(PhysOrg.com) -- Cell phones are great, but one of their limitations is the size of the screen, which of necessity has to be small. To get around this problem, engineers have been for years toying with the idea of building a projector into the phone so that images can be displayed on any nearby flat surface. Unfortunately, until now, such phones proved too bulky for users to accept. Now, however, Samsung appears to have jumped that hurdle as it announces the Galaxy Beam, a new, small, thin and lightweight phone that has a projector built into it that allows users to project whatever is on the screen onto any nearby surface.
When looking down holding the phone in the palm of the hand, the projected image is shot out of the lens onto a nearby wall (sort of like holding a flashlight). If the phone is held upright, the image is projected onto the ceiling. It’s the first mainstream phone to offer everyday customers in-phone projection.
Most who have seen a demo of the Beam at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona agree that it’s a game changer. Not only is the phone able to project stuff onto walls but the stuff it projects is bright (15 lumens) clear and sharp. And it’s just 12.5mm thick, which is of course slightly more than some of its non-projector competitors, but well within comfort range.
Oddly, the phone demoed was running Google Android 2.3 rather than Ice Cream Sandwich, on a 1GHz dual-core processor; something that will likely change once the phone is officially released. It also has 8GB of internal memory, a 5MP camera and a 2000mAh battery to keep the phone running despite the extra demands of the projector.
Company reps at the demo said the projector could be used to share images or video with others that are nearby and could even be used to play video games. In the demo, images projected on a screen were up to 50 inches, which is certainly big enough to watch movies or give slide shows. It’s also pretty easy to imagine users conversing via Skype, or cruising the Internet while in bed with web pages displayed on the ceiling.
Samsung did not announce pricing nor an availability date for the Beam, but expectations are that it will land in stores sometime in the second quarter of this year.
Explore further: Gift Guide: Accessories to satisfy inner Spielberg