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Old 01-09-2007, 02:33 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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DLP Projectors: TVs, palm sized, and now for cell phones!

For a while now, we've been covering the possibility of a tiny little projector in a cell phone or PDA. It's an enticing idea -- to be able to project a full sized screen from a cell phone with efficient lasers that won't drain the battery too quickly. Just imagine carrying around the equivalent of a full-sized VGA monitor.

The technology is getting close. We have the advantages of competing technologies, so the race is on. The latest announcement comes from this year's CES in Vegas. Have you seen all those TI advertisements on television for DLP projection TVs? Well, TI has shrunk the DLP processing chip to the point that they have a "prototype digital projector, based on its digital light processors (DLPs) ... could fit on a cell phone.

The projector contains three lasers, a DLP chip, and a power supply and measures about 1.5 inches in length." Put it together with a cell phone and you have DVD quality video. "You could actually drive a large-screen TV" with the processor in a high-end cell phone, said TI Chief Executive Rich Templeton. Unfortunately, they still have to figure out how to successfully make it into a commercial product.

Over the last couple of decades, TI has been reinventing itself from calculators and computers to a new life with dedicated signal processing chips, just as predicted by a TI insider who shared the plan with me in the early 80's. Most people don't realize it, but as of last year "TI has played a major role in the cell phone revolution: the company's digital signal processors run about half the world's cell phones."

Previous improvements in the small display units include last year's demonstration of a Mitsubishi palm sized DLP unit, but it only had SVGA resolution and it was based on LEDs rather than lasers. Quite a fast leap forward in one year, and we can only hope that the progress continues as such a rapid pace.
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