The GE PJ1 is a digital camera with a built-in pico projector - but there are issues with both components.
The GE PJ1 serves as both a digital camera and a projector. It can be used to project just-taken pictures or it can be used in conjunction with the supplied cables and software to project the contents of a computer screen. The problem is that it can't perform any function very well.
The PJ1 isn't the best thought-out product we've ever seen. It wants to be something fun and quirky, while at the same time trying to cater to business users who might want to use it as a tool for presentations. However, it's a product that doesn't really accomplish any of those goals. Its pico projector is not of high enough quality to be used as a business tool; it's barely passable for viewing photos. The only thing that the PJ1 has going for it is a little bit of a 'wow' factor.
The camera in the PJ1 isn't great either. It has a 14-megapixel sensor, a 7x zoom lens with a 28-196mm range, and it has a built-in flash and basic controls. It's easy to operate, but because it only has very limited manual controls, you have to rely on the camera to get the exposure right every time, and it doesn't.
GE PJ1: Performance
Pictures taken in bright environments look pale and muddy and highlights are often over-exposed. In dark environments, images will be noisy and lack adequate contrast. Chromatic aberration is also cause for concern when shooting outdoors.
Basically, the PJ1 as a camera is barely any better than a typical smartphone camera. Taking this camera to the park to photograph your dog or ducks swimming in a pond is perhaps not a great idea as you'll probably end up with lots of poorly defined and over-exposed shots. Its pictures are only just passable for use on social networking sites where they will be displayed at a much smaller size than their native 14 megapixels. If you look at the photos at a larger size on a high-definition screen, then all the problems with the quality will be immediately noticeable.
Despite shooting on a bright and sunny day, this was one of many images to come out pale and messy
This photo is one of the better ones to come out of the PJ1, but it still has lots of chromatic aberration in the tree branches. It's noticeable in the middle and at the right of the image
Shooting on an overcast day captured a white, overexposed sky, rather than the grey sky it should have been
Poor quality aside, the PJ1 is easy to operate. You don't have to do much other than change shooting mode, choose whether you want to use the flash and play with the zoom. There are scene modes that you can switch to, but there is also an automatic scene mode that selects the scene for you. It's a reasonably comfortable camera to use, but its buttons feel cheap. The camera lacks a lens cover, which leaves the plastic in front of the lens prone to getting dirty; you have to remember to check it prior to using the camera, just in case it has been accidentally smudged in your carry bag.
Because the projector sits in the centre of the camera, the lens resides at the top-left corner position (from the way you hold the camera) which means that it's too easy for your fingers to obstruct the lens while taking photos. The projector lens is attached to a slider that sits at the top of the camera and this can be used to adjust its focus.
To use the PJ1 as a projector for displaying your photos, you simply press the projector button next that sits next to the shutter button. It's not of great quality, and we didn't expect it to be, but it wasn't as good as the projector in Nikon's S1100pj. With a 15 ANSI Lumens brightness rating, it's not a very bright projector, which means that to get the best results you have to project in an almost pitch-black room and from a close wall distance. It can project an image that is 120x90mm from 2.3m away and an image of 44x33cm from 90cm away. The closer distance gives you better detail, but that's not saying much because the projector's clarity is poor overall.
A dock ships with the camera and this can be used as a cooler while projecting for long periods of time. It has a built-in fan, which makes a sharp whirring sound while it's operating. A mess of cables is supplied for charging the camera and also for connecting it to the dock and to a computer. You don't get a separate charger for the battery, so you have to always use the supplied cables to connect the camera and charge it. It's a great solution if you like solving puzzles.
The PJ1's ability to project an entire computer screen is perhaps its best trait. You have to connect the camera to your computer using the supplied USB cable, and you have to install the supplied PC to Link software and click 'Start Capture'. The projector will then display the contents of your screen exactly as they appear on your monitor, except with much less clarity.
Whether you project from a short distance or a long distance; whether you use the lowest supported resolution of your computer or not, text will not be easily legible and photos, graphs and charts will not look properly defined. The other problem is that the USB cable that is supplied with the camera is too short to allow for comfortable usage - you have to sit your laptop in front of the wall that you will be projecting on to. If you want a portable projector for business use, then consider a product such as the HP Notebook Projection Companion or Acer Projector C20 instead.