Nikon's just pulled the official wrapper off its S1000pj Coolpix digital camera, and it's a real mutant hybrid: A standard point-and-shooter, but with a picoprojector riding shotgun. Is this device convergence gone mad?
The S1000pj's a $430 12.1-megapixel machine, with 5x wide-angel zoom, ISO range from 64 to 6400, a 5-way image stabilization system, subject tracking mode, auto scene selection and Nikon's smart portrait system. Basically, it's one of the current crop of point-and-shoot cameras that basically does everything for you except depress the shutter button at the right moment—all of its tech is to make taking a snap simpler.
So the thing that really sets it apart from the whole crop of similar cams is the projector. Nikon's curiously shy about technical specs for this bit—we don't know how bright it is, or who makes the unit—but it'll apparently project pictures or movies onto a flat surface up to 40-inches in size, and comes with a built-in projector stand. Nikon's calling it the World's first camera with a built-in projector.
And, for what it is, it's a perfect convergence design. People who buy a point and shoot compact camera aren't generally in the game of taking art shots—the device is to capture the moment your kid first takes a tottering step, or to snap your partner in front of the sunset on your favorite holiday beach. And if you watch people taking snaps like this, the very first thing they do is check the back of the cam to see what the pic looks like (which is why the S1000pj has a 2.7-inch LCD). Then later they'll use the display to show someone what the photo looks like. Nikon's obviously had analysts out in the field exploring how people use their cameras, and then came up with the plan to maximize this mode of digicam use with a built-in projector. It's handy for that, and, heck, you could probably even use it to project a movie on the seat-back while you're taking the flight home from your holidays—that's the joy of picoprojectors.
Expect to see other digital cameras with projectors built-in soon, but not for long—there's only a smallish window in time before design convergence creates the smartphone/camera/projector hybrid.