In terms of landmarks, the General Imaging GE PJ1 camera is among the first of a new breed – a camera that also includes a Pico projector. The Taiwanese company made its big announcement with the world's largest photographic expo just about to open its doors. The compact camera shoots stills at 14.1mp resolution, video at 720p and includes a 7x optical zoom (equivalent to 28-196mm, f/3.9-f5.8 in 35mm). It uses Texas Instruments DLP technology to achieve a contrast ratio of 300:1 and a brightness of 15 ANSI lumen.
I'm currently sitting in my hotel a mile or so from the halls of Photokina in Cologne. The event will open tomorrow, and already the first landmark product has been unveiled. Quite obviously, this is the video equivalent of a Polaroid still camera of the seventies – photos and video can be instantly used in a slide or video show for friends and family almost anywhere, without hassle.
Weeeelll, almost without hassle. The specifications show that a fully-charged PJ1 will give you an hour of projection time. While that's a feat of energy efficiency in comparison to stand-alone Pico projectors, it might not be enough to meet the expectations of the average person – most compact cameras need a spare battery if you use them a lot during the day, and it's hard to see enough juice being left in the battery for a home movie night.
Just less than a million Pico projectors will be sold in 2010, with projections anticipating a doubling of the market in 2011. Clearly as the technology matures and gets more competitive price-wise, we're going to see Pico projectors incorporated into many media devices.
General Imaging's new camera might only come in one color (black), but it wants for nothing in the spec department with more than 25 shooting modes, facial recognition, auto exposure adjustment, and smile and blink recognition. The PJ1 also uses SD and SDHC memory cards up to 16 GB.