Touchjet first showed off a concept version of its phablet-sized Touchpico projector at CES 2014. Now, the Android-powered Wi-Fi device is nearly ready for production. We got to play with a preproduction model at Gizmodo's office, ahead of the launch of TouchPico's crowdfunding campaign.
TouchPico shown sitting on an Apple TV remote
The TouchPico is about the size of two large phablets stacked on top of each other. It's pocketable in the sense that a flask is pocket-sized; it will fit, but you won't forget it's there. And it won't actually turn your wall into a touchscreen. That's the bad news.
What it does instead is project up to an 80-inch screen on whatever wall you point it at. An included stylus with a clicky tip serves as your touch-device: tap it against the wall you're projecting on, and it sends an infrared signal to the projector registering your click. Try clicking with your finger, and the projector will do nothing but wait for you to quit messing around.
In a demo at Gizmodo's office in NYC, Touchjet's Slava Solonitsyn used the TouchPico with a bunch of different Android apps, showing how the mini projector can be used as a whiteboard, a slide stack presentation device, or a big screen for fruit ninja-ing. In every demo, the TouchPico responded to clicks and stylus movement without perceptible lag, though you do have to hold the stylus in such a way that the shadow from your arm won't cover the object you're trying to click.
The little gadget packs a dual-core brain running stock Android — it's basically a Wi-Fi-only tablet, with a 150-lumen projector instead of a touchscreen, which will happily run stock Android apps without fuss. The touch sensor doesn't use any CPU power; rather, it emulates the screen on the fly. That means, for now at least, it can't do multi-touch. It's got two built-in speakers and a cooling fan that makes about as much noise as the one in your laptop. Slava says it will last 45 minutes on battery before it needs plugging in.
All the engineering and designing has been done, but Touchjet is turning to Indiegogo to raise money for the first batch of products. Backers will get the TouchPico projector for $US350, with regular retail price set at $US500 once the campaign is over. That's steep, but until someone comes out with an 80-inch Android device you can carry in your pocket, then hang on a wall, it's probably the best you're gonna do.