A co-worker and I have the Canon vs. Nikon debate all the time. I am the Canon fanboy, and he loves his Nikon. We, however, are talking about digital SLR cameras. When it comes to the more common point-and-shoot units, who cares, right? I sure didn't - until now, that is. Nikon has piqued my interest, and judging by the "sold out" on most Web sites, they have done so for many others, too. I am speaking of their newest innovation, the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj. It's a radically new point-and-shoot with a built-in projector.
Let's start with the basics. First and foremost, this is a point-and-shoot camera. And as such, it's not that impressive. The specs are pretty run of the mill. You get a 12.1 megapixel sensor, 2.7" TFT LCD around back, 5X zoom lens and high-range ISO 6400.
Nikon has also included their exclusive imaging processing, EXPEED, 16 scene modes, movie mode and a host of other features, including best shot selector. For the entire specifications rundown, visit http://imaging.nikon.com.
The Coolpix S1000pj, even in auto mode, will take OK pictures but nothing spectacular. The camera will return decent image results under most conditions, but the lens isn't super sharp and the colors will be less than vibrant. That is not to say that it won't take a good picture, and for a lot of people it will do just fine at capturing their memories.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to the good stuff. This baby has a built-in projector. This is an industry first, and what a first it is! Nikon designed and produced an L-shaped projection module and then found a way to squeeze it into the body of this camera. While it may fatten up the body a little, the extra size is worth it.
The projector will produce an image anywhere from five inches all the way up to 40 inches. The images are reproduced at 640 x 480 VGA resolution. (That's equivalent to a standard definition TV.) You will need a dimly lit room to show off your images, but that is a lot easier to accomplish than having a group crowd around a three-inch screen or trying to hook your camera up to someone's TV at a party. Once the room is dark enough, place the camera on the included stand and use the wireless remote to display your memories on the wall in slideshow format. Be warned, though; the removable, rechargeable battery drains quickly when you're using the projector.
Would I buy this camera? In a single word, yes, but I know I am an early adopter. I don't mind paying a higher price and compromising on some of the specifications to have a show-stopping, awe-inducing device such as this. For most people, though, I would say don't buy this - at least not yet.
This camera is the first of its kind, and it's pretty pricey. For $250, you can get yourself a darn nice point-and-shoot camera. The Coolpix S1000pj runs a hefty $430 at most online retailers, including BestBuy.com. I guess Nikon has to pay Ashton Kutcher for all those ads they keep putting him in.
All jokes aside, I have a feeling this camera will be outdated in a year's time when the competitors bring their own versions to market. Give it another two years, and this may very well be commonplace in the standard point-and-shoot category. By then, the cameras will be better, the projectors will produce bigger and better images, and they will be cheaper. If you can hold out on this one, do so - but if you're like me, you have already placed your order.
I often find myself perusing the USB gadget site http://usb.brando.com. Most of the time, I see junk or gimmicky items. But they do have the occasional gem. I recently came across their USB wireless handheld keyboard/touchpad. This device is sized similar to a BlackBerry and has a thumb keyboard on it. Where the screen would normally be, there's a touch pad similar to the one you would find on your laptop. This device is perfect for using with a home theater PC. If you happen to have, or will soon have, a computer hooked up to a television, this is definitely the way to go. It comes with a USB receiver that plugs into your PC or Mac, and the device communicates via a 2.4GHz radio frequency within a range of 10 meters. It has a built-in rechargeable battery and comes with a USB charging cable. Your color choices are black or white. Should you choose to add one to your set up, it will set you back a mere $60.
Story published Friday, January 8, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 1 )