|

Be a walking drive-in with mini projector

by Peter Crookes

Marketing 101: Make use of a brand, even if it is not your own. Electronics pioneer Texas Instruments does so with its DLP Pico projector, the PK-101. Sold under the Optoma brand, the PK-101 is said to be the world’s smallest and lightest projector. It goes on sale from Dec. 1 at the Apple Store in Japan with an iPhone/iPod kit and dock connector.

While the device works with non-Apple gear, too, riding Apple’s coattails is a savvy move. Hooked up to a video or photo source, such as an iPod or mobile phone, the PK-101 projects an image of up to 60 inches (152 cm) with a resolution of 480×320 pixels at a maximum range of 2.5 meters. It’s expected to cost around ¥50,000.

Like the iPhone, the PK-101 is palm-size, measuring 51×105×17 mm and tipping the scales at 120 grams. The projector uses a white LED bulb to produce a 1000:1 contrast ratio, better than many TVs, and a brightness rating of 10 lumens. For audio, it sports a 0.5-watt speaker and a headphone jack. The replaceable lithium-ion battery is good for two hours of continuous use, so showing one of Hollywood’s three-hour epics on the nearest wall will require the unit to be connected to an AC outlet. Rounding out the deal is a tripod socket for added stability.

Assuming you have a suitable surface to project on to, such as a screen or blank pale-hued wall, the PK-101 gives you the chance to share videos from your pocket player with other people.

Apart from watching movies, you can show a photo collection on your digital device to large groups of people, be they relatives, friends, or even complete strangers if you’re the exhibitionist type. Taking into account that the yearend holiday season is ahead, it looks like the makers of the PK-101 are also making smart use of the calendar. jp.os-worldwide.com/

Digital life: Western Digital is also concerned with moving digital content onto a bigger screen.

WD’s new TV media player, the WDAVN00, joins a digital source to your television or home theater system.

It doesn’t store the content itself but plays digital movies, music and photos from any mass-storage device with a USB connection, such as an external hard disk, memory stick, digital camera or portable media player. Visual content can be rendered up to full high-definition, and two sources can be connected at the same time.

For music, the WDAVN00 supports MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF and MKA; its photo formats are JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP and PNG; its video formats cover MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV and MOV (MPEG4, H.264).

One limitation is that the Western Digital gadget will not play protected content such as movies or music from the iTunes store.

The smart-looking black box comes with a remote control, measures only 40×100×125.5 mm and costs $130. You can buy the WDAVN00 directly from Western Digital’s online store. www.wdc.com/jp/products/, store.westerndigital.com/

Double duty: Keian Japan appears to be thinking outside the frame with its upcoming P71-A2-JP, a combination digital photo display, photo printer and MP3 player.

The unit looks a bit like a small white TV, albeit with an unusually wide frame. The front face of the device has a 7-inch (17.8 cm) digital photo display with 480×234-pixel resolution. Printed photos come out of the top, and there are slots for data cards (SD/SDHC or Memory Stick with capacities of up to 32 gigabytes) and a USB port on the side for connecting to the photo collection on your computer.

Apart from displaying pictures, either as static images or slide shows, the unit has MP3 audio-file support, so you can play music to accompany the display.

What sets the P71-A2-JP apart for the time being is its image-printing capability. Using a dye-sublimation method, the Keian box prints out crisp photos up to 100×150 mm (L size) at 300 dpi resolution. Dye-sublimation prints look as good as the ones you get from the photo lab.

Packing all these functions into one body makes the P71-A2-JP awkwardly large (255×180×125 mm) for most places you would be inclined to display a picture frame, digital or otherwise. The fact that it needs AC power (adapter included) further complicates the choices of where you can put the thing.

With prices expected between ¥19,000 and ¥25,000, the P71-A2-JP is more expensive than either a comparable dedicated photo printer or digital photo frame. But put together, the P71-A2-JP is a value-for-money proposition.

The downside of any multitasking gadget is that you usually end up sacrificing on the quality of its individual features. Anyone thinking of a two-in-one option should always do their homework before buying. www.keian.co.jp/products/