back to article In the claws of a vulture: Nebra AnyBeam Laser Projector

Those seeking a bit of portable projector fun will shortly have a tiny option in the form of the Nebra AnyBeam, a pocket-sized laser for flinging images onto a handy surface. With its funding campaign complete, The Register took a look at the miniaturised neighbour-annoyer to see if, well, it actually worked. Hardware Four …

  1. ArrZarr Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "...a pure electrostatic biaxial raster scanning mirror."

    Amazing how all of those words actually mean something. Makes me less inclined to snigger at Star Trek's "modulated positronic anti-photon beams" when actual tools exist with similarly word-salady components.

    Nifty widget though.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: "...a pure electrostatic biaxial raster scanning mirror."

      I was going to mention that but only because I was wondering it it would be possible to hack this into some form of Lidar scanner and save about a billion pounds?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: "...a pure electrostatic biaxial raster scanning mirror."

        Yes but a spinning mirror isn't the expensive part of a lidar

        If you only want to scan in a single plane, wheels are really good - and mostly patent free

    2. SVV Silver badge

      Re: "...a pure electrostatic biaxial raster scanning mirror."

      Otherwise you might confuse it with a semi electrostatic biaxial raster scanning mirror, which is the sort of embarassing gaffe that no competent techie would ever want to make.

      1. Scott Broukell
        Coat

        Re: "...a pure electrostatic biaxial raster scanning mirror."

        Isn't that what the plod use for farcical recognition when the the Notting Hill Carnival is on?

  2. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Aye, but where are the sharks?

    I need a watertight one with blue-green laser modules only, please. And a good hydrophone so I can transmit an evil cackle from the shark's freakin' head! Why? Um, reasons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aye, but where are the sharks?

      You SAY that, but there are actual research labs up and down the country building little IMAX cinemas for zebrafish using these kinds of projectors and screens. And running off Raspberry-Pi too!

  3. 0laf Silver badge
    Happy

    No pics of it actually working?

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      A picture could show you that it works but not how well.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ever since laser shows (in the 70s ..)

    I've never understood why someone hasn't developed a proper laser projector ...

    1) We've got RGB lasers now ...

    2) The floating mirror scanning mechanism is surely able to deliver a scanning speed OK for at least SDTV

    3) You could use LCD filters to adjust the brightness

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Ever since laser shows (in the 70s ..)

      They do. They're not brilliant as you get RGB strobing during fast, non-saccade eye movements, but that could be sorted with a little inventiveness in the optics. And you don't need LCD shutters to adjust intensity; lasers can be modulated way faster than liquid crystals - down to femto-seconds. Multiple scan beams is another way to improve resolution, by dividing the screen up into different chunks you aren't creating as much flicker, which the non-peripheral vision is more sensitive to.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Ever since laser shows (in the 70s ..)

      The efficiency of visible color lasers used to be really awful, like 0.05%. Laser light show tubes were enormous, required insane manufacturing precision, and were still only bright enough for simple raster art in a dark room. It took a long time to invent powerful and efficient laser diodes that are either usable RGB colors or have a frequency that can be converted to them.

  5. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    WTF?

    Uhh

    Why would you take a projector camping or hiking?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Uhh

      If you had children who would otherwise spend all their time complaining about how bored they are?

      If you decided to have movie night with your friends, but outside?

      There's two answers I came up with in less time than they took to type, I'm sure if you actually used your brain you'd think of some more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uhh

        "If you had children who would otherwise spend all their time complaining about how bored they are?"

        I was camping a few days ago, with my family. The offspring needed entertaining, so we played frizbee. If I was going to let them vegetate in their sleeping bag with a TV, we might as well have stayed at home. The TV's bigger and better there.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Uhh

          Nah - if you enjoy the outdoors bring em with you. And let them watch the telly - should stop the little fuckers pulling down my guy ropes when their insane parents make them play frisbee!

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Uhh

            If they complain about missing Netflix, teach them lacrosse.

            1. adam 40

              Re: Ouch!

              I found much better entertainment by inserting a 5-inch grasshopper in their sleeping compartment. The screams in the morning were truly edifying.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Ouch!

