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25 Days of Gadgets - Day 11

December 11, 2008 - Dave Hecei
Remember the days when dad, or maybe granddad, would rummage in the closet and out would come a slide projector and stack of round trays full of slides. There you were sitting in the dark looking at past holidays and vacations. Now that we are in the digital era, nobody shoots slides anymore, let alone look at them. For those who want that same experience with their digital images, there is the digital video projector.

Not too long ago, digital video projectors were in the $2000-3000 range. This put it entirely out of the reach of most home computer user. Just like computers, video projectors have gotten better, smaller, and a lot less expensive. Quality video projectors are well under $1000 now and have shrunk to fit in the palm of your hand.

One such mini projector is the new Dell M109S, and it is truly amazing. Weighing less than one pound, this tiny video projector uses LEDs as the light source and DLP technology to project the image. Using LEDs instead of a lamp means less heat and will probably never need replacing. The DLP technology means a sharp and colorful image.

While the M109S is ideal for slide shows, photos or PowerPoint, it also does a pretty good job with video. The DLP chip is fast enough that there is little color fringing or bleeding during fast movements. The LEDs are bright enough to project a 50-inch diagonal image in a darkened room or a 30 to 40-inch image in a dim room.

On the back of the M109S is a connection for power and video input. You can connect a standard RCA composite video source here, like a VCR, DVD, camcorder, or a cable/satellite box for watching television. There is also a 15-pin VGA video port for your computer (laptop or desktop). The native output is 858 by 600 pixels, more than enough for standard television output.

While the Dell M109S will not turn your living room into a home theatre, this tiny projector is great for that occasional "big screen" video game, movie, or home video/slide show presentation. I suppose you could even use it for work. Since it can fit in the palm of your hand, you can take it practically anywhere. Along with the small size, the M109S has a small price tag, under $500.


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