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Since starting work at my current school back in September I've been slightly amazed by all the technology that's now in use... back when I was in school (which isn't that long ago!) teachers were still using black boards or (if they were very lucky) they'd progressed onto white boards. However now nearly everything in the classroom requires some sort of technology in order for it to work effectively and what's more scary is that half the children in my class know more about these technological advancements than I do! One of the most recent products that has been given to me is a pocket cinema projector which really did amaze me... and also scare me a little in that I'd either break it or loose it within a week of having it!
Now we've all seen those big old fashioned projectors that came attached to a light box and allowed an image to be placed onto the box and then reflected onto a screen or a wall and most of us have seen a ceiling projector which is linked to a computer and allows the computer display to be shown on a whiteboard. However a pocket cinema projector was something I had never even heard of until a couple of weeks ago when a small gadget was left on my desk with a little post it note attached to it saying "Please try not to break as you're not getting another one! Oh and try to use it as it wasn't cheap!" I started to panic a little bit as my past record of not breaking things was not exactly what you'd call good to be honest!
The Aiptek T10 Pocket Cinema Projector came in a small box which was only a little bigger than that of a mobile phone these days. On the front was a picture of a gadget which can only be described as similar to a mobile phone or rather similar to the back of a mobile phone with a torch in the top! On the back there was quite a bit of jargon which I didn't really understand and therefore decided it wasn't really important. Inside the box I discovered a black gadget which was the projector itself, a Li-Ion battery, an AC adaptor, a 3 in 1 AV cable, a tripod stand and a quick start guide (however at this point I very much doubted I was going to get anything near a "quick start" with this product, more like a "long and pairnful start" for me).
This product is basically a very small projector which has been nicknamed by the designers as a mini projector for your product, quite an apt description as you can easily fit this into your pocket. It's 12.5cm by 6cm by 2.5cm which makes it a similar size to an iphone althought is is just a little bit thicker. It also only weights 160g which is under the weight of your typical small block of butter at a supermarket which means it's incredibly lightweight too. It's advertised as allowing you to show a quick slide show of images, to watch a video on a larger screen or to connect to a game console and allow you to project that game. It's an ideal projector to have if you're on the move, attending meetings or don't have access to a ceiling one.
The device can be connected to a range of other technological devices including a DVD player, a laptop, a camcorder, a games console, a mobile phone, an ipad or an ipod meaning it's compatible with a large number of devices. I've projected documents, photos and videos using this projector and have had no problems in terms of quality whatsoever. The Li-Ion battery means that the projector can be used anywhere and this lasts for about forty five minutes (it's advertised as lasting for an hour but it's never managed that with me). The battery can easily be recharged by connecting the charger and connecting it to a power supply which means you don't need to carry a bit bulky power pack around with this projector at all.
It's really easy to use the projector, so far I've used it with both my laptop and my ipod. You simply use one of the wires to connect it (be warned that you may have to buy a separate wire to connect it to some devices, I had to with my laptop which does limit where you can then place the projector) and switch the projector's power switch on. I find it best to attach it to the small tripod as if I try to hold in the images constantly move as my hand moves, the small tripod is an excellent addition to this product and is really easy to use. After that you just simply play your images or videos from your laptop or your ipod, the projector will just project them straight onto the screen although there are some dials to change the brightness.
The resolution of the T10 Pocket Cinema Projector is 640 x 360 pixels in 16:9 format which doesn't really mean a lot to me, all I know is that the images are crystal clear when projected, colours are quite bright and fairly crisp while any lines are clearly defined. The projector will project an image from 6 inches up to 50 inches away from the screen, this does depend on the lighting conditions of the environment and the colour of the background screen (a white screen is probably the best) however I've found about 30 inches away produces the best results on average. The LED lamp inside the projector has a life expectancy of up to 10,000 hours meaning you can use it for a long time before the bulb will need to be replaced.
In terms of sound the level of sound is acceptable, there's no sound control on the actual projector itself but you can alter the volume somewhat from the device it's connected to - if you turn it right up on your laptop you will notice a slight increase on the projector but not as large a one as you would expect really which is strange. The sound does come out of the projector really clearly and I'm happy with the quality and volume of this. Overall when it comes to working this projector I'd have to say I was surprised by how simple it was, the fact that it doesn't really have many controls or features means there isn't really a lot you need to understand - you switch it on, play your data and it projects it, it's pretty much as simple as that.
The main downside with this projector is that it's just not bright enough, even when projecting onto a white screen I have to turn off all the lights and shut the front blinds in my classroom to enable the children to see the images. Other people have reported that it requires almost complete darkness for the images to be seen and while I wouldn't quite go this far, I would suggest that you do need it to be rather dim. The other problem I've found is that the USB port can only be used to charge the projector rather than to allow it to project data from my laptop which seems to be pretty ridiculous when the USB port would have provided an ideal way to transmit and project information. I've had to spend a bit on buying suitable leads!
Overall this projector does the job even if the images are somewhat hard to see in a room where there is any natural light really. It's currently priced at £89.99 on Amazon which does seem a little steep to me, I personally wouldn't spend that much on this product although this does seem to be one of the cheapest pocket projectors available from what I've found on Amazon. I'm giving it two stars sadly, it looses one for the poor light, another for the fact I've had to buy leads to connect it to my laptop and a third for the price which seems a little high for something that works so poorly. Sadly I wouldn't choose to purchase this again... although I daren't say that to the ICT guy at school as I'm more than a little afraid of him!
Thanks for reading.