When rumours began to float about last week that Nikon was about to unveil a camera with a projector built in, we laughed it off. What a daft idea! Who'd want to make one of those? What sucker would part with cash for -- oh hang on, Nikon's only gone and done it. The Coolpix S1000pj is the world's first camera with an integrated projector.

The S1000pj is a 12-megapixel snapper with a 5x zoom. The projector has a contrast ratio of 30:1 and brightness of 10 lumens, with 1 lumen being the same as one candle. According to Nikon, the built-in projector will display a VGA image of approximately 12 to 100cm, with a throw of up to 2m. The camera comes with a remote control and projector stand.

The question is, why? We've seen mini-projectors such as the tiny Pico. Samsung has even put a projector in a mobile phone. We can sort of see the point of that, because you could video chat or project a keyboard on to a flat surface for emailing or working. But projecting pictures on to the wall? Isn't that a bit Seventies? Let us know in the comments if you can see yourself gathering round the projector for a slideshow of Belgium's most exciting lampposts.

Nikon has previous with this sort of wacky convergence. It's been punting Wi-Fi cameras for a while, including the Coolpix S52c. Now that is an idea we could get behind. Sadly, the S50 series have all been distinctly average cameras apart from the wireless feature, and we worry the S1000pj will suffer the same fate. So as not to threaten Nikon's higher-end models, it could well be an undistinguished camera slapped with an undistinguished gimmick.

Still, we're nothing if not open-minded, and we'll happily eat our words if a hands-on session proves us wrong. At least we're in a period of innovation in the camera market, with new segments opening up -- waterproof cameras, interchangeable compacts, and suprazooms -- and all manner of crazy ideas making it off the drawing board and on to shelves.

Click through our gallery to see how the S1000pj works and find out how much it'll cost. If you're at work you might want to put your fist in your mouth now, to stop you shouting at the screen when you see the price...

With a built-in projector for viewing images, the screen will mainly be used for composing shots, but is still a decent-sized 69mm (2.7-inch) across. Here's a thought: if playback isn't a priority for the screen, why not stick in a viewfinder?
Here we see the camera's controls: the button on the top left is the projector button.
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj will be available in September 2009 for around £400. Yes, you read that right. Four. Hundred. Quid.

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