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ZTE

ZTE SPro2 Pico Projector offered exclusively on AT&T

ZTE has been a staple of CES over the past few years, slowly iterating on it’s hotspot-projector combo options always showing up.  The SPro2 is their latest iteration and it brings a number of improvements to the device.  They’ve upped pretty much every spec you can find on the device, it offers 200 Lumens, with a 1280×720 resolution.  The battery is a 6,300 mAH battery, which should provide a lot of room for keeping it charged for hours at a time.  The hotspot built-in is slightly improved as well, offering 4G LTE connectivity with support for up to 10 WiFi devices.

A device like this is a lifesaver for business customers, giving them the freedom and flexibility to do a presentation anywhere, anytime.  The 200 lumens should be bright enough for a small presentation in a moderately lit room, while the Android system onboard and LTE connectivity give it flexibility to download presentations and play them back with ease.

The Android system is a fairly standard system, it has Google Play built-in meaning you can download any app you might have on your phone or tablet, offering TONS of options for playing back content.

The SPro2 also has an HDMI input for when you need a full sized laptop to do a presentation from.  The hotspot built-in is a great tool for anyone on the go as it gives you connectivity in almost any situation.

AT&T hasn’t announced pricing or availability for this yet but we expect it to be within $400-$550 and available probably Q2 of 2015.

We think this will be a solid device, but only if it lives up to the brightness and feature set they claim, we’ll get our hands on one as soon as their available.

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ODIN, a bluetooth speaker? a pico projector? Both? lets find out.

Audio/Visual presentations in the past were things that you not only needed large bulky equipment for but also something that had a very limited use and needed someone to run while the presenter was up giving the presentation.  More recently things like Bluetooth remotes and smart mice have allowed presenters to at least control the input source for the presentation remotely reducing the need for a person sitting at a desk running the whole thing.  The ODIN smart projector however takes these problems and provides a solution to every one of them in a compact, battery powered package that can easily be taken anywhere you need to go to make your presentation.

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The first thing we’d like to point out is that the ODIN is not the first android powered Pico projector, in fact it’s far from it.  There have been a handful of android powered Pico projectors that have been offered in multiple levels of brightness and portability.   Some of the more notable ones would be the AAXA LED Android which is a unit that sports the highest brightness by far at 550 lumens but does lack a battery and therefore is not as portable, the FAVI A3-Wifi which does have a battery and is ultraportable, however is LCOS and only runs at 30 lumens therefor making it very dim, and lastly the “Lightplay” smart Pico projector which is only slightly brighter than the A3 at 50 lumens, but has a larger body.  All of these smart projectors give you a similar experience where you can use the projector to download apps from the google play store, connect a mouse or keyboard, and has things like Bluetooth and WIFI connectivity.  Another thing they all have in common is that they tend to sport slower hardware similar to older tablets, making the android experience a bit laggy on all of the models we have tried out.

So, what makes the ODIN different?  Well first of all, the ODIN uses DLP technology from Texas Instruments just like the LED android from AAXA.  This is generally considered a higher quality imaging source than LCOS because it is very sharp and has a good vibration reduction which allows the image to stay sharp even if there are vibrations around the projector and also help keep moving images more in focus.  Most of the time DLP is used in larger projectors just due to the size of the imaging unit and due to the fact that LCOS is cheaper and easier to accomplish in small applications, using DLP in a extremely mobile projector like the ODIN is nice because it still gives you that awesome picture experience that DLP offers but in a small easy to carry, battery powered package.

Another thing that is really cool about the ODIN is it’s built in stand.  This stand allows you to basically have the ODIN at any angle when you are using it, you can stand it up vertically, or even just adjust the height of the image while it’s horizontal.  Although a stand on a projector also is not news they are generally small screw like units that you need to manually adjust to get the image at the right level position.  With the ODIN there is no adjusting of feet or anything like that, you simply lift the projector to where you need it and that’s it.  Although the stand that it offers is impressive, one major downside to the ODIN is the lack of a 1/4” screw mount on the bottom for hooking it up to a projector.  I know you may be thinking why would you need a tripod mount on a projector that already has such a nice stand and our answer to that is no matter how good the stand is on the projector, odds are you’re going to run into a situation during its usage where you need to put it in a position that the built in stand can’t support and you’ll be wishing you could just hook it up to a tripod and go.

