Sony Xperia Projector beams out Android you can touch (hands-on from CES 2017)

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You won't have to unlock your phone ten times to follow online recipes as you cook.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The next time you want to share a hilarious video around the dinner table, you could all lean in and crane your necks to see the tiny phone screen, or instead, you could beam Sony's Xperia Projector directly onto the table.

That's because the projector, which is pretty close to its official launch, is basically an Android phone, minus the part where you make cellular calls. The neat thing here is that you aren't just viewing things on a counter or wall. You can interact with them, too. An infrared sensor makes the projected image a virtual screen that you can tap and type on.

The projection is touch-capable at 23 inches, and view-only at larger dimensions up to 80 inches.

You can use the Xperia Projector to:

  • Browse the internet
  • Stream music and videos
  • Beam a movie onto the wall (I'm envisioning using it in a kid's room instead of a TV.)
  • Video chat (it's got camera on it for that)
  • Play games with the PlayStation 4 controller
  • Play multiplayer Android games
  • Trigger Google voice search ("OK, Google")
  • Connect to a Bluetooth speaker (for enhanced audio quality)
  • Make a shared family wall calendar
  • Research and follow recipes
  • Plan trips with others
  • Carry around for work presentations

It took me seeing the Xperia Projector in Sony's demo space at CES to understand why you might want to have one. And a major part of that is the sharing-is-caring nature of a screen you can easily and conveniently turn off and on, move around and beam anywhere flat. You aren't closing people off by staring into your own small screen, so it makes the experience more social.

But I also liked the format because it gives tired thumbs a break from using a mobile phone. It's more natural to tap and type with more of your fingers.

It isn't all rainbows and moonbeams, though. For most people, it'll be an extra gadget that doesn't fill an essential need. It works better in the dark, and won't ever be as crisp as a TV, laptop or phone display. And if you move it, it takes a few seconds to recalibrate the image.

Sony doesn't have exact pricing or availability information yet, but keep an eye out for the official launch to come as early as next month's Mobile World Congress phone show, where the Projector prototype made its debut last year.

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