengths corresponding roughly to pure red, green and blue, designed for DLP and other sequential colour-channel projection technologies. This cloth would look very dark, except when illuminated with high intensities of these three wavelengths. This way you could have a small black square on your white wall, and get an effect similar to those publicity shots.

"incandescent"? or plasma arc? (1)

fortunatus (445210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375721)

He keeps talking about projectors at 1200 lumens using incandescent lamps - but I'm pretty sure he means "xenon plasma arc" lamps.

How good is it for a 19" display? (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375759)

With the really low lumens I'm less interested in these pico-projectors for large washed-out displays, instead I'd like to see them reviewed as portable monitors - bigger than a netbook's LCD but not too much bigger - say 19 or 20 inches in diagonal. Can they focus down that small? What is the throw range for such a small image, and of course, how is the brightness when it is all concentrated over such a small surface area - good enough for daylight viewing?

Also, anyone try using a pico-projector for a home-made HUD in their car? Is 100 lumens enough for a 5" display on glass?

Re:How good is it for a 19" display? (2, Informative)

timothy (36799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377311)

With this one, at least, it can focus down to about 2 feet, at which point (I'm guessing, holding up a sheet of paper) it's about 20" diagonal. The problem is, since the keystone correction can only do so much, that you've then got the projector right there in the way :) If you have a desktop area though and give it another foot, placement gets a little more reasonable.

I also thought HUD, but, well, not with this projector in particular.

timothy

Automatic keystone correction / surface mapping (2, Insightful)

lannocc (568669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28380911)

With this one, at least, it can focus down to about 2 feet, at which point (I'm guessing, holding up a sheet of paper) it's about 20" diagonal. The problem is, since the keystone correction can only do so much, that you've then got the projector right there in the way :)

Perhaps you could use something this technology for automatic projector calibration [youtube.com] to map to your "paper" surface :-)

if your gonna be cheap go all out. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375839)

my insight on this,... and this is coming from a DIY work with my hands kind of guy.

With the economic down turn the way it is.
Ive been picking up flawed projectors on ebay for $20 - $40.
some with lamps near the end of life, some with mechanical or physical defects but a strong lamp life.

trying to get multiples of the same or similar models with different issues.

doing this I have aquired 5 lcd projectors. 3 in excellent shape and long lamp life, 2 with minor blemishes in the image but long lamp life.

the average cost of each of these home refurbs is $60 to $75 out of pocket and each projector has a minimum of 700 lumens and up to 2000 lumens.

so for under $400 I have enough projectors to rent out for events, set up art installations, set up rogue inprompto drive ins and home theater for many years to come, with very little refurb needed to get me there.

I hope the video makes more sense with sound (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375935)

After watching the intro to the video on the product page which I will simply title "Mr. Joybee: Surfing Vampire" I have to say that I hope it makes more sense to those with speakers attached to their PC. Seriously, stick figures?

Re:I hope the video makes more sense with sound (1)

grimmfarmer (529600) | more than 5 years ago | (#28377585)

No, not greatly. This has to be the daffiest product video I've seen since 1980.

And I noticed his vampirism on the product page graphic. Apparently, most of his relations are vampires. Why do you suppose that is?

A poor man's monitor (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375953)

You can get a monitor card for your computer and view whatever is on your monitor onto your HDTV. Some HDTV has a card slot so that you can project JPeg on your HDTV. My PSP (slim) only requires a $20 cord adaptor to project JPeg or movies onto a television screen YMMV.

Warning (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375991)

Do not look into LED projector with remaining eye.

What's Your First Projector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28377775)

The first projector I saw was my Dad's slide projector. Most video projectors (except theater-grade DLPs) can't hold a candle to a Kodak Carousel that you can get at a garage sale for 25 bucks.

Re:What's Your First Projector (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382005)

"The first projector I saw was my Dad's slide projector. Most video projectors (except theater-grade DLPs) can't hold a candle to a Kodak Carousel that you can get at a garage sale for 25 bucks."

