Picopros Gets an Exclusive Look at The NionCom Android Mini-Tablet
By pmarganski on Monday, Jul/11/2011
At, we have the opportunity to review many great products. Recently, we had the unique privilege of spending some time with the Android-based mini-tablet reference design from NionCom™. In fact, the unit we received is a final engineering version of the device and has all the features and connectivity of the original, including the embedded laser projector. The NionCom™ mini-tablet has some unique software, such as - the application that enables a dramatic way to display and interact with your photos and presentations. This mini-tablet shares the vast majority of its DNA with the Vision™ mini-tablet by NionCom™ - the device that in January. Other than screen size and memory storage, these mini-tablets are virtually identical. The Vision™ mini-tablet will launch during the second half of this year. Through our conversations with of NionCom™ regarding both of these mini-tablets, Mr. Seo stated that while the smaller device with flash memory is fully-developed, NionCom™ is currently finalizing the optimal component configuration with the introduction of the embedded hard disk drive (HDD) for the Vision™. Since these mini-tablets are pretty much identical, we were given exclusive access to use the mini-tablet with internal flash memory for the purposes of demonstrating the capabilities and functionality of both devices. NionCom™ really shifted the paradigm when it comes to displaying and sharing mobile content. In this article, we review various features and applications of the reference design with the understanding that everything shown here is a feature of the Vision™ mini-tablet as well. We included some videos of the device in use, as well as a and ImageAMMO™ with various photos of the device.
In a world filled with devices that have tiny screens, sharing content is a frustrating experience. We’ve all huddled around a friend’s phone to watch a video or look at photos – it’s painful. Screens on these devices have indeed grown, but even tablets such as the Apple iPad don’t allow for a true “big screen” experience. If you want to share a YouTube video with some friends, you are stuck with watching it on the device's small screen. Not so with the Android-based mini-tablets by NionCom™. These devices were designed to provide the ultimate user experience, with the capability to share that experience with many. Instead of passing around your device, simply use the embedded pico projector to create an instant cinematic experience – up to 100” in size. Now, you can share your mobile experience with everyone. We projected some photos using theapp (see a full set of demos on their ). Instantly, you realize that photo slideshows and presentations will never be the same. Interacting with the 3-dimensional shapes and being able to share that experience with others is a game-changer. Streaming movies through is a breeze; and the video quality is fantastic. For office documents, is a wonderful program that looks even better at 60” in size. The ability of these mini-tablets to produce large, graphics-rich photos and videos enables collaboration in an entirely new way that other devices simply cannot match. No more zooming in to read documents. No more squinting. No more fighting for a conference room projector. Pico projection has arrived.
These mini-tablets are Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) devices that combine more functionality than just about any other device on the market. While these are not currently available for sale, the mini-tablet by NionCom™ with HDD will be very soon. Again, anything this reference design is capable of, the Vision™ mini-tablet can do as well. Here, we are using the flash-based mini-tablet reference design to demonstrate the features of both devices.
As we highlighted previously, these mini-tablets have a vast array of connectivity options and memory locations. These include: Wifi, Bluetooth®, full USB, micro SD memory card slot (expandable up to 64GB), and HDMI for displaying the full operating system. The smaller pico mini-tablet has 4GB of flash memory while the HDD-based Vision™ mini-tablet has a 500GB hard disk drive. The Vision™ also has an additional SD memory card slot (expandable up to 64GB). And, because these mini-tablets are Android devices, the full Android Marketplace is available. This means that users can make Skype phone calls, stream movies, surf the internet, play games, and work on office documents - each having the flexibility to display it all in a large-screen format. Near a television? Connect it via HDMI. No TV available? No worries. Simply share your content with the embedded laser projector at up to 100” in size. Because it uses MicroVision’s patented, the image is always in focus and produces beautiful, vivid colors. Looking to maximize the user experience, NionCom™ indicates that these mini-tablets will ultimately be a hub for multi-user content. Whether you want to play games with some friends or share an interactive presentation, these mini-tablets are designed to allow for wireless, multi-person operation. For example, future apps will allow multiple players to use their own devices as gaming controllers; the pico mini-tablets acting as the extended display, via the HDMI connection or embedded laser pico projector. Capabilities such as this truly set the NionCom™ mini-tablets apart from anything else on the market. As a means to ensure these mini-tablets can maintain this competitive advantage over time, a flexible design architecture was employed. As new and improved software and components become available, the design architecture of the device is configured to take full advantage. For example, as more advanced PicoP® display engines (PDE) are introduced over time, new products can be quickly introduced, using the same basic design, with minimal effort.
The mini-tablet we evaluated feels very well-made. It has a nice fit and finish and exudes an air of sleek modernism. You might be surprised by its lack of heft, but don't let this fool you - there is a lot of technology packed into this device, as we stated earlier. In fact, you can easily mistake this device for a mobile phone. In reality, the NionCom™ mini-tablet features just about everything you'd expect from a modern smartphone - and more - save for the cellular network card. However, this tablet is capable of making phone calls using Skype if you are in a Wi-Fi area. So, in a sense, it is a smartphone. Again, the smaller mini-tablet reference design demonstrates everything the Vision™ mini-tablet by NionCom™ will do.
