Aiptek's Handy Notebook Projector

Share

Pico projectors emerged in 2009 as a new category thanks to the convergence of three crtical factors: the white LED as an illumination source, tiny projection chips to form the image, and rising numbers of notebook and netbook users looking to enlarge the picture. Given that the big plus of these wee projectors is ultra portability, how does a manufacturer make them even smaller? One way is by removing the battery, which is exactly what Aiptek has done with the Pocket Cinema T20 LCOS projector.

Power is derived exclusively via USB cables from the source computer, thus shaving a couple of ounces off  the weight versus a model with a battery. The resulting size is equivalent to a deck of cards. A 3-foot USB mini-B male to two USB Type-A Male Y cable is included, so you'll need two available USB ports on your computer. You could get by plugging into one, but the image brightness is doubled and color fidelity better maintained using both. Considering that the projector brightness is rated for 8 ANSI lumens, typical for the first generation of pico projectors but a small fraction of what you get from a larger projector, you'll want all the boost possible.

Like a Flip Video camera, the T20's software uploads to the computer the first time you connect it to a USB port. There's a toggle on the back of the projector with a default setting for uploading the software. Once installed, you reboot and slide the setting to projection mode. Because the driver software is always in the projector, you'll be able to use it on the fly with a variety of Windows computers without bringing a disc or having an Internet connection. In the box are a Quick Guide (printed in eight languages), a carrying pouch with belt loop, and a tripod.

The tripod is Lilliputian for sure, but it does raise the projector some 6-inches above a table, which is better than placing it directly on a surface since there are vents. You can adjust the tripod to point the projector at an angle, though not too much or the sides of the image won't be parallel. Because there's no battery, the device doesn't get hot, so you could project the T20 indefinitely from the palm of your bare hand. Even after a half hour of use, the projector was barely warm. Of course, you could attach your own taller, heavier, or more flexible tripod to the socket on the bottom of the projector.

A projection icon on the Windows toolbar lets you right-click to choose such modes as mirror for projecting exactly what you see on the computer monitor or extended for projecting a different window. In the latter case, if you move the mouse pointer off the right side of the computer screen, it shows up on the projected image. Extended mode is useful if, for example, you have word processing notes on your computer screen while projecting a PowerPoint presentation. Incidentally, in either projection mode, the computer monitor will be reduced to VGA resolution, matching the projector's resolution. When you turn off the projector, the monitor will automatically revert to its previous setting.

The only recurring control on the T20 projector is the manual focusing ring (right). Image size is increased by simply moving the projector away from the wall or projection screen. According to Aiptek, the useable image size falls in the range of 6- to 50-inches. I found that an image under about 10-inches is bright enough to be seen in a lit room, but you'll want total darkness for something above about 42-inches. My compromise was projecting about a 30-inch image in a dimly-lit room. For sharing images and video from your computer with a few people in a small room, the T20 is a nice fit.

Keep in mind that there is no audio connection to the projector and no speaker. If sound accompanies a video streaming from the Internet or playing from the computer's DVD-ROM drive, you'll depend on the PC's internal speakers or external speakers connected to the PC. Unlike some other Pico projectors, there are no inputs or adapters provided for a composite video or iPod connection. Aiptek labels the T20 a notebook projector, but at least you don't need a VGA output -- just two USB ports. By the way, projection and computer time will be severely limited if you expect to depend on the notebook's battery alone. It's prudent to keep the computer plugged into a wall outlet or power strip.

While there's some flexibility for projector placement  when using it with an easily-moved notebook, that may not be the case if connected to a desktop PC, especially one situated under a desk or podium. In the latter case, I found the supplied 3-foot leash too constricting. But you can double the connection length by substituting the USB Mini-B Male to 2x  USB Type-A Male Y-Cable from CablesToGo (right). It lets you place the projector up to 6-feet away from the computer. Also, the cables are color-coded: black for the video signal and power; red for the power and resulting brightness boost.

I found the Aiptek Pocket Cinema T20 Notebook Projector simple to use and fun to project still and video images in a meeting with a small group of colleagues. It's so small that I'd have no problem making it a permanent member of the accessory entourage I carry in my notebook computer case.

Add new comment

 me gustaria saber de cuantos lumenes es el aprato

esteban huaman wrote:

 me gustaria saber de cuantos lumenes es el aprato

"the projector brightness is rated for 8 ANSI lumens"

How bright is this thing ?

El aparato tiene 8 Lumenes.

"Considering that the projector brightness is rated for 8 ANSI lumens, typical for the first generation of pico projectors but a small fraction of what you get from a larger projector, you'll want all the boost possible."

How much does it cost?

I am getting tired of "this works for PC computers." Left unsaid, is that once again Mac folks are left out. This is a nifty idea and I would like one to show my extended family what when on at the beach over the years and what stars they are.

Chase and ATT and Time-Warner and Verizon all have Security Suites for "free." No way -- this is a distortion of the facts and not legal puffery. After having Macs since 1984 and an Apple 2 + with 64 kbs memory, eventually in about 1992, I could by a new 1 MG chip and that was remarkable.

Sometimes I have to buy something in order to see if it had a universal platform. Nothing in the press releases said one way or the other. Then I had to see if I could stop the order. Sometimes I could but usually not. I do not order from that company again if I can help it.

I have a $1200 HP dv9600 still in warranty that just sits on the floor. When I try to boot it up using the 1 disk software provided to me HP, I have a transient glimmering of what might be.

I think I will ask for a new laptop that runs Windows 7. This might approach parity. I do have a new iPad, that is pretty wonderful for digital photographs only if you leave them on their memory cards and wait to fix or correct them while they are in the iPad. Not very good.

The books are nice if you can avoid mistakes made by iTunes.

The piano things like "Virtuoso" are absolutly absurd. I wear a size 4 1/2 ring, can barely span an octave. I took 8 years of piano 2 or 3 x a week. My fingers are wider than the keys, so my facility in playing is lost. If you like using a nail to pick out a one note at a time composition, good for you. When I was 3 or 4 years old this size would have been perfect.

Now although I still dislike the apartheid between the MACs and PCs, I not hate even more, that reviewers think that 3 of a 5 scale reflects a glorious new Apple arrival.

I have never had an iPhone, a MacBook or a MacBookPro. I do have a 2nd generation nano iPod graced with a pair of Bose headphones. I prefer listening in the concert hall or to a very high definition, uncompressed, stereo.

I would like some of the basics to be up dated and saved. Snow Leopard after 2 or 3 repairs is pretty wonderful and smaller in MB consumed. I say Bravo!

Bring on the new melded with the best and truest of the old, Mac format of course, except for the too-bright monitors on the MacBook Pros and larger iMacs.

Let's be excited about new sleek design well fit to its purpose. Apple has done this before and can do it again if they want to. I know at least about music. In 1988, pre-MIDI, I got music books of duets. I played in and recorded one side. Then I could play that prerecorded first piano part while I played the second set of two hands. I could  do that with 1 MB.

I went to Stanford and knew the music professor who wrote the code for the music in such an elegant way. He did not make money. It was magnificent, and it helped maintain my sanity in the face of a pediatric practice with about 85-90% o the kids and families having never seen a doctor, having never been effectively immunized so that the children and I had whooping cough, etc. I had been up to date with my DPT and then dT so I was pretty much protected against diptheria, whooping cough, and tetanus.

This is a long way of saying what I want, or dislike, or resent. What I think is magnificent and exceeds my hopes.

Bring it on!