Yeah but it's a bitch to a) digitize a movie onto slides and b) get the projector to go fast enough so you get 24 fps. Hats off for trying though.

Too limited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28379349)

800x600 ?? Are we stll in the 90's?
No truly useful connections -- just USB, an ipod type dock, and a headphone jack. You're going to get nickel and dimed to death by the time you're set up.

Maybe at $2-300, but not at $500

The cute little video... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28380845)

Who'd have thought that a stick-figure vampire playing Nintendo could look so cute.

I'm glad we didn't have to watch Mr Joybee whip out his joystick though.

Re:The cute little video... (1)

Wuhao (471511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381301)

I'm glad we didn't have to watch Mr Joybee whip out his joystick though.

Yeah, but he does spend a lot of time with his LED projector watching "home made movies" with his girlfriend.

Possible DIY Surface Projector? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28383731)

Might be an interesting option for a DIY Surface PC. Would like to see someone take one and use it for that. The resolution is about right and the size definitely helps!

Incomprehensible Review (1)

skoda (211470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28383795)

"keeping the signal locked, ..., doesn't always work. My Gnome desktop has blinked on and off a few times, inexplicably; a "Searching all signals" message appears on screen, but it only manages to automatically recapture the signal about half the time. ... ... the lamp will cycle through several colors and brightness levels. Sometimes this is fleeting -- just a momentary change -- but sometimes the image takes on a new hue and stays that way for minutes."

The projector doesn't work correctly, sporadically dropping the signal and randomly changing color temperature...and it's given an 80% grade? What sort of nonsense review is this?

Who is this review for? Who pays $500 for a dim, low resolution display to watch movies or surf the web? For the same price you can get a 22" - 36" 1080p display for home use, that shows a consistent, quality image. For the same price, you can buy a portable projector, that works properly, for professional presentations.

Chill ... Nothing a fix can't fix ! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28386765)

One magic word: bug fixes.

More than a million people are accepting PC bugs, daily from Microsoft, why wouldn't this machine get the chance to get it's bugs fixed?

Not just for video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28384025)

I've been interested in trying to find a cheap projector that can be used for monochromatic display instead of full colour. Why monochromatic? Well, laser-based should be able to have great intensities, and great clarity. Would we wonderful for simple presentations or mostly textual displays.

Do these things exist in the sub $500 range?

DisplayLink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28387129)

Why on earth hasn't some Taiwanese OEM wed a DisplayLink chipset with a microprojector?

Considering the power consumption of the upcoming laser based microprojectors, you could have a USB powered microprojector that shows up as a monitor to your computer. No damn video adapter dongles necessary.

Is it really that hard?

Hell, how about regular projectors with a DisplayLink chipset, maybe a virtual CD-Rom containing drivers served over USB as well.

800x600 is NOT "good enough" for widescreen SD (1)

sremick (91371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28393985)

"I'm probably at least a few years from buying a Blu-Ray or other ultra-high definition device, so beating the 720x480 resolution of typical NTSC DVDs meets most of my movie- and Hulu-watching demands."

Not if you're watching widescreen DVDs. At worse, watching a 2.35:1 movie inside of a 800x600 (4:3) screen means you only get 340 lines vertical resolution, by my math. That's a lost of 20%.

Not worth it... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28446589)

I have a 1024x768 1700 ANSI lumen (that's 17 times and bright, and 1.6 times as big) beamer, with a price tag of only $200 more. Sure it is bigger, but the last thing that I care about is the size. Why would I move it anyway? I mean I have positioned it all carefully for the best home cinema experience.

The only point of such a beamer would be a mobile phone. But then it would have to be at least 3000 ANSI lumen, to be of an actual use.

So it is still a long way to go. :)
Which does not mean that I think there is anything bad in the concept of LED beamers. :)

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