Tech

Tablets Find Their Inner Projector

The latest handheld devices come with their own built-in projectors, giving everything you want to watch big-picture potential.

One Helluva Stud: Lights off or on, the SmartQ U7 tablet casts an extraordinarily clear image, like the one above from Midnight Cowboy.

Your smartphone has already made your camera, radio, clock, and flashlight redundant. Now it's gunning for your television, as the newest gadgets are starting to house tiny projectors inside. That viral kitten-snuggling-with-a-wild-animal YouTube hit? Instead of corralling everyone around a minuscule screen, you'll beam it onto the wall. What's known as digital light processing has long been used in high-end TVs and home projectors to yield brighter, more colorful images; now it's small enough to fit in your phone, essentially transforming it into a portable theater.

Take the new Ayane smartphone—it has a four-inch screen that can expand to 42 inches when projected against a wall. Or the 35-lumen DLP projector that's built into the SmartQ U7 tablet (a dead ringer for the Google Nexus 7) and can broadcast an image up to 50 inches wide. The heavyweights are starting to get involved too. Samsung has plans to offer improved projector functionality in a forthcoming smartphone, while Apple has been snapping up patents for a scaled-down version suitable for laptops, phones, and tablets. Pretty soon you'll be streaming Game of Thrones episodes on any nearby surface—giving all that medieval-inspired drama a more futuristic setting.

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The Next Big Thing: Short-Throw Projectors

Forget hauling a projector to the back of the room. These cutting-edge models can sit inches from the wall, making them perfect for tight spaces.

short-throw-projectors-embed.jpg

From top to bottom: Philips, Sony, LG.

Philips Screeneo
It boasts an impressive 100-inch high-def picture, and the built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allow you to stream from the Internet. But the real draw is the speakers and subwoofer, which may make you question whether you'll ever hit a movie theater again. $1,800; philips.com

Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw
Coming this summer: the only short-throw projector capable of offering images in Ultra HD 4K—double the resolution of your average plasma-screen HDTV—up to 147 inches wide, all housed in a minimalist media console. Starting at $30,000; sony.com

LG Cinema Beam Hecto2
The old version required two feet of distance to produce a 100-inch image; the forthcoming model will do it from just six inches away. It also features a laser system (rather than stodgy lamps) for your high-def-viewing pleasure. Price on request; lg.com

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Also on Details.com:
Top 5 Tech Trends to Watch From CES 2014
Screen Gems: 5 Highly Intelligent and Customizable TVs That Will Change Your Viewing Habits
No More Rectangles: 5 New Portable Bluetooth Speakers (That Aren't Bose or JamBox)

Photograph by Victor Prado. Prop Styling by Philip Shubin. Photographs of short-throw projectors: courtesy of each supplier.
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