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The ODIN also claims to be even more multi-functional by declaring that it is also a Bluetooth speaker.  While we do understand that the functionality is there for it to act as one we’re more interested in the actual quality of the sound.  With two 4 watt speakers and no sub we’re wondering if the ODIN is really going to sound better than a cellphone when playing music.  Either way it’s definitely a cool feature and innovative use of the Bluetooth functionality in the projector but it’s definitely not going to offer anywhere near the same sound quality as the beats pill or something of the sorts.

As for the specs of the projector, they are really nothing too special, it has a Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 running at 1.6GHz and 2GB of DDR memory which again is a lot less than even the common cellphone has.  Obviously we haven’t tested this to confirm but we feel it’s going to require a light android build for it to remain snappy and functional to offer an enjoyable android experience.  Even if it is laggy however having the android OS built into the projector does bring about some awesome possibilities.  People who use computers lightly or just for office work may find that a product like this could literally replace their computer and allow them to have a functional CPU that they can take anywhere and display much larger than any laptop you could buy.  Here is a full list of the specs that the projector offers so that you can compare them with other models for yourself:

OPTICAL TECHNOLOGY

  • Display Technology: 0.3″ DMD (Direct Micromirror Display)
  • Light Source: LED (RGB)
  • Resolution: WVGA (854 x 480)
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Throw Ratio: 1.66:1 (meter)
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
  • LED Life: 20,000 hours
  • 115 Lumens ANSI
  • Size: 25″ @ 1 yard to Infinity
  • Manual focus

INTERNALS

  • Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9, 1.6GHz
  • Android Operating System 4.4 KitKat
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • Wi-Fi (B/G/N)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 16GB Internal Memory

All of the technical stuff aside, the ODIN seems like a great product that is definitely going to make room for its self in the Pico market.  The price-point may be a bit high at $525 for pre-order and $675 once it’s fully in production so we’re curious to see how many people will actually go out and buy one of these.  Especially when you can get a model like the LED android for only $449 and while you may be sacrificing sound quality and battery power you would be getting a unit over 5 times brighter.  Once the ODIN is out we will most likely be doing a full review on it so stay tuned to see more on this awesome product.

 

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DLP 0.47″ TRP Full-HD chip on the horizon, what does this mean for picos?

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When it comes to pico projectors, Texas Instrument’s DLP technology dominates the market.  Although technologies like LCOS and Laser are still available, most major companies are making the move over to DLP due to reduced cost, increased image quality, and increased brightness.  As far as pico projectors go Texas instruments uses the same type of chip used in their cinema projectors just scaled down majorly to fit into a pico projector, this architecture is called TRP.   TRP has been around for a while but for a good amount of time now has only been capable of producing a 720p image, which needed to be scaled if the projector was going to produce a 1080p image.  The new TRP Full-HD chip can display 1080p natively without any scaling and is still the same size as the older chip.  To give you an idea of what kind of sizes we are talking about, here is a TRP chip next to a DLP chip for a cinema projector:

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And to give you even more size comparison, here is the same chip next to some everyday objects:

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The 0.47” TRP full HD chip doesn’t only bring new image resolutions to the game, it also can work up to 100 percent brighter and up to 50 percent more power efficient than its predecessor.  Talk about a jump in specs the new chip is already lined up to be the main chip used in all pico projectors by 2015.  Currently TI has a proprietary optical engine that includes the TRP Full-HD chip available but as with all of TI’s other optical engines; it does come at an increased price.

Third party companies are already starting to produce optical engines using the new chip and are all slated to start rolling out some time in 2015.  For the average user or small company, the chip will start being available on the TI store in smaller evaluation quantities and in larger quantities from TI authorized dealers in early 2015 which means that by 2016 we’re most likely going to see a jump in pico projectors from lower resolutions to mostly 1080p.

Now for the detailed stuff, the .47-inch chip sports a 1920×1080 array of aluminum mirrors in what’s called an “orthogonal layout” which is a fancy way of saying that all of the mirrors are at right angles to each-other.  On a flat surface, each mirror has a tilt range of 5.4 microns; this small movement is what allows the chip to control the color of the pixels in the image.  The movement of the mirrors are controlled by electrical signals and move on tiny hinges and yokes that allow the 5.4 microns of movement, with small cushions on the edges to protect them:

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The chip features side illumination for efficiency in brightness and to reduce the physical size of the chip.  All of the mirrors are polarized, which allows for less glare and better light management. There is also a 32-bit SubLVDS data bus available to the imaging unit for fast transfer speeds.  It’s really crazy to think that all of these features are packed into tiny mirrors that individually are less than the size of a human hair.

