In terms of display size, smartphone manufacturers are faced with striking a balance between a size that is big enough to be comfortable to view and type on and one that is still small enough to fit inside a jacket packet. Advances in imaging technology have enabled miniature projectors that provide extra screen size in a compact form factor. This has led to a flood of such devices appearing at CES in recent years, such as the SHOWWX laser pico projector. CES 2012 doesn't look like being any different with QP Optoelectronics announcing it will debut its LightPad that adds a keyboard and bigger display to a smartphone at the world's biggest consumer electronics show this coming January.

Coming in a folio-form factor, the LightPad folds out to reveal a full-size keyboard, pico projector sourced from Texas Instruments and a built-in 11-inch screen. Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry smartphones, the device connects via HDMI or MHL and can display the output from the phone on either the 11-inch screen using rear projection or be spun around to project images of up to 60 inches in size in front projection mode.

The 2012 G1 model displays images at 854 x 480 pixel resolution at 18 lumens, while the G2 model slated for 2013 ups the resolution and brightness to 1280 x 720 and 50 lumens respectively. Closed, the G1 measures 257 x 207.5 x 12 mm (10.1 x 8.16 x 0.47 in) and weighs 550 g (19.4 oz), with a battery life of five hours, while the G2 will measure 257 x 207.5 x 6 mm (10.1 x 8.16 x 0.23 in), weigh 350 g (12.3 oz) and boast seven hours of battery life.

Despite improvements in technology in recent years, pico projectors still suffer from brightness problems when viewed in brightly lit environments. However, the rear projection screen employed in the LightPad is designed to improve performance in this regard. We'll be sure to check it out at CES 2012 to see how it performs first hand and see if we can nail down a release date and pricing details.

Check out the video below to see the LightPad in action.

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