Samsung’s pioneering efforts with ultra-portable projectors and Blu-Ray
Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business
February 23 - March 1, 2010 issue #1061
High Tech Office column
Along with getting paid, part of the fun of writing this column comes
from being able to try out tech gear before it becomes commonplace.
While I like to say that you can tell the pioneers by the arrows in
their backs, here are a couple of things we may all be using in a
couple of years that you may find useful now.
•Blu-Ray on the desktop. A year ago, Blu-Ray won the battle for
next-generation high- capacity, high-definition video storage device,
beating out the competing HD DVD format. The result: increased home
sales of standalone Blu-Ray players for connection to the increasingly
popular hi-def TV systems. Sony’s popular PlayStation 3 also includes a
They’re rare in computers, however, even though many of today’s desktop
and notebook systems have more than enough resolution for high-
definition video content, and even though some computer software is now
shipping on multiple DVD discs to hold related media content.
Samsung’s SH-B083 ($130) is a bare optical drive – no case. That means
it can be plugged into many desktop computers either as an addition or
a replacement to the current DVD burner, using now-standard S-ATA
Alternatively, it can be plugged into an external case for connection
to most laptops.
It isn’t a Blu-Ray burner. You can’t use it to burn 25 gigabytes onto
blank Blu-Ray discs, assuming you could find some to buy. A combo
drive, it reads Blu-Ray discs just fine and reads and write the various
types of CD and DVD discs. It uses separate lenses for Blu-Ray and
CD/DVD, which Samsung says offers greater reliability. Bundled
Cyberlink Power producer software (Windows-only) can be used to burn
high-definition video content to DVD.
We’ll see if something like these will become commonplace, allowing
content providers to ship a single disc holding 25 gigabytes or even 50
gigabytes (double-sided). Or maybe not. Apple, apparently, is betting
against Blu-Ray, believing that users will, instead, be getting large
quantities of content online rather than on shiny plastic discs,
preferably from Apple’s online stores.
Despite that, Samsung’s drive worked just fine connected to my Mac.
•Ultra-portable projectors. Digital projectors have become commonplace,
but most are a bit of a chore if you have to tote them around. Also
from Samsung, the $800 P400 offers some big-projector capabilities in a
compact package that’s a mere 15 centimetres (5.8 inches) wide and
weighs under a kilo. Some small projectors put out a relatively small,
dim image, which is OK for making a sales pitch in a small office to
one or two customers. The P400’s 150-lumen brightness is clearly
visible even with room lights on, giving a reasonably bright,
high-contrast, two-metre-wide image, projecting to a screen or wall
anywhere between half a metre to three metres away.
SVGA and RCA composite and audio inputs let you connect a laptop, DVD
player, digital camera and more, while the use of an LED light source
means no worry about broken (and expensive) bulbs. (The lamp is rated
at 30,000 hours of use, which equates to two hours of presentation five
days a week for 38 years.) Samsung’s claim: one lamp, one life. (Note:
there’s also an $830 P410 model that adds a USB port, which allows you
to leave your laptop at home.)
It doesn’t do everything its big siblings do, however. Don’t expect to
use it to project hi-def video with its 800x600 resolution. It’s not a
home theatre replacement. The built-in audio is fairly puny. It’s
barely loud enough to be heard above the noise when the cooling fan
ramps up. And there’s no zoom.
Finally, the P400 itself is small and light, but Samsung calling it a
“pocket imager” is a bit of a stretch. The external power supply,
moreover, is nearly the same size.
That makes it somewhat less easily totable than it might seem at first
glance, though the whole thing will fit into a typical briefcase with
room to spare. Recommended for road warriors. •