Aiptek Shows Pico and Micro Projectors at CE Week

Aiptek IBeamBlock resize

AT CE Week in New York on June 22, Global Aiptek Corporation (GAC) demonstrated three new pico and micro projectors, the iBeamBlock, previously shown in Europe at CeBIT and BETT; the new Flagship P800 and the MobileCinema i70. All three projectors are single panel DLP projectors with RGB LED light sources.

CE Week was the US introduction of the iBeamBlock. It is a modular projector where the three parts snap together magnetically. Since currently there are only three modules and all three modules are needed for operation, the modular design does not offer users any immediate benefits. However, when (if) additional modules become available in the future, the unit will offer easier upgrades compared to conventional, monolithic designs.

Left: Frank Sheu, CEO of GAC, holds an operating iBeamBlock. Right: The iBeamBlock broken into its three components. Top, the Windows 10 tablet computer, middle, the DLP projector section, bottom, the battery.

The iBeamBlock is targeted specifically at business applications, while the P800 and the MobileCinema 170 are targeted primarily at personal cinema or other entertainment applications, according to Frank Sheu, CEO of GAC. The iBeamBlock has two features specifically wanted by business users, but not needed by consumers. First, the projector runs Windows 10. As such, it will run all Windows 10 applications, including Microsoft Office. The iBeamBlock is a dual boot system and can also boot up Android, preferred over Windows by consumers in mobile entertainment applications. Second, the projector uses a Manhattan (orthogonal) pixel array, as will be explained below.

The iBeamBlock produces 400 Lumens output and has HD (720P – 1280 x 720) resolution. Even on the well-lit CE Week show floor, the 400 lumens was enough to produce an image size on a low gain screen that was comfortable for three of four people to easily see. Total weight of the three parts is 930g (2.05 pounds). The 12000mAH, Li-Polymer battery is said to be good for 120 minutes of operation. The computer portion has a 4.5” (114mm) multi-touch IPS LCD display and a Intel Z3735F Quad Core 1.33Ghz CPU. The unit will retail for $699.

The iBeamBlock differs from the P800 or the i70 in that it has a Manhattan pixel structure instead of a diamond pixel structure. The Manhattan pixel structure, with pixels arranged in an orthogonal array, does a better job of showing computer graphics with vertical and horizontal lines than a display with the diamond structure. A good example of an image that would be more easily viewed on the Manhattan pixel structure is an Excel spreadsheet.

The diamond structure has each pixel rotated 45° from the horizontal and was designed by Texas Instruments to display natural images such as photos or movies with maximum visible resolution on a DLP imager with a pixel count of only ½ of the chip’s nominal resolution. So an imager with a nominal 720P resolution (1280 x 720) would have 1.38 Million physical pixels with a Manhattan structure or 0.69 Million physical pixels with a diamond structure. In some DLP imagers, the diamond structure also simplifies the design of the projector optical system and makes it more compact.

Aiptek P800 resizeAiptek P800 projector and its projected image at CE Week.

The newly introduced P800 projector, said to be the flagship and first member of the new Aiptek Embedded Projector Series, is targeted more at entertainment applications than business. One of its most distinctive features is eight speakers, two facing in each direction and totaling 40W, to give 360° sound coverage. Output of the unit is 800 lumens and the resolution is WXGA (1280 x 800) with a diamond pattern microdisplay. The unit weights 2.5 Kg (5.5 pounds) and comes with a built-in carrying handle. Presumably, a lot of this weight is the massive 36,000 mA-H battery, which is said to give it four hours of operation. The unit is controlled from a 5” LCD touchscreen via an Android operating system. Given the large, low gain screen used for the demo and the high ambient light, the 800 lumens produced a surprisingly good image at CE Week. MSRP will be $999 and deliveries are expected to start at the end of July.

Aiptek i70 resizeAiptek MobileCinema i70 at CE Week in New York

The third projector Frank Sheu showed me was the MobileCinema i70. This is a true picoprojector and at 134g (4.73Oz.) will easily fit in your pocket for traveling. The i70 has WVGA (854 x 480) resolution with a diamond pattern imager. The output is 70 lumens. The internal 2300mAh Li-Polymer battery is said to be good for 80 minutes of operation.

One notable thing about this picoprojector is it includes both Miracast and Airplay, allowing wireless operation from both Android (4.4 and above) and iOS (7/8/9 and above) hosts. Wireless operation is via a 802.11b/g/n dual-band interface (2.4 and 5 GHz) It also has a mini-HDMI connector, if you need a wired connection. There is a USB port that is used solely to allow the battery in the i70 to recharge smartphones. I guess users think that having a smartphone with a low battery is a far more serious problem than a picoprojector with a low battery. There is no internal computer for streaming or other applications – the unit is dependent on the external host for images. The MobileCinema i70 is available now at a MSRP of $269. –Matthew Brennesholtz