Digital projection and display manufacturer Optoma is making the rounds this week in New York to get the word out about a few new products coming down the pipe line. This morning, I met with Jon Grodem, the company’s director of product and marketing, who came armed with two Picos, and a lot of insight into where the projection market is heading in these heady times.
Over coffee and after a near disastrous water spill, Grodem unveiled the Pico PK-101, touted as “the world’s smallest and lightest micro-portable DLP projector.” Shipping now, (can you say, Christmas present?), the Pico has been getting some buzz both in the consumer and CI channels over the past few months – chatter that seemed more than justified after Grodem gave a makeshift demo.
Using a paper napkin propped up on a coffee cup as a projection screen, Grodem beamed an Easter egg scene from The Incredibles from his iPhone via the Pico. What transmitted in our relatively dark restaurant was an image rich with deep contrast, great brightness, and one of those rare things in a product-driven field: “wow” factor. The Pico is not a CI product, but it is terribly good fun, like a Viewmaster back in the day; and I mean that in a very, very good way.
The technical specifics of Pico are noted as “employing Texas Instruments’ latest DLP Pico Digital Micro-mirror device (the reflective chip that creates the image), and combines that with the latest in LED technology to produce an image with high contrast (1000:1) and enough brightness for users to project images under lighting conditions that would normally wash them out. Its 480 x 320 native resolution is a perfect companion for portable media devices. The Pico’s internal battery will power the unit for up to 1.5 hours on a single charge and can be recharged using the included mini USB cable. Signal input is through a 2.5 mm AV composite mini-jack, which can be adapted to most iPods and other personal media devices.” This is all true, with the added bonus that the Pico also comes with a mini tripod adapter.
From an ergonomics standpoint, Pico feels both modern and vintage. It is a simple, but sturdy black box that weighs about four ounces with straightforward inputs on either side. It is sleek in an old-school, familiar way with its heavy-duty black plastic and faux metal trimmings.
Grodem noted that Pico is the outgrowth of a market many developers have seen for a while: the utilization of newer devices, such as iPhones, to broaden the entertainment playing field. It will retail for about $399.
On a more CI-centric note, Grodem also told me that Optoma is now shipping the EX525ST (short-throw) Multimedia projector, which can project a high-resolution image as large as 100 inches diagonally at a distance of four feet from the wall. Sadly, a demo of the EX525ST was not possible at our French bistro, but I can tell you that it achieves such a short throw thanks to “aspherical lens elements that provide a throw ration of 0.6:1.”