One of the first things we wanted to look at after getting our hands on the mini-tablet was how well it performed in a moderately-lit room. Thankfully, the kickstand on the device allows for easy positioning on a tabletop. Quickly, we set up a demonstration of the tablet projecting on a small screen - in this case, a portable screen from.
After powering up the device, we turned on the embedded pico projector and immediately had the entire operating system at our disposal on the projection surface. With so many options at our disposal, it was difficult to know where to begin, honestly. We easily paired the mini-tablet to Wi-Fi and launched the browser. Navigation on the touchscreen is what you would expect from a high-end device - smooth and responsive. So, with no trouble we toured the web; every move on the screen mirrored by the embedded laser projector.
After some surfing, we thought we would take a break and try a couple apps on the device. First, we tried a little gaming on the mini-tablet: Angry Birds. As much fun as this game is on an iPod, or similarly-sized device, it doesn't compare to playing it on a larger scale - a small indicator of the benefits of pico projection. Even projecting just a bit over a foot away produces a much better gaming experience. This is something that needs to be seen to truly appreciate.
Once we satisfied our craving for gaming, we wanted to take a look at ImageAMMO™ and ThinkFree™ - two extremely useful apps. As we've highlighted a number of times, ImageAMMO™ is a very unique program that allows the user to not only view their images, but also interact with them in a virtual 3-dimensional environment. Image sets are presented as 3-dimensional shapes and can be rotated as the user sees fit; specific images can be expanded to full size. These image sets, known as Wrappers, can be shared with anyone for free. Photos and presentations never looked so good.
As for ThinkFree™, this app allows you to manage all your Microsoft Office documents on-the-go. Paired with the ability to share these documents in a large format, the ThinkFree™ app becomes all the more necessary on a do-it-all device like the NionCom™ mini-tablet. Whether sharing some sales figures with a co-worker or giving a presentation to a couple colleagues, an app like ThinkFree™ is a great addition to a pico-enabled device like these mini-tablets. Check out our video below for a demonstration of these apps.
After projecting some content on a "small-scale", we wanted to switch things up by connecting to a large-screen television. Utilizing the HDMI-out connection on the pico mini-tablet, we were able to stream all content being displayed on the device. We surfed the internet, played television content from DroidTV (Family Guy), and even played a highly-entertaining video game called Asphalt. This game utilizes the accelerometers embedded in the mini-tablet to create an extremely immersive driving experience. Basically, when connected to an HDTV, the device acts as a gaming controller while the television displays all the action. It is a really enjoyable and convenient way to entertain yourself. Lastly, we launched some office documents using the ThinkFree app on the device. On an HDTV, the documents look great. You can easily see how the Vision™ mini-tablet could become an indispensible tool for business people. Presenting and sharing these documents is a breeze with these devices. Check out the video below for the full demonstration of the Android mini-tablet streaming content to an HDTV.
To further demonstrate some of the unique features of this projection mini-tablet platform, we decided to set up a demonstration using the mini-tablet with Bluetooth speakers. In this configuration, the tablet truly becomes a portable cinema. Watching live TV through Slingbox and movies via Netflix is made all the more enjoyable when streaming the sound wirelessly. We also took a look at a very unique feature of the ImageAMMO™ app, called ImageAMMO™ Jukebox (experimental version). Here, we are able to select a shape of images that represent different songs. By clicking on the icons, you can launch different songs - it's a 3D jukebox! Check it out:
After all the fun we had with this mini-tablet from NionCom™, we figured it was finally time to test the full projection capability of the unit. Again, anything that is displayed on the device can be projected by the embedded laser pico projector - up to 100" diagonal. Surfing the internet, playing games, and watching movies are great on the 3.5-inch display; and even better on an HDTV. However, not much compares to being able to generate a cinematic experience from such a portable device - on demand.
We used the mini-tablet reference design to project a television show using DroidTV, office documents with ThinkFree™, and photos with ImageAMMO™. To really give you a sense of the utility of this mini-tablet, we even played Angry Birds and surfed the web at nearly 4-feet in size - and the image quality was great. Take a look at some video we took of the unit projecting larger images.
This mini-tablet platform by NionCom™ looks to recreate how people perceive pico projection. No longer is a pico projector a device that is tethered to a host device. No longer is a pico projector a slave to content stored on a memory stick. No longer is a pico projector a device for personal use. These mini-tablets seek to redefine the term "pico projection" by allowing for instant sharing of mobile content among many people. Depending on where the user is, he/she can choose the best method for maximizing the shared experience.
To complete our look at the Android Mini-Tablet from NionCom™, we took a look at the overall features of the device in the video below. Again, the device is very well-made and offers an unparalleled set of features for a projector of its size.
Let us know what you think about these mini-tablet devices using the comments section below. This has been a particularly enjoyable experience. Our thanks go out to NionCom™ for allowing Picopros to be the first website to dedicate time to such a ground-breaking device.
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