Free yourself from the front of the classroom. These pocket projectors let you set up class in a corridor, the canteen, or even in the playground.
Portable devices are more popular than ever in schools, but one thing which still ties the teacher to the front of the classroom is the projector. If only there were a way to cut this final tether!
Pico, and other manufacturers, are now pushing their tiny portable projectors into the education market. These tiny pocket-sized projectors allow you to free yourself from the shackles of the static projector and take a class anywhere you choose.
Pico projectors have been available for a while, but it wasn’t until recently I saw one in action that it really set the cogs whirring. These things are tiny, robust, and really simple to use. I was most taken with the Pico Genie P50 (seen above), which retails at under £200 (but can easily be picked up for less from educational resellers) and is a great little device to quickly plug in an iPad to display content anywhere. It’s also battery powered, so you don’t even need an electrical socket and takes input from any modern laptop, tablet, or phone.
But the photos don’t give a very good idea of scale, the Pico Genie P50 (above) is literally the size of a pack of cards — that old sizing standard. That’s a USB flash drive sticking out of the back. The larger unit (shown below) is the Vivitek Qumi Q2, which is around the size of a paperback book — still small but less pocketable.
All projectors of this size contain LED “bulbs” which means they last significantly longer than a standard projector and can take a few bumps and knocks when being transported. You can just throw this projector in your pocket without worrying about it being damaged.
The projectors take input from any device that outputs HDMI or VGA, and can also read common files (PDF, PowerPoint, Word etc.) directly from a USB flash drive. Some of the more expensive models also allow you to wirelessly display content from your tablet, just like an Apple TV. Certain models also have the ability to be powered by battery removing the need for any wires at all. One teacher I spoke to uses her Pico Genie P50 to set up impromptu classes in corridors with just her iPad.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to replace your static classroom projector with one of this size. Unless you get into the higher price bracket (£600+) you can only expect an output of around 100 lumens, but as long as you’re not in direct sunlight you should be fine. The demonstration of the Pico P50 I saw was under strong fluorescent lighting and the image was perfectly viewable. As long as the lighting conditions are right you can project onto any plain surface — the floor, the ceiling, a or a door.
Are you using a portable projector in your school? Let us know your experiences in the comments.