Gadget freaks will love the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 mini video projector, less than 125mm long and weighing under three ounces, and running mains-free from an internal rechargeable battery.
You can use the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 to project still or moving images, either stored on its built-in 1GB memory or from an inserted SD card.
Unfortunately the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 is not really designed to project the display output of a computer or laptop, although you can plug a video iPod in via a 3.5mm AV jack.
The Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 sits on a matching tabletop tripod stand which can be angled as required using a ball-joint clamp - or set to point directly upwards for projecting on the ceiling.
Having such a small projector might seem to defy the laws of physics - why else is every traditional projector more sized like a briefcase, rather than small enough to drop into your shirt pocket? Well, most regular video projectors specify their brightness level in thousands of lumens, and a typical spec might read 2000 lumens. The Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 is listed at 10 lumens.
That's not to say that the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 has all the brightness of a Maglight with dud batteries - there is still a brilliant, white beam issued from its business end. But before we start to get excited about competing with the local multiplex, it's best to get a sense of perspective.
Aiptek claims the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 is bright enough to project an image 42in across, up to 5ft away. While it can just about muster this, we found it worked best over a distance of less than 1m. And you'll also need near-total blackout conditions to see much detail.
Image quality is not helped by the very low 640x480 pixel resolution of the LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) chip. And when viewing video, clarity is also undermined by the heavy-handed compression required of video files. Software is included (ArcSoft Media Converter) to compress video to the required format, but this means a low final datarate, with lots of messy visual artefacts.
Viewing an entire film could be tempting on a camping trip, but bear in mind that the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10‘s battery life is below two hours so you'll probably miss the end.
After a few minutes use, the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 gets very hot at the bright end. There's no cooling fan inside, though, so unlike ‘real' projectors it will remain silent.
You can control some functions from a small, flat remote control, such as advancing frames of a side show; but there's no control over video playback, such as fast forward or rewind.
The menu interface is rather cheap-looking text, further bringing down the user experience. Still picture slideshows fare a little better than video, again providing you keep projection distance down, along with the lights.
While the concept looks good, the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10 fails to impress in action. It can produce a creditable picture of limited size with fairly realistic colours, but only in near-total blackout conditions. At a price of almost £300 it only qualifies as an overpriced executive toy.