LightPad turns your cell phone into a laptop, projector

Debuting here at CES, the LightPad mixes a handheld projector with a laptop dock. It sounds weird, but it's also kind of neat.

The LightPad plugs into your smartphone and a turns it into a laptop of sorts, complete with keyboard and trackpad.
The LightPad plugs into your smartphone and turns it into a laptop of sorts, complete with keyboard and trackpad. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Tiny projectors might soon be a standard feature on smartphones, but until that happens there's the LightPad.

Demoing here at CES, the LightPad is a pico projector mixed with a keyboard and trackpad. You plug in your phone and it beams out whatever is on the screen to a nearby wall. But its main feature is that you can flip up the lid and turn it into a laptop of sorts, with software that adds a virtual mouse.

Part of that idea has already showed up in a mass market product, specifically Motorola's Atrix smartphone, which can plug into a laptop-like dock and create a portable computer . The big difference here being that there's no LCD display to speak of.

The LightPad sports a 854-by-480-pixel display, which comes in a little under what most high-density smartphone displays now ship with. A second-generation model slated for release next year promises to bump it up to 1,280-by-720 pixels. And while it wasn't on display, the projector can throw images up to 40 inches diagonally.

Along with the projector and keyboard, the enclosure contains a battery that will power the projector for five hours, with next year's model jumping to seven. The next-gen model also promises to cut size and weight, while boosting brightness.

The LightPad will ship in the second quarter of this year. Creator QP Optoelectronics hasn't named the price, but the company told me it would likely be around $300.

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