DLPchip

So as you can see, Texas instruments has taken all factors into account with this chip and improved it in ways that we didn’t even know were possible.  We’re really excited to see what kinds of products this chip can help make and also where this will take the Pico projector market.  This also opens up the door to even higher definition chips that are clearly in the future for Texas instruments.  It most likely won’t be long before we see the first 2k or 4k pico projector chip on its way out of production from TI, but until then, enjoy the new line of smaller, brighter, and more efficient 1080p pico projectors that are on their way out of development.

New Projector Tablet – Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 Review

Recently, Lenovo released the newest member of the Yoga Tablet line, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro.  A new type of tablet targeted at professionals on the move that need to be able to set up and give a presentation quickly and effectively.  There are a few major differences with this tablet that make it stand out from the other ones on the market currently.  The first, and one of the main marketing points on the tablet for Lenovo is the integrated Pico Projector, the tablet has a round base where the battery, projector, and power button are located, and this round part also has additional functionality as the stand for the projector when it is in stand up mode.  The tablet also sports a HUGE 13” screen at an awesome resolution for HD viewing, this screen is so big that it almost feels like you’re using a touch screen desktop.  The aluminum body of the tablet only helps to make the product feel solid and well made, however with this comes a lot of additional weight.  All of these features add up to make a solid product that could help most professionals (or even those who just want a sweet tablet) get things done faster and more effectively, so without further ado let’s get onto the review of this unusual tablet.
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Size and Usability:

With a screen clocking in at 13.3” no one can call this tablet small, in fact as far as tablets go this thing is a behemoth clad in an aluminum body that brings the weight of the device to a whopping 2 pounds which for a handheld device can start to get heavy after a while.  The huge screen allows for a huge keyboard, which really helps when using the tablet, it’s so big that it almost feels like using a normal keyboard on a desktop or laptop and it’s crisp resolution of 2560 x 1440 allows for a clear image no matter what size image you are viewing.  It’s an IPS display to boot which means it’s got a good response time and good color temperatures, the touch sensing technology is capacitive which means you get a nice smooth glass feel to the screen and that there is a much lower chance of scratching the screen.

The body of the tablet is designed very well, the cylindrical hinge at the bottom of the unit is the heaviest part of the unit and is generally the surface that the tablet will sit on while in use.  The hinge used is made of aluminum and is very rigid to the body of the tablet, this makes it very hard to move but is also a good thing because when the tablet is sitting up straight it allows for easy typing and no movement of the tablet when the screen is touched (a common issue with stand cases for tablets).

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One thing we’d like to point out is that this is no Nexus 7, you aren’t going to be using this with one hand, in fact you’ll probably be cradling it in one arm while using it due to its large size and weight, we found it very uncomfortable to hold in a standing position for more than 5 minutes at a time, at that point we found ourselves opening up the stand and setting this beast down.

The sound is an 8w UBL speaker located on the back of the projector which produces great sound, actually the best we’ve ever heard out of a tablet, for the first time ever bass tones are audible and the treble is clear and crisp.  This may be due to the massive amount of space that Lenovo was allotted to fit a speaker however we were impressed by its quality and volume, it’s definitely something that could produce enough sound for several people to hear while watching a video on the built in projector.  As for the projector, we’re going to be talking about that later in the review for several reasons, mainly though we felt that it just deserved its own section for good and bad reasons.

Projector

Now for the most juicy part of the review, the part that most people interested in the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro came here to read about, and the part that Lenovo probably doesn’t want the most true coverage on; The projector.

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It is one of the first mobile products we’ve seen that has a usable built in projector.  With all of the older mobile products with projection there was always the issue of positioning.  How do you use the phone to present and also have the projector in the right position and in focus?  This was especially true because there was just no way that you were fitting a tripod mount on a phone or a tablet.  This is where that sturdy stand on the bottom of the Lenovo tablet comes in.  By using the tablet in stand mode you are able to adjust the horizontal keystone of the projection by adjusting the stand, given that you are using a flat surface to project from this should allow you to get a good usable image out of the tablet, it is also very easy to use while it is in this position as it allows the user to sit and basically use the tablet normally without sacrificing the image quality.

Now for the bad parts, first let’s talk about the brightness.  The projector is dim to say the least, at 50 lumens it creates a dim image even in completely dark conditions, although it does beat the Lumi-tab’s 35 lumen projector, a 50 lumen projector would be barely visible in a lit room.  The focus mechanism on the projector is a small slider on the back of the unit near the lens of the projector, the slider is semi-stiff and hard to do small movements with and thus is hard to get the perfect focus, and we found it easier to physically move the whole tablet back and forth to get the correct focus.

