So far we haven't been terribly impressed with the first few batches of Pico projectors, but some laser-based models appear to be more promising--though expensive. The Aaxa L1 has a $599 price tag and a ship date of February 12. Pico projectors that use LED-based light sources tend to range in price from about $250 to $350.
Aaxa says the L1 uses its PCOS technology, which combines a three-color laser light source, proprietary despeckling technology, and an LCoS image to deliver a 20-lumen output at 800x600 resolution without "the pixilation problems found in some laser projectors." Like other laser Pico projectors, this model offers "focus-free operation" so you can easily move the projector around to project an image at whatever size you want (the company claims it can produce color-rich images up to 50" in dark environments--we'll believe it when we see it).
Here are some additional specs:
- 20-lumen laser light source
- SVGA (800x600) resolution
- USB memory stick reader (2GB USB stick included)
- Onboard AVI, MP4, MP3, JPEG decoder
- Reads Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF files
- Composite and VGA input support
- 1.5-hour battery life from rechargeable battery
- Size: 4.2 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.8 inches, 170 grams (including battery)
- Additional accessories allow the L1 to connect to Apple iPhone/iPod, Microsoft Zune, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), and cell phones from Nokia, LG, Samsung, and HTC
As we said, this looks intriguing on paper, and competitor Microvision has attracted some attention with demos of its own laser projector, the ShowWX (see video below), which uses the company's PicoP display engine but doesn't have an exact release date or pricing.
An Aaxa spokesperson said its laser engine is completely different from the one used by Microvision. "Our engine uses an LCOS panel vs. their beam-steering MEM's design," said Max Hu, the company's director of marketing. "The diffused laser light allows higher brightness and classification as a FCC Class 1 product vs. a focused beam design which has eye safety issues. In that regard, our design has the potential for much brighter designs in the future (which we are currently developing)."
If you're interested in the L1, it's available for preorder, though Aaxa says supplies are extremely limited due to a the scarcity of laser diodes. Hopefully, we'll get our hands on a review sample sometime in the near future.