Pocket-sized LCD projector with media player

One snowy night while staying on the 15th floor of an anonymous Montreal business hotel, I got the sudden urge to try doing my browsing by projecting my laptop screen on the building across the road. I was doing speaker-support then, and I had our very powerful (9000 lumens?) humongous projector in my room, so I hauled it and the modem-cable out onto the balcony, put on an extra sweater, and spent an enchanting hour painting the black office tower over the road with a 40-foot-tall rendering of my screen. It was about 9PM and the snow was coming down and the whole neighborhood was deserted, so it was just me and my screen there.

Ever since, I've noodled around with ideas for things you could do with a high-powered, compact projector. That's why I found this Pico projector so suggestive: a pocket-sized device with its own media player, capable of rendering a 50" picture (how well I can't say -- for all I know, it looks like crap, but the idea is fascinating). This thing could be fun, and its successors will be even more interesting.



  1. Wow if that projector is 9000 lumen, I’ve never heard of one so powerful. I use a 3000 lumen projector (Dell MP2400, which is what my VJ friend recommended) to entertain the crackheads in my San Francisco neighborhood:

    Some pics

    1. They make projectors well over 9,000 lumens, but of course they’re huge and ungodly expensive. It’s the sort of thing they use in auditoriums or stadiums typically. Here’s a nice 20,000 lumen high def Barco:


      I love Barcos. But given that just the lamp will set you back $10k, (1000 hour life! $10/hour!) and it weighs over 200 pounds, it’s not an ideal VJ projctor. ;-)

      Your Dell throws a great picture for such a large, non-light controlled setting! Very impressive. Must make a great VJ projector.

  2. I’ve seen an alternative one – the Optoma Pico PK 101 – in action. The picture’s pretty damn good for a small projector.

    Won’t be doing anything in HD, sure, but awesome to keep it in your pocket – it has built in memory, and start impromptu open air film showings on any applicable flat surface.

    The battery life on thie Optoma is allegedly pretty good too – the colleague that was testing it had been using it for about 6 hours without recharge.

    As I’m thinking of going to film school, I can imagine using it to show the daily reels – even on an amateur/uni film – no need to lug around a big ass projector.

  3. the ‘technical data’ tab is… disappointing.

    Light Source: White LED
    Luminous Flux: 10 Lumens
    Projection Resolution: 640 x 480 Pixels (VGA)
    Aspect Ratio: 4 : 3
    Projection Image Size (Diagonal): 6” ~ 50” (15 cm ~ 127 cm)
    Projection Distance: 21 cm – 180 cm

  4. (and apologies – I should have typed 2 hours, I have no idea what kind of mental brain flip caused me to type 6! The battery lasted for 2 hours)

  5. There are lots of these pico projectors available, most of them around 10 lumens. That’s enough to get a decent 30″ screen from a few feet away in a dark room, but not much more. We’re just getting in to the second generation of them though, and I’m hoping we’ll see more coming in around 50-100 lumens, which is enough to actually get a good 5 foot screen on a wall or ceiling without complete darkness. Great for mobile presentations, and certainly fun for some entertainment when paired with an iPhone or PSP.

  6. The big epoch shift in pico projectors will be when they have laser-based displays, which will allow bright, clear images without focusing hassles. There are already some working prototypes (such as the one used in the famous ‘6th Sense’ TED Talk) and they should be purchasable in the near future. I intend to wait for these to arrive, at which point I will jump on-board with both feet.

  7. I have a 3M Mpro 110 that I got refurbished on an impulse, and almost immediately regretted. It’s 10 lumens, 640×480 like this one, and its invisible in daylight, practically useless except in pitch dark, and then only for about a 24″ screen. You will definitely not be using nearby buildings as a screen.

    I took it apart to see if I could upgrade the LED, but the LED/DLP bit is entirely solid-state.

    What I do find promising, though, is the idea of using LED lights instead of the short-lived, hot-burning, insanely expensive to replace bulbs in standard projectors. I don’t care about it being as small as a cell phone, but give me a projector comparable to the business-class ones on the market today without the requirement of replacing a $200 bulb twice a year and I’ll throw out my monitors.

  8. I was doing the same thing in the 70s, except it was a slide projector and my custom built gel sandwich slides portfolio. This leads to my #1 rule of art: Art is Artier when it’s a lot bigger! Rule two is similar: Art is Artier when it’s a lot smaller.

  9. And eventually the projector will be integrated into the laptop and then…I do not look forward to a future where every ride on the subway is ‘enhanced’ by people projecting pornography on the walls, the ceiling, and any attractive people present.

Comments are closed.