Archive for September, 2008

A Mini-projector from Toshiba: Presenter’s Heaven?

Toshiba Prototype Mini ProjectorToshiba has always been a pioneer when it comes to technology for personal use.  It was one of the first developers of a commercial laptop with a reasonable screen size.  Previous efforts in the genre include the oscilloscopic Osborne 1, released in 1981 and weighing 10.66 kilograms with a 5 inch screen, the cute-but-small palmtop Atari Portfolio, and the Mac Portable, released in 1989 with a 10 inch screen and weighing in at 7.26 kilograms.

Now Toshiba has pushed the display envelope once again with the release of a prototype mini projector the size of an iPod, The “ultra compact” projector is capable of projecting an image if 50 inches (127 cm)  at  approximately 7 lumens and is powered by a built-in battery which runs it for around an hour . It ‘s RGB LED light source produces 480 x 320 HVGA resolution, driven by a modified Texas Instruments digital light processing (DLP) Pico chip set.  Also in the research works is a USB version the size of a thumb drive, designed for use with a mobile phone.

For me, the Holy Grail of computer use is to avoid staring at screens for any longer than I absolutely have to.  The text resolution of even the best LCD screens is still so poor compared to the printed page that I will always go for the hard copy version if given half a chance.  Obviously there area sometimes going to be situations where screen-viewing is required, such as watching animated graphics or video clips, so any device which provides an alternative to the standard screen has got to be a plus. Apart from the mini projector’s obvious use as a Road Warrior’s sales presentation device, I can see even better opportunities in using it to replace laptop screens, mobile phone screens and over-the-top projectors with blinding output and heat production to match.

This technology also offers exciting possibilities for online learning. Educational podcasting gets into trouble when it tries to extend into “vodcasting” as the largest hand held screens (think iTouch or IPhone) are still a little on the small side when called on to display complex labeled diagrams, music notation or text-heavy web pages,  for example.  By the looks of it, the mini projector just needs a handy wall or white card to display images at a reasonable size and resolution.

Interestingly, ToshibToshiba SSD with MLCa also launched a compact, large-capacity solid-state hard drive (SSD) around the same time.  This 2.5 inch drive has a quarter Terabyte (256Gb) of memory storage. and claims maximum read and write speeds of 120MB and 70MB a second. Mass production of the SSD will  begin in October of this year. This storage technology opens up the doors for media-rich educational applications – provided a reasonable broadband network is in place by the time the price has dropped.

(Images are from Tech-On, a Nikkei Business Publications Asia online technology magazine)

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