One thing that I saw come out of CES was this cool little Z10 projector from Nextar; it literally fits in the palm of your hand.
This little projector is capable of 640×480 and is based on LCOS technology. LCOS, or Liquid Crystal on Silicon, is the technology being used in most micro projectors and the small modules being made to add to new cellphones. This allows you to have a very small and pocketable projector.
If it was only small, it would be a good thing to stuff in a presenter’s bag as a backup. However it’s also good for entertainment. It has 1 GB of flash storage, and it has a MicroSD slot for adding additional storage. This storage can be used for storing audio and video files, and the projector itself will play it for you. For video, it supports the AVI, MPEG1, MPEG2 and MPEG4. This is a bit ambiguous as these are mostly video containers. They can use different codecs inside. I tried iPod formatted video on it from freely downloadable sites (creative commons licensed), and they worked fine. So that’s what I would use when trying to put content on the internal memory or on a flash card.
As for audio, it plays DRM-free MP3, WMA, WAV and AAC files, and it has a semi-cool display while it plays showing visualizations. It’s kind of cool, but not the primary use of this projector.
The projector also supports composite or SVideo In. You could use this to watch DVD’s without having to convert them to a digital file.
The projector also has a internal speaker, but you probably should use a sound system with it as the internal speaker sucks. I used some cheap speakers or even headphones with it and projected the picture on my ceiling while laying in bed watching some podcasts.
The projector can also be used without the ac adapter as it has an integrated rechargeable battery. The battery is sufficient for getting through a regular movie; anything longer than this and I would plug it in.
The lamp is listed as lasting 30,000 hours, which is long enough that you will likely upgrade to another projector before it wears out.
There is no screen included, but I just used my walls. You can purchase a 20 inch wide screen made to work with the Z10 for $39.95. Note: 20 inches will get you the brightest picture, but I have made bigger projections by backing up away from the wall and the quality was good enough. it was just not as bright. In a dark room, you could be many feet away and have a projection that nearly fills the wall.
The menus were easy enough to navigate. It reminded me a lot of the menus that I have seen on those little cheap camcorders. Checkout the YouTube video I took of the menu and of starting a movie from the SD Card.
Finally, I see the Z10 as the logical conclusion to these little camcorders. Imagine being at a wedding or party shooting video and then settling in and watching that video on a wall at home or later in the party? It’s small enough to fit in my Proporta gadget bag or in a common portable DVD case, and it is very handy to have.
This small projector has the following dimensions: 4.13 x 2.32 x 1.0 (inches). It also only weighs 175 grams or a little bit less than half a pound. This projector is so light, you won’t ever feel it in your bag!
The Nextar Z10 Micro Projector is available for $193.86 at Amazon.com. The screen which was not reviewed is supposed to be $39.95 recommended retail, but I could not find it available or in stock anywhere. I’d just use a wall as it’s more convenient.
What I liked: Very portable. Good thing to take in your bag for trips. Great to watch video in bed.
What needs improvement: Maybe higher resolution. Would be nice if it was 720p. It would also be better if you could hook to your computer via VGA or DVI.