The race to put projectors in absolutely everything is gathering steam. Following the release of several recent low-cost "pico" projectors, the technology was then taken up by Samsung in a mobile phone, and Nokia and Apple filed similar patents shortly after.

However, it looks like the company with the first projector-hybrid device on the market is going to be Nikon. It's just announced the Coolpix S1000pj, a digital camera that also packs a projector for display of Auntie Mavis' holiday snaps of Crete.

Of course we were there to have a good hands-on play with the new gadget du jour, and got an extensive demonstration of its features and functionality. Is it a gimmick, or is it going to change how we interact with our compact cameras?

For starters, it's clear that Nikon hasn't compromised on any of the regular Coolpix's features to cram in the projector. Everything you'd expect from a high-end compact is present and correct: 12-megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch LCD, 5x optical zoom, SD card, it's all there.

There's also the regular set of software features - image stabilisation, scene selection, D-lighting, red-eye fixing and face and smile detection. If that wasn't enough you'll also get skin softening functionality, which in our brief testing seemed to take the some of the shininess off faces automatically. Useful if you happen to have a very shiny face, we suppose.

Then there's the projector, and it's a good one, too. Despite seeming a little weedy on paper at just 10 lumens, we found that images were viewable at reasonably close range with full lighting on, and when blown up to 40-inches - the maximum the company says the camera supports - only a little dimming is needed for good clarity.

Video playback in particular was smooth and well-defined. It's always going to depend on what surface you're projecting onto, but assuming it's not Auntie Mavis' floral curtains you'll likely be fine. There's a bunch of slideshow options, too, for photo display.

The camera itself seemed of perfect acceptable quality. We didn't get a chance to look at the images taken on a computer screen, but blown up to 40-inches using the projector things looked crisp and vibrant.

So what you've got here is essentially a good camera, coupled with a good projector. There's a few drawbacks of course - you can't display what the camera's looking at on the projector, only play back pictures or video that you've already taken. Nor can you sideload your own video files for playback on the projector - that's not what it's designed for, the company tells us.

Elsewhere while the S1000pj does what it sets out to do admirably, we're a little confused of its value beyond the obvious showing-off-in-the-pub use case. Nikon admitted to Pocket-lint that it's not expecting to sell a lot of these little devices - just a few to geeks who want to have the latest toy.

First Impressions

Our time was, of course, brief and in a conference room with no natural light, so it'll be interesting to see how the camera fares in a real world environment with real world lighting to dilute the projected image.

Then there's that niggling urge of why you'd want to reproduce your images to show to people in a 70s-style slideshow borefest.

At the moment we can't see a killer selling point other than "Wow! That's so cool!". We aren't convinced that the S1000pj is a game-changing device, and that henceforth every compact camera is going to be carrying a projector. At the moment, that seems ludicrous - this is most definitely a niche product.

But if you want the latest gadget, and don't mind shelling out the best part of £400 for it, then the S1000pj, on the surface, looks like one to watch. Nikon has created a great little device, but we're not really sure why.