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Optoma's Neo-i iPod sound dock crams in a pico projector

Optoma has unveiled what it says is the world's first iPod/iPhone dock with a built-in pico projector. The NEO-i goes hits stores in mid-December for $449.

Optoma's Neo-i arrives in mid-December for $449.

Pico projectors haven't really taken off like some people thought they would, but this new one from Optoma looks interesting. That's because Optoma has combined an iPod/iPhone sound dock with a "tabletop" projector, which seems like the way to go with these sort of projectors.

Though the Neo-i, which ships in mid-December, isn't cheap at $449, its specs are better than your typical pico projector. The company says the Neo-i is 50 ANSI Lumen DLP projector that offers WVGA (854x480 pixels) resolution in 16:9 format, with a "full-bodied" 16-watt stereo system. The Neo-i can also be run using an optional battery pack, and its bulb is rated at 20,000 hours.

Optoma says the docking station accommodates both iPods and iPhones, and you'll have three options for accessing and controlling your media selections: from your iPod/iPhone screen, the included IR remote, or the backlit control panel on the Neo-i itself.

In terms of connectivity, the projector has HDMI (1.3) and VGA ports that allow you to connect laptops, Blu-ray players, and other digital media boxes such as Apple TV or the Roku Player. An optional accessory kit will be available for connecting the iPad.

Optoma says it's not classifying the Neo-i as as a portable device, but it points out that the unit is relatively small at 12.8x8.9x3.1 inches and weighing 2.5 pounds, which makes it "easily" transportable.

As we said, at first glance it looks intriguing, and we look forward to giving this one a test run in December.