A look at recent innovations in projector technology

You know what technology is about to erupt in popularity? Projectors. I know that they have been around forever, but they are getting smaller, cheaper and better. I suspect that they are going to start to show up as fairly standard features on phones and PMPs one day soon (nothing could make more sense), and that they are going to be used more in the home and small offices once you can get a good one without having to mortgage your house to afford it. It’s hard to keep up with all the cool technology coming at us in the projector realm these days, but here are five recent developments that have me pretty excited:

LED projectors are shrinking so fast that this one has almost certainly been passed by something even smaller by now, but it’s a pretty exciting thing anyway. Sony has packed 14 LEDs into a single projector – four red, four blue and six green. It’s all in a package about the size of 2 business cards. It’s so compact that you can stick it pretty much anywhere that you could imagine.

This thing is so small that it makes the last projector look like a house. The Explay, which is probably nearing the end of its testing phase by now, is only the size of a matchbox. You can attach it right to your phone and blow up the size of your screen from the tiny one on the phone to a big one up to 35 inches on the wall. If all goes well, the Explay should be on the market by early next year.

I’m not sure what the Fraunhofer Institute is (though I find the name funny for some reason), but they have made a pretty cool innovation in the projector field. We have been limited in how much we can shrink projectors by the size of the micro-array – all the mirrors that make a projector work. The Institute has replaced the micro-array with a single mirror which can rotate on two axes. That allowed them to make a working projector the size of a sugar cube. The future is near.

Toshiba has taken a projector which can fit in the palm of your hand and which weighs just one pound, and made it available for less than $700. Incredible. It runs on a battery which sadly only has a lifespan of two hours, but you can’t have everything. It is small enough that you can take it with you anywhere, good looking enough that you will want to, and you can project an image of up to 68 inches. A video game would look pretty good on a display that big.

This is about as far away from the compact and affordable projectors as we can get. With this projector Sony goes beyond HD to full 4K technology. It is capable of projecting an image in resolutions up to 4096 x 2160. You can see an ant’s nose hair with an image that clear. It is obviously one of those things that you can’t afford if you have to ask how much it costs. It also weighs about 250 pounds, so you can’t exactly slip it in your pocket as you head out the door.


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