Nikon projector cam may go smaller, cheaper, better

Nikon is reportedly readying a second attempt at the digital camera and projector combo that would be improved in many ways.

Nikon’s Coolpix original S1000pj launched last year. The otherwise standard point-and-shoot camera included a projector that beamed images up to 40 inches diagonal on a wall. It was a neat idea, but critics generally noted that the image didn’t look so hot with lights on. For the privilege of mediocre projection, the camera cost about $150 more than other digicams.

Nikon projector cam may go smaller, cheaper, better

Now, DigiTimes’ unnamed sources (“market watchers”) say Nikon’s second generation projector cam will launch in August, this time using LCoS technology from HiMax. This camera will be able to connect with PCs, turning it into an external projector for PowerPoint slides or other multimedia, the sources say. Also, the average LCoS module has dropped from $65 last year to between $30 and $50 this year, and size was cut in half, so don’t be surprised if Nikon’s digicam is cheaper and slimmer.

Even so, there’s better technology to look forward to. Digital laser projectors are on the rise. They’re also dropping in price, from $100 to $85 on the high end, and sizes have shrunk from 11 cc to 8 cc. By 2011, Microvision, which makes DLP modules, is expected to ship 8 million for handset use. I saw one of these Microvision projectors at CES, functioning nicely in a well-lit room, but price was still a concern then, as it is now.

A mini-projector would be fun to have, but I think Nikon’s a little too early to the party with LCoS technology, and besides, I’d rather have a projector on a smartphone than a digital camera. But you’ve got to start somewhere.