Even when fully focused the projector doesn’t produce the clearest of images which could be due to the fact that when you hold the tablet the lens naturally touches your skin and gets smudges on it, but even when clean viewing text and web pages seemed to have a slight pixilation to the image which made text somewhat hard to read.  When viewing a movie the projector looked just fine, except on dark scenes where the brightness of the projector came into play and it became hard to differentiate objects in the shadows.  Lastly, the projector can only be used while the tablet is in a horizontal position, which means you aren’t going to be holding it while projecting like they showed in the promotional videos for the tablet.  Although we’re sure that most users are going to be using it on a table anyways it should be that big of a deal, but we did feel a bit cheated when we held it up to project onto a wall and the projection was completely sideways.

Projection Comparison

For a comparison, we set the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro up against an AAXA Technologies P3-X Pico Projector to test the brightness, sharpness and ease of use. In this demonstration, we have hooked up the AAXA P3-X to an iPhone 6 using an Apple digital AV adapter and an HDMI to mini HDMI cable. We will post a video later demonstrating the difference between the two, but we did take a couple of images which show a pretty stark difference.

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As you can see, the 70 lumen AAXA Technologies P3-X (left side) outshined the tablet pretty convincingly. Additionally,  the difficulty in focusing the tablet makes a dedicated micro-projector a much better option for  projection needs.

That’s about all we have to say bad about the projector in the in Yoga Tablet Pro 2,  it’s definitely a product that you could use for personal viewing and for a quick set-up for a business presentation, but we wouldn’t recommend it for much else. 

Specs

In this section we’ll go over the direct specs of the projector just so that you have a reference when you’re looking at this tablet vs others.

Processor: Intel® Atom™ Z3745 Processor

RAM: 2GB LPDDR3

Storage: 32GB internal, up to 64GB SD card for additional storage.

Sensors: G-Sensor, e-Compass, Ambient Light, Hall, and Vibration.

Cameras: Rear 8MP F2.2 with Auto focus, Front 1.6 MP HD

Wireless: Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n MiMo 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Dual Band, Bluetooth 4.0

Ports: Micro USB, 3.5 Audio Jack, Micro SD Card

Battery: 9600 mAh (up to 15 hours use time)

Screen: 13.3” 2560×1440 IPS display, Capacitive Touch, 10-point multi-touch

Sound: 2x Front Chamber speakers, 1x JBL subwoofer with Dolby audio, Wolfson Master Hi-Fi Codec

OS: Android 4.4 KitKat

Weight: 2.09 lbs

As you can see it’s got pretty average specs as far as high end tablets go, but it’s definitely a lot more powerful than your average sub $200 tablet.

 

Results

In conclusion, the Yoga Tablet Pro 2 is definitely a cool product that deserves its place in Lenovo’s line-up as one of their main tablets, although unique with its projector we honestly just found it to be such a low quality projector that it wasn’t really usable in a professional situation, we’d still recommend that you go the route of just getting a Pico Projector and hooking it up to a cheap tablet or laptop if you’re looking for a portable projection solution. The results will be a lot better and it will still most likely be cheaper than this tablet/projector combo.  But if you’re just looking for a big tablet to maybe replace a laptop or just something to easily set up and project movies for a couple of friends or yourself then this tablet will fit the mold, it’s definitely not something to immediately pass up as a multimedia tablet but may be something to overlook if you’re looking for a projector.

AAXA Technologies Releases the World’s Brightest Battery Powered Projector

It’s not everyday that a company releases a groundbreaking product, for AAXA, that day has come with the release of their M4 Mobile LED Projector.

The M4 is a compact projector that houses a new next generation optical engine providing 800 Lumens.  The built-in battery provides around 90 minutes of playback at 400 Lumens, which is still an insane amount for a battery projector.  Another great convenience is that the M4 offers a DTV function, if you have an antenna for your TV, you can plug the Antenna right into the projector and watch TV as you normally would on your TV, this adds a great deal of convenience and functionality to the unit.

AAXA has yet to send us one as a demo unit (please!) but from what content they’ve published on this unit it seems like a serious contender for anyone making presentations, this gives a full sized projector a definite run for it’s money.

