Talk about instant gratification: The ViewSonic DVP5 Pocket Camcorder Projector not only lets you take photos and videos, but also lets you watch them on a bigger canvas moments after you record them. While this $329 device may not be the best-performing pico projector or digital camera, it's neat to see these two functions combined into one.
Not too surprisingly, the DVP5 is about the size of a pico projector. At 5.3 x 2.4 x 0.8 inches, it's roughly the same dimensions as the 3M MPro150, and it weighs a light 6.7 ounces. However, 3M's device looks a good deal sleeker. The DV5P's burgundy top and grooved squared-off sides make it look a little clunky and dated.
The top of the DVP5 has a 2.3-inch screen that's got a very low resolution of 480 x 234; even though you can take 8-megapixel photos with its camera, you won't want to look at them on the device itself. Below the display are backlit touch controls (more on that later).
The right side of the DVP5 has a focusing dial, power switch, and a plastic cover that protects the microSD card slot (the device can read cards up to 32GB). The left has a 3.5-mm AV port, and a mini USB and mini HDMI port also protected by a plastic cover. The bottom has a speaker grille, tripod mount, and the camera, which is bordered in silver plastic.
ViewSonic includes a remote control, USB, and a 3.5-mm-to-composite cable. Unfortunately, there's no HDMI cable.
The touch controls on the top of the DVP5 are pretty intuitive. There is a button for taking still photos, one for filming videos, and one for using the projector. Below these controls are buttons for navigating the simple menus. The wide variety of options include adjusting the keypad sensitivity and changing the flicker rate from 50 to 60 MHz. The UI is not as slick as that on the Samsung SP-H03, but it gets the job done.
When using the camera to take photos or videos, the menu appears on the device's display; when using the projector, the menu is projected onto a wall. You can adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation of videos (within a limited range), too.
The DVP5 can shoot videos up to 720p (at 30 frames per second), and photos up to 8-megapixel in resolution. In order to do so, you need to hold the device as you would a Flip Cam.
High-def videos captured indoors looked a little fuzzy; colors weren't the best, and there was a good deal of jerkiness when we moved the camera around while recording. Outdoors, colors were better, but the camera still had some trouble with moving subjects. The same goes for still shots: While detailed and colorful, the camera had trouble freezing motion and focusing on the main subject. The camera lacks a flash, but you can turn on an LED light that helps somewhat.
Ironically, the projector has a native resolution of 640 x 480, so if you want the full benefit of your recorded movies, you'll have to use the HDMI output. The DVP5's rated brightness of 15 lumens is on the low side (the Optoma PK301, at 50 lumens, is much brighter), but it gets the job done. As with all pico projectors, we found that optimal viewing conditions mean that the projector should be used in a dark room. ViewSonic says images look good up to 65 inches, which they did. At that size, the projector needs to be about 7 feet from the wall or screen. In a completely dark room, we found that, even at 10 feet (which produced an 8-foot image), video was passable, if a bit washed out.
Audio Quality and Battery Life
Despite a small speaker on the bottom, the DVP5 was loud for its size, and while not exactly a home stereo, was at least as good as what we've heard from some netbooks.
ViewSonic says that the DVP5's battery is good for 2 hours of recording or 2 hours of projecting, and we found that it lasted almost exactly that amount of time.
The DVP5 comes with a three-year warranty.
With smart phones taking on the roles of GPS and point-and-shoot cameras, convergence is definitely the watchword among consumer devices, so why not combine a video camera and projector into one? At $329, the ViewSonic DVP5 costs slightly less than many other pico projectors, and adds the ability to take photos and videos as well. The image quality could be better, but this multitasking gadget certainly makes it easy to share what you've captured.