                Ah, the joys of cricket. The sound of leather on Willow... poor Willow, but she seems to enjoy it.

                1. eldakka Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: Ouch!

                  If Willow didn't enjoy it, you'd soon know when she turned you into a newt as she is, after all, a witch.

                  Although we'd have to see if she floats to confirm that.

              2. David 132 Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Ouch!

                Yes, entertaining kids can be fiendishly expensive, but you seem to have found a lo-cust alternative.

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Uhh

      Many reasons and the main one depends on what you mean by camping and hiking. One of the reasons im seriously thinking about this is training. We do quite a bit of outdoor ed, we already take a laptop with us (a rather aged dell rugged thing that really hasnt died). We teach in a few outdoor places such as Black Sail Hut, Skiddaw House and "somewhere roundabout Caldbeck" depending on the weather and the number of pupils. This sort of projector might work depending on exactly HOW dark it needs to be - students would be making notes but not many. The places we go have no power other than what you bring and thats the beauty.

      As for camping, I personally do two sorts, one to get away from it all and one to get away from the city. The latter sometimes involves electric tent pitch, laptop and such. With a projector we can sit around at night whilst the kids watch netflix (somewhere like ParkFoot in Ullswater has excellent 4G), this is a holiday not a prison camp so we always have a variety of things to do, we also go camping with family so there are lots of age groups adn we tend to keep ourselves away from others so we can sit out late at night without disturbing others.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Uhh

        Waiting for 3D laser projectors so you can watch zombie movies projected into the thin mists you get on the hills in the Lake District...

        Won't somebody think of the other hikers??!!

    3. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Uhh

      Why would you take a projector camping or hiking?

      Because you can and your neighbour, no matter how new their car is won't have one. As well as the fact you need stuff, you know like all the other essentials: V8 diesel generator, UPS units, Satellite uplink, enough solar panels to power a blast furnace, those water pumps with carbon filters that can purify water from a puddle.

    4. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Uhh

      Personally... I'd hook it up to my Canon EOS camera body, which is attached to my telescope.

      Just because you're "camping" doesn't mean you don't need entertainment, can't benefit from technology, and aren't just "on a cheaper kind of holiday".

      I would happily camp with nothing more advanced than a box of matches and a tent. But equally I always take my smartphone, and things get dark much earlier in the middle of nowhere than in your artificially-illuminated home. Snuggle up in a sleeping bag, project a Netflix episode of something on the side of the tent before you go to sleep.

      Camping isn't always minimalistic. In fact, it's infinitely more enjoyable to have at least some tech (e.g. artificial lights, camping stoves, smartphone/GPS with pre-loaded OS maps, etc. etc.)

      1. Tim Jenkins

        Re: Uhh

        "Snuggle up in a sleeping bag, project a Netflix episode of something on the side of the tent before you go to sleep."

        Because camping isn't terrifying enough already? Just what you need to see, glowing in the darkness when you go for a midnight wee...

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    expensive when put up against traditional lamp-based devices.

    I've not been involved with projectors for a few years now, but my abiding memories are the expensive bulbs and their short lives. Are bulbs cheaper and more long lasting now or might the TCO of a more expensive laser based one that doesn't need regular light source replacements be lower in the long run?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: expensive when put up against traditional lamp-based devices.

      Last time I replace a bulb in a projector it was over £20. So the lasers only need to last 11 times as long so about 5 minutes if the table its on is capable of receiving a cup of tea.

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: expensive when put up against traditional lamp-based devices.

      just bought a lamp for an old benq MP620p last week. It cost me just shy of £50. Ive no idea the last time the bulb was changed, many many moons ago thats for sure.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: expensive when put up against traditional lamp-based devices.

        That sounds like a decently long life. What sort of duty cycle does that projector have? The ones I'm thinking of where in education so were often in use many hours per day, 5 days per week.

    3. usbac

      Re: expensive when put up against traditional lamp-based devices.

      We used to use a ceiling mounted projector for our main TV. We went through two different projector brands with mixed success.

      The lamps started to get very dim after about 1 to 1 1/2 years. The OEM lamps were about $290 each, and aftermarket lamps were $170. The aftermarket lamps lasted 1/2 to 2/3 as long as OEM, so not any cheaper in the long run.

      We went to a large LCD TV when the prices came way down. I'm not sure I would ever go back. You need to keep the room dark, no matter how good the projector is. You just don't get good contrast unless the room is completely dark.

      Someone I work with tried one of the new laser projectors for their church, and found that the brightness was not good enough, and exchanged it for one with a regular lamp. I helped him choose the projector, and based on my experience with lamps, suggested he try the laser one. We both really wanted the laser projector to work, but it just didn't have the brightness.

      I've seen some YouTube videos where people have hacked projectors and replaced the mercury lamps with LED modules. They seem to have good success. One person put in a 100W LED module, and it was significantly brighter than with the original lamp. It makes you wonder why projector manufacturers aren't doing the same?

      1. Pascal

        Re: expensive when put up against traditional lamp-based devices.

        > It makes you wonder why projector manufacturers aren't doing the same?

        To quote yourself, "because the $290 lamp gets very dim after about 1.5 years".

        To us it's common sense, to them it's "replacing a perfectly good source of steady income with an option that's both cheaper and long-lasting", a lose-lose.

  7. Daedalus Silver badge

    Nice one, Reg

    a 150-inch image is possible with the projector set around five metres back

    Brexit satire?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice one, Reg

      My local DIY store here in France sells melamine-coated shelving in 20cm, 30cm, 40cm and 50cm widths. All in 183cm lengths (which is 6ft). And let's not go into car tyres labelled like 225/55R17...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice one, Reg

      Yes, mixing units does nobody any favours and when you see it in sales hype it smells of something to hide.

      What the marketroids meant to put on the spec sheet was that from 5 m away you can project a 3.8 m (diagonal, I assume?) image.

      That actually would make for quite impressive viewing in an average sized living room.

  8. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Want an outdoor kids' activity?

    Get two small hobby motors, some plastic mirror you can cut into small circles to mount on the motor shafts, and a decent laser modules. Let each mirror bend the beam path through 90 deg, run up your motors and watch the lissajous diagrams form on whatever you point the rig at.

    Bonus points for operation in smoke or fog.

    Lose points for lasing aircraft.

    It's a great kiddo project; definitely a weapon of mass distraction

  9. caffeine addict Silver badge

    I didn't need to know about laser projectors.

    I've long pondered getting a projector to shine a aurora type image on the bedroom ceiling, but the lack of contrast and true black always stopped me. This makes it plausible again.

  10. Carl W

    Good price

    Paid about the same for a portable LED 720p projector last year, with no frickin' laser beams. Runs Android so has Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. as apps.

  11. RLWatkins

    Mom...! Mom, 2009 is on the phone!

    We're talking about tiny video projectors, are we? Small ones, that one can hold in one hand? That accept digital video input, or video via USB?

    You know, I have one of those. It's quite handy, works pretty damn' well. Uses LEDs to form an image. Bright, crispy. I bought it TEN YEARS AGO.

    [sigh]

    1. max allan

      Re: Mom...! Mom, 2009 is on the phone!

      Really, you have a focus free projector from 10 years ago that does 720pnative res and get 150 lumens? I just had a quick look on Amazon at pocket projectors and the first one I found is "1080p" with a native res of only 854x480 at 100 lumens and still needs focus. And costs £200. The next one claims 3500 lumens till you look at the proper specs then it says 150 ansi lumens.

      And they both have contrast ratios of only 1000:1. Not like this with 80000:1. Neither mention keystone adjustment either.

      And that's for £200 projectors today. Not 10 years ago.

      So, if you want to sigh about higher res, better contrast&brightness and the focus free technology, because you have something similar but much less good, you must spend a lot of your life sighing. It'd probably be good for your mental wellbeing to be more excited by advances in technology and appreciative of performance increases.

  12. A-nonCoward

    no focus? tent planetarium!

    might need a spherical mirror, but that's about it

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