Pocket-sized home theaters make debut

January 12, 2009 4:48:47 PM PST
One of the biggest trends at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was the home-theater-in-your-pocket.

One of the latest categories of consumer electronics is one called Pico Projectors.

Just a few feet away from the world's largest home theaters screens at 150 inches, the world's smallest home theaters were unveiled. Smaller than mini and smaller than micro, they are called Pico Projectors.

About the size of an iPhone, they run on batteries and can project an image the size of a 42-inch plasma in a bright room.

Ian Brown of Microvision, which makes a laser version, says, "As we imagine the social networking phenomenon increasing, I would think many, many people will be sharing videos, sharing photos, that kind of thing with these."

The powerful beams of light are made possible for the first time by two technologies. The first is new super-bright LEDs.

The second technology doesn't use LEDs at all; it uses super-small lasers. They are so small, the whole projector mechanism could fit into a matchbook. Developed by Microvision of Redmond, Washington, the laser system provides more colors and does not need to be focused.

More than a dozen manufacturers will sell Picos for $200 to $500 depending on features. Some of those models, like one from Wowee, include the ability to swivel the beam. You can lay it on a bed and watch movies on the ceiling.

Other models come with removable memory cards, or with speakers and a charging stand for iPhones.

"As we look out further," Brown projects, "if these tiny engines get smaller even still, we could imagine to get them inside cell phones themselves. So we have one single device, if you like, that people carry around with them."

When the first one is built into a phone, you'll see it here at ABC7.