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Weighing the worth of projector add-ons

Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

You wouldn’t probably go looking for a projector built into your gadgets, but when someone bundles one handily so, it always is a good add-on. Cameras and now camcorders boast built-in projectors that promise to make sharing images more social, but is it really so?

Price: Rs 59,990

Sony’s High Definition Recorder–Projector (HDR-P) J50 claims to be not only a camcorder but a portable projection system, too. A built-in projector makes the gadget worthy of notice. Sony has built the J50 with that intent. But have they been successful in retaining the recording quality, while adding the projection function to the camcorder? The answer is a definite Yes.

For starters, Sony J50 provides full HD recording at 1080p, allows 12x optical zoom and a projector that can display visuals up to 60 inches wide. The killer benefit for serious videographers is ability to record and store up to 90 hours of footage, using the 220GB on-board disc drive. There’s an external memory card slot, too. On sound, the camcorder is equipped with S-Master digital amplifier, stereo speakers and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This ensures sound playback will never be a problem area for the video footage recorded. Even while recording outdoors, the built-in reduces external noises. Dedicated mic and headphone inputs can further expand audio recording options.

If you need to capture a still image right from J50, then the 7-megapixel still image feature comes handy, although the output images are not exactly the best in class. What we loved was the inclusion of features like Intelligent Auto that selects best video mode based on shooting situation, while features like Golf Shot and Tracking Focus help compose specific effects. Shutterbugs who take photography seriously will appreciate Sony’s professional-quality G lens.

Price: Rs 13,500 (approx)

GE’s PJ1 projector camera is already being billed as the thinnest camera, thanks to just 21.2 mm body thickness. The 14.1-megapixel PJ1 can shoot video at 720p and includes a 7x optical zoom. Even with zoom, the photos do not pixellate and capture details accurately. Features such as face detection, smile and blink detection add to the capability.

On drawbacks, GE PJ1 comes with just 18 MB internal memory and needs to be supported with an SDHC and SD memory card (up to 16GB), additional cost for the buyer. The pico-projector, novelty factor of this camera, looks inferior when compared with Sony’s J50 or even slightly older camera models such as Nikon Coolpix S1100pj. GE’s PJ1 delivers passable quality of projection but cannot be used for professional purposes, as the quality is just average. The pico-projector in PJ1 has a 15 ANSI Lumens brightness rating, making it a not-so-bright projector. For best results, we used the projector in an almost pitch-black room, from about two-three metres away. Closer the projection distance, better the output detail. When you look at the still photos taken by PJ1 on a larger size (a high-definition screen), the problems with the quality will be immediately noticeable. The rear panel on PJ1 sports a three-inch LCD screen and comes with a remote control and charging base that can be used while using projector presentations. The base includes a concealed fan that also cools the unit during prolonged use.

Price: Rs 15,000 (approx)

With the intent to bring a miniature projector inside a compact camera, operated with a touch screen interface, Nikon has added a new camera-cum-projector to its line. The Coolpix S1100pj digital camera builds on the success of their earlier projector camera model, the Coolpix S1000pj.

The Nikon Coolpix S1100pj has two lenses – one for taking photos and one for projecting photos on plain wall or any canvas. Images are shot with the 14.1-megapixel lenses and in low light, the camera struggles to focus but the built-in AF illuminator comes to the rescue. A touch-focus feature is included, where you simply touch the display screen around the area you wish to focus. What we liked in the built-in projector was that it can display images from either a memory card or a computer. The projector looks bright but projector brightness of 14 Lumens restricts its usage to pitch-dark rooms. The projector delivers watchable images up to a distance of 20 inches. Small touches like including an orientation sensor, so portrait-shaped shots are rotated during playback, make projector views easy. High-definition videos can be recorded at 720p resolution, at 30 frames per second. A dedicated movie record button, located on the rear, facilitates quick recording without having to fiddle with the menu. The recorded video footage is decent, though not detailed when played back on a HD display, though it cannot compare with Sony J50’s display.

First Published: Mon, July 11 2011. 00:13 IST