Here’s a full breakdown of the specs:

Native Resolution: 1280×800 (WXGA)
Brightness (Plugged In): 800 Lumens
Brightness (Battery): 400 Lumens
Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
Maximum Image Size: 150″
Keystone Adjustment: Automatic
Speakers & Audio: 2x 2W Stereo Speakers, Headphone Jack
File Playback: MicroSD & USB Host
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Dimensions: 8.3″ x 5.3″ x 3.1″
Weight: 2.44 lbs

Inputs: HDMI, VGA, Composite A/V, DTV Antenna

You can find more info on the M4 Mobile LED Projector on AAXA’s Website: http://aaxatech.com/products/m4_mobile_led_projector.html

M4 Mobile LED Projector

Video Conferencing with a Smart Projector

One thing that’s always been a dream of mine is something you see in those futuristic movies, someone walks into a room, sits down and can start video chatting without any expensive or space consuming equipment.  Laptops brought this but if you have a large group of people it becomes hard to crowd around a small screen.

I had heard about some smart projectors coming out like AAXA’s LED Android and LG’s PA75U but I had never really put the dots together as to what you could do with them.  I saw this video online, the creator is demoing the video conferencing setup with their AAXA LED Android, it appears to work pretty smoothly with the Logitech webcam used.

Now if only I could setup something like this!

First Projection Watch to Debut February 2015

Ritot Smartwatch

 

A new watch is on the horizon that will change the game for everyone. This watch will be sleek and light, but will not have a face. This new watch is the Ritot Smartwarch. It is hailed as the “first projection watch”. Unlike traditional watches, which have a conventional display with either an LED digital face or an analog face, this watch will instead use a pico projector to project everything on the back of the hand.

Users can choose to view the time in more than 20 colors. Available in Sport or Bracelet designs Ritot offers vibrating notifications, messages and alerts. A shake of the wrist will dismiss a notification. Users can also set up their smartwatch to receive notifications like emails, calendar alerts, text messages, caller ID, Facebook messages, tweets, weather alerts and more will be projected by Ritot. After 10 seconds the projection will automatically disappear. Battery life will be around 150 hours in projection mode and 1 month in stand-by mode.

Even though the team behind it says that the pico projector is good enough for use in both night and day, we really have to see it in the flesh to ascertain how good or bad the readability is under direct sunlight. 

Dos Owls ODIN: Portable, Android Smart-Projector

Dos Owls Odin Pico Projector
Dos Owls Odin Pico Projector

From the AAXA’s LED Android to PhoneSuit’s Lightplay, there are many pico projectors that have a brain of it’s own.  The newest entry to an OS powered projector is the ODIN that runs Android.

Today Dos Owls successfully finished their campaign on Kickstarter to raise $250,000 to begin production. They successfully surpassed that goal by almost $20,000. Those who paid at least $445 will get their units in December; and then the device will hit regular stores with a MSRP of $845.

Specs wise, the ODIN sports a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and built-in stereo speakers, which allow folks to use it as a wireless speaker. Android 4.4 KitKat is running the show, and yes – you can install any app on ODIN and beam it to the wall.

When it comes to the lamp ODIN uses, it’s pretty much what we would expect from any pico projector – it’s a 115 lumen bulb with 1000:1 contrast ratio, and resolution of 854×480 pixels. We would love it even more if it was HD, but I something’s got to give, I guess.

The ODIN comes with a 3,000 mAh battery that promises a little over an hour of entertainment at full brightness or two hours in the so called “portable mode.” Alternatively, if you use ODIN as a wireless speaker, you can get up to 8 hours of music playback; though that’s not the point.

I’m kinda sad I haven’t caught ODIN before, cause now you can’t get it. I thought it’s worth talking about nevertheless. Hopefully, this won’t be the last Android-powered portable pico projector and that soon enough, we’ll be choosing between multiple different options.

Pico Projector Tracing

If you are not to artistically inclined or you maybe you are and want to turn your wall into a mural of what you just painted on a small canvas then this is for you!

If you don’t have a pico projector then you best go and buy one! Once you have your pico projector, you’ll need a design and a canvas. Simply projector you design from the pico projector on to your canvas and then start tracing away.

To give you an idea heres an instructables of tracing a design onto a cake.

Make Your Pico Projector Wireless With Chromecast

 

Pico projectors are small and plugging in a bunch of wires to just makes it hard to keep steady if you’re using a tabletop tripod.  So why not make it wireless?

This device uses your local WiFi connection to send audio and video securely from one device to another. Chromecast will basically create its own network with your WiFi to securely connect to your devices.
How to use Chromecast
 
Connect your Chromecast to your pico projector via the HDMI port. 
Download the Chromecast mobile application on your android/iOS devices or the desktop application.
Lastly, launch the application and enter your WiFi information.
Once you’ve completed these easy steps you can start mirroring your devices on your projector!