Portable video entertainment system

seasons greets coro-peeps ! here is a portable video entertainment system i’ve been working on lately. basically, it has a low energy 1080p capable led projector lens setup with built in dvd player, hard disk, rechargable battery, speakers, stowable carry handle, wi-fi, bluetooth and a simplified controls interface. i will post sketches, developments and an exploded view later, i would love to hear any constructive initial comments you have on this…

First thing I noticed: Where’s the fan? These units generate a ton of heat and usually require ventilation. I notice the perforations on the top of the unit but you’ll probably need some airflow through the unit. That means vents on the sides for cooling, most likely with the help of a fan or two. Also, can you fit all the guts to the system in such a small package? If not, how would you expand the shell in order to fit them?

Like the form though, kind of like a larger ergo-mouse feel.

I like the form (body) as well, but that lens just placed on the front isn’t working for me. It seems to have been an after thought.

I know this is a lot of feedback, but here it goes.

From a pure form standpoint:

The form has a very motorcycle gas tank feel… very organic, almost like a horseshoe crab. As pointed out, the lens does not respond to this at all. The form around the lens should communicate with it, it could be as simple as a slight radius around where the lens intersects and as complicated as the form bulging, reaching out a bit, to meet the lens.

After that, I would say the focus bezel on the lens should match the body more, move away from the stock milled groves and design a grip detail that goes with the body.

Finally, the details of the speaker or vent holes in the top surface also shoud respond to the form, gradate out or stop in an interesting line other than the straight cut off. The hadle form, a very bahaus pill shape, also does not match.

OK, now that we’ve covered the simple stuff, I’d also like to see some process. An inspiration board, a consumer image board, who is this for? What else is in their life? Is this high end? Low end? What brand? What other forms were explored… give us the whole enchilada.

Nice render, no doubt. I can see you’ve put quite some time into the render, so I’ll try to give as much feedback as possible. Not trying to be harsh, but constructively critical, yes.

Ok, first off, let’s talk function.

  1. Based on the slot on the back, and the appropriate size for a CD (assuming the slot is just a touch wider than a CD), the CD when fully inserted would take up the same space as you show the handle (in the “down” position) occupying.

  2. There are no feet or other way to adjust the image up/down or balance on a surface that isn’t totally flat (the reason most projectors have 2 feet in the back and one adjustable one in the front to make a steady tripod).

  3. The handle when it is inside the body, so close to all the guts, bulbs, etc. would likely get super hot. Not a good thing.

Now, form.

Of course any discussion of form is somewhat subjective, but I’ll just give you my thoughts on what i see.

  1. I think based on the size of what I see (again relative to the CD size), that overall this object in real life would quite bulky looking and not very elegant. The organic form you have applied, larger on the base, and the side sculpting makes it appear even bigger than it is. If it was more sculpted towards the bottom (the flat bottom is very unresolved), or stood away from the ground surface it could help to minimize the bulk. It doesn’t feel very portable to me given the flat bottom…

  2. I’m not at all feeling the organic form. I actually think (as opposed to the other comments), that the lens is the nicest part. As Yo mentioned, you’ve got quite a mix of formal directions going on. Very organic body, technical, classical lens, apple-esque button icons and forms, bauhaus-geometric handle. IMHO, I find that for things like this, a more restrained aesthetic works better. The more organic, or “overdesigned” it is, the cheaper it looks. To me, this looks like a cheapo off-brand vacuum cleaner, one of those “shark” things… In most equipment like this, you want it to blend in well with other components. Your computer, you stereo, etc. This unnecessarily stands out and wouldn’t match anything I can think of, except maybe one of those gaming PCs perhaps for teens… is that what you are going for?

    Overall, as Yo also asked, it would be great to get some background. Who? What? Why? etc. To me, it looks like another example of jumping too quick to a fancy render before the details and overall design are worked out. You do mention you have more process stuff, though, so maybe I’m out of order.

Thanks for posting.


The retractable handle is on the same axis as the optics. It would block the projection in the lowered position.

It’s clear to me there has been no real thought to this design proposal against real world constraints.

There are a whole host of issues in the real world to consider and some would be involving regulatory standards (UL, CUV, TUV, GS, etc.)

It’s a decent rendering but that’s about it.

I would take a look at what goes inside a real projector and configure the design accordingly. It would make for a more convincing and realistic concept and bring you credibility as a designer.

You have to be able to explain these questions and issues in a real presentation so it was a good idea to show it to us first. This could save you the embarrassment of not knowing or having a good answer in a meeting. Once your credibility is blown it’s almost impossible to get back.

Why does the lens have to protrude from the body…can’t it be integrated inside the body?

The parting line area also flares out to a sharp edge. Doesn’t look safe to handle. A real product would have feet and be raised off teh ground too. How are the I/O ports molded in?

Put yourself in the audience’s shoes and look past the rendering and at the real object itself. Ask why, how, etc. and check it with reality. If you have a plausible answer for all “what about’s” and “what ifs” then it’ll fly better and be swallowed by those viewing your presentation/portfolio.

well, it’s interesting to see the responses here from this, i’ve not had a chance to respond sooner since visiting relatives in europe over christmas. anyway, i have attached an exploded view of the unit here to help validate and clarify the design further.

here are some individual responses :

@nurb : there are two fans inside, as shown in the exploded view, along with the other critical components. it is true that typical dlp projectors output a lot of heat and need a fan as well as a lot of power, however, this projector has a led based dlp projection system that requires considerably less power and no fan.

@yo : i purposefully designed the lens system to come out from the body like it is for several reasons. functionally, i wanted to have an obvious manual focus bezel that is easy to grip (this product is designed to cater for an older market). also, to counterpoint the organic body style, i wanted to have some geometric definition in some areas to ‘ground’ the overall look of the unit, hence the flat bottom and the revolved lens and bezel shape. finally, there simply is not room in this to fit the projection and lens system inside because of the retractable handle.

it’s true that the handle does have a bauhaus shape that does not match the style of the product. this is why the handle retracts seamlessly into the body so that this functional bauhaus form is only revealed when the handle is in it’s erected position for carrying.

one of the driving factors leading to the development of this design was to celebrate american design and entertainment culture by producing an entertainment system that embodied a combination of inherently american streamlining and art deco styles. it seems that art deco and streamlining styles (being iconic styles of american design) have been forgotten and needed to be revived in a contemporary product that celebrates one of america’s greatest industries : entertainment.

the final design has a combination of streamlining and modern style. later, i will post some sketch developments and inspiration boards that show form developments and considerations that also include art deco. i did experiment with having silver trim details around the front of the projