Filed under: Computer Accessories, Gadgets, Home Theater
There’s nothing like a projected image to make you feel like you’re at the movies. When I was a kid, it was always a thrill to see the media center lady roll a projector into the classroom after we got in from recess, because it meant we were taking a break from the drudgery of Science and Social Studies, and getting to slack off with a few action-packed educational film strips instead. And then there was that time about 10 years back when, despite my being a mature grownup, I jumped right in when my Dad hauled out his work projector (typically reserved for presentations) to entertain my sick, stuck-at-home little brother – let me tell you, the best way to watch Ice Age is on the living room wall.
But those childhood (and kid-at-heart) warm-fuzzies toward projectors in general began to change as I left college and became immersed in things like real-world jobs and the multimedia business presentations that they often require. I’ve sat in more than one crowded conference room, looking on as guest presenters fumbled with laptop-to-projector connections as the hour of meeting commencement, pointing and laughing in derision, jogged right past them. Yikes. And these were intelligent, capable people. But technical difficulties will happen, especially if you’re an outsider dealing with other peoples’ electronics. It’s painful to watch.
That’s why I think that the X20 Digital Projector by 3Mlooks so incredibly useful and promising. What better way to avoid technical difficulties than to bring your own projector along? I know, I know – it sounds like a schlepping nightmare, but it’s not at all. To start out with, the X20 is little: only 11 by 8 by 2 inches (approximately). And at around 4 pounds, it’s definitely one of the lighter projectors out there. Did I mention that it comes with a carrying case? That makes it a natural for travel. But what I really like is that it can help cut down on how many other things you have to haul around.
While the X20 and it’s cousin, the WX20, both offer (of course) connections for laptops and other devices, the X20 also has USB ports for a mouse and flash drive – perfect for computerless .jpg presentations. And you know what that means, right? Leave the laptop at home!
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.
I must be feeling extra into movies this week, because they just keep popping up as a blog topic. Yesterday it was a product that’s used in movie production, but today I have something even more fun for you: a gadget that lets you view movies or photos on demand, and is tiny enough to fit in your pocket. And no, it’s not an iPod. Even though Apple has pretty much cornered the market on pint-sized pieces of electronic awesomeness, today I have to give props to 3M.
Have you seen their MPro Pocket Projector? This is the best mini thing to come out since, oh, I don’t know, Munchkins (to specify, I mean the donut kind, not the Lollipop Guild… although, they’re not bad either). But I digress. Suffice it to say that this thing is great. How cool must it be to carry around PowerPoint presentations, movies, and photo slideshows right in your shirt pocket? And they’re projectable! We’re talking freedom from squinting at 2-inch screens! You can turn any flat surface out there into a screen, and view pictures that range anywhere from 8 to 50 inches in size.
I don’t know about you, but I think that aside from all the perks it has for traveling businesspeople and on-the-road presenters, the Pocket Projector could very well revolutionize the way we wait in line at tedious places like Orlando theme parks and the DMV. Just be sure to get in line behind a laid-back, obliging type who doesn’t mind serving as a human movie screen (word to the wise: you probably shouldn’t attempt this in New York or similar).
But back to business. I think that you’ve caught my drift in the “this is super cool!” department, but let me quickly outline a few of the technical specs that may be of interest. You’re probably wondering if the projector provides sound, and the answer is yes – it’s fully equipped to output audio without extra speakers. The MPro is designed to play nicely with Windows-based sofware like MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as well as Adobe. You also have a choice of models: the MP120 works in conjuction with computers, cameras and smartphones, and the MP150, which has its own internal memory for storing and accessing files independently, without help from other devices.
Sorry, the MPro 120 has been discontinued. But good news: the MPro 150 is still available, so take a look!
You’ve heard of firestopping caulk and foam, but… pillows? Yes, you read that correctly. Pillows. Namely 3M™ Fire Barrier Pillows, little bundles of intumescent material that can be used to fill in and firestop larger wall penetrations, like the ones you get when you run exceptionally large cable trays from one room to the next. These are what you turn to when gaps are so big that soft materials like foam and caulk just don’t have the structural integrity to do the job – as a matter of fact, they’re UL listed to firestop openings up to 540 square inches.
Installing 3M™ Fire Barrier Pillows is a no-mess project – just fit enough into the gap to completely close it , and you’re done. Unless gaps that are too small to be filled by the smallest size pillow remain, there’s no need for caulk, putty, or other conformable firestop products. Fire Barrier pillows have a 3-hour flame rating, and they’re super easy to replace after a fire – there’s no need to scrape charred material out if the penetration gap. Just pull out the spent pillows and pop in new ones whenever you need to.