Have you even been in a situation when explaining something via text or screenshots just won't cut it? How about wanting to show a particular Mobile application to a large group of people? Until recently, projecting the image on your mobile phone/PDA/other handheld device was not an easy process. It inevitably involved some type of finicky setup, and unless you knew what you were doing, results would be average at best. This situation has now changed with the release of the new hi-resolution ICD-5000 Project-a-Phone hardware from Project-a-Phone, Inc. How does the ICD-5000 handle the rigors of corporate use? Does it perform as advertised? Read on as we review this device.
The device is shipped in a sturdy transit case which can be used to protect the device when not in use. Once setup is complete, it's all plug and play. video/audio can be adjusted, allowing for full customization. The device is held securely in place, and thanks to the fully adjustable clamps, a large number of device sizes and shapes can be accommodated. Some other basics specs:
- 5.17 megapixel (2952×1944 image array) sensor
- 3.15 megapixel screen captures
- 30 frames per second at VGA resolution
In a nutshell, the way this device works is as follows: Drivers are installed on a designated Windows PC. The projector is plugged in via USB, and the user launches the software. The user then has the ability to capture moving or still images from the handheld device via the PC software, after adjusting image clarity and quality, focusing the lens, digitally zooming, etc. The user can then choose to connect his computer to a digital projector for viewing in a large room, or use the monitor for demonstrations.
As mentioned, setup involves installing the included drivers. This must occur before plugging in the device. Any hiccups on setup, however, can generally be solved by visiting the Project-a-Phone FAQ page. I installed the software on two platforms, laptop and desktop. I followed the included instructions on the laptop installation and it was very linear, no issues encountered. As an experiment, during the desktop install, I ran through the installation quickly; hitting "yes" to most prompts. After this install, the camera could not be found. A quick check on the driver properties indicated a "code 10 error". Not entirely surprised, and aware that this was from my deliberately erroneous install, I then began to work through the fix as detailed on the FAQ page. I found this particular fix extremely detailed, and very informative. I was up and running again in no time.
The primary use of this device is to project either a moving or still image from a handheld device. Physical applications are only limited by the user's imagination, however, some ideas suggested by Project-a-Phone, Inc include:
Screenshots for marketing materials or documentation
- Sales calls that require high-res images
- Trade-shows, exhibitions, other events which require large screen viewing
- Court room environment (forensics)
The imaging software allows a user to adjust a slew of parameters. Here are the main ones:
Color: Contrast, Brightness, Hue, Saturation
- Light: Gamma, Backlight Compensation, Sharpness
- Digital Zoom
- Screen resolution (240×320, 480×640, 600×800)
- Capture settings including Frame Rate
- Compression (Audio and Video)
The ICD-5000 hardware allows a user to make the following physical adjustments:
- Focus: via rotation of the lens
- Image size: by moving the lens housing in or out
- Image location: by moving the location of the device (up/down/laterally)
The ICD-5000 ships in a solid plastic protective case; perfect for transit and storage.
Inside the case we have the ICD-5000, spare lens, USB cable, drivers, and support literature.
The ICD-5000 comfortably and securely holds regular sized PPC Phone/devices.
Portable music players can also be projected, once again, grip is firm and secure.
Here's the ICD-5000 with the Excalibur (from another angle).
How did the device perform when put to actual use? White backgrounds rendered well, however, high color/lots of detail saw the ICD-5000 making corrections and adjustments as it recorded. Obviously if you are just displaying a plain white background and spend longer tweaking the settings, a clean visual can be obtained. My testing environment emulated a typical busy scenario: I set the device up, made slight adjustments, and began taping; tantamount to what would happen in the real world.
Here's a brief video of the ICD-5000 in use from the Project-a-Phone website.
And here's a picture that I took of my monitor while using my T-Mobile Dash using the Project-a-Phone software.
Functionally, the ICD-5000 does capture and represent the image of a device on a designated computer. Although the images are not perfect, it does work. If you are after a quick fix for demonstrating mobile applications, then it will do the job fine. If you have time to prepare before you demonstrate your capture, I would highly recommend taking the time to tweak the settings, including the focus. A few minutes can make a big difference to image/video quality.
This item carries a 1-year warranty, and support pages are available if required. 30 day return policy is also available, as with an extensive FAQs section. Phone and email support can also be reached via the support page.
Works with just about any handheld device. Additional information regarding usage tips for specific devices can be found on the Project-a-Phone site. USB 2.0 and Windows PC required.
BUGS AND WISHES
Other than the price, the device is a great little addition to any road warrior's gear bag. It does what it says it will, and can be fully customized. Unfortunately (for now) Macs are out, this software is Windows PC only. The only other issue, it has quite a few clamps/hinges/rails. While these all help when folding the device for storage, my only concern is this: the more moving parts a device has, greater are the odds that something could break. Fortunately, during my field tests nothing did break, and to the credit of Project-a-Phone, Inc, the hinges/clamps are quite sturdy. This is just something to bear in mind though if you are rough with your gear.
The ICD-5000 can be purchased directly from Project-a-Phone, Inc for USD$395.00. The older lower-res ICD-300 can be purchased for USD$225.00. Existing owners of the ICD-300 can upgrade to the newer version for USD$199.00.
- Device independent
- Simple to use
- Performs as advertised
- Windows PC only
- Lots of moving parts
- Could be considered expensive
This device has a place in the mobile market, and it does perform as advertised. The sales rep/exhibitor who needs a quick solution to project the screen of a mobile device will get great use out of this item. Whether you require the higher resolution ICD-5000, or are happy to settle with the lower-res ICD-300 depends on what it is you are projecting, and how picky you are about clarity. One of the best uses for this item could be with demonstrating or stepping a user through an application for training purposes, short clips could me made and distributed in-lieu of documentation containing screenshots. With the wide availability of free streaming media, devices such as this have a bright future.