Global sales of pico projectors are expected to reach about 750,000 this year -- double the sales in 2009.
The figure comes from a survey by US-based analyst firm Pacific Media Associates. Bill Coggshall, analyst at Pacific Media Associates, said: "2010 has seen significant growth and change in this category of front projectors.
"Wide VGA (480p) DLP imager chips and color-sequential LCOS imager chips have led to big improvements in image resolution and quality. Brightness has risen considerably, reaching as high as 50 lumens in some models. Optical engine modules are being embedded in smartphones, digital still cameras, and camcorders from an increasing number of household-name brands."
Coggshall said such developments are spurring year-over-year growth for the pico projector market.
The figures come from the analyst firm's third annual survey of global pico projector vendors, which also looks at desirable features and functionality as well as the potential customer base.
"In 2009, the survey respondents said that the mean size (volume) of a companion model would decline substantially by 2013 to 88cc – the size of iPhones in late 2009. They also expected mean light efficiency to exceed 10 lumens per watt – an important industry milestone – by 2013,” Coggshall said.
The emerging pico category was defined by the firm as all pico and pocket projector models delivering less than 500 lumens.
The pico "companion" segment includes all stand-alone battery-powered models. Its sales grew from about 45,000 units in Q3 2009 to about 100,000 units in Q3 2010, making it the largest segment. Texas Instruments’s DLP technology led in this segment during Q3, with 51 per cent of the units and 53 per cent of the revenue.
"The entire sub-500 lumen category, and particularly the pico companion and toy/gaming segments, is coming of age," said Coggshall.
Several manufacturers recently introduced bright (25-50 lumen) products with SVGA or Wide VGA resolution and good connectivity and battery life. Newer brands made by vendors such as Philips and Toshiba will be shipping in time for the upcoming holiday season, and Acer and Samsung recently started shipping their pico projectors, he added.
"Some of the earliest entrants into the market, such as 3M, Aiptek, and Optoma, are now pushing into related categories. These include products with built-in projectors, such as camcorders (3M and Aiptek), digital cameras (GE and Nikon), and an iPod sound dock (Optoma)," Coggshall said.
Optoma in June announced the PK301, billed as a fully featured, smartphone-size pocket projector for business users.
Richard Stamper, product manager at Optoma, said at the launch: "With impressive resolution and brightness, the PK301 is an essential business tool, handling and projecting highly professional looking PowerPoint slides, photo and video files. After work, you’ll be watching movies at up to 120 inches using the HDMI input or the built in memory."
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