Hands on with Optoma's pocket Pico projector

This year's International Consumer Electronics Show saw the debut of some of the first prototype video projectors that are as small as cell phones. Now, just 10 months later, the first commercial products based on this cool technology are ready and so I settled down to watch a movie on one of them and came away impressed.

Optoma's really fits in your hand. It's no exaggeration to say its the same size as a cell phone or, to compare it another way, about the same length as an iPod 5G but a little narrower and taller. The precise measurements are 10 centimeters long by 5cms wide by 1.5cms tall and it weighs 114 grams.

There are just two controls on the device, a power switch and a focus control. Start-up takes a couple of seconds and then it's ready to go. The LED light is not only the secret to its small size but also means there is no waiting around for it to warm-up.

Video and audio is fed in through a three-terminal 2.5mm jack plug. Optoma supplies a cable with the jack plug on one end and female RCA connectors on the other for connecting up to anything that can supply a standard-definition PAL or NTSC composite video signal. I tried it with an iPod, set-top box and DVD player and it worked fine with all of them.

The unit can be set down on a surface, propped up with a book or attached to a tripod. The underside has a small screw in which a supplied adapter can be attached so it will work with a standard tripod.

Perched on my desk and projecting its image against a sheet of paper it delivered a bright and crisp image that was easy to enjoy. So much so that it wasn't until I got to the end of my second episode of "The Simpsons" that I remembered I was supposed to be working. And good timing too because the battery died half-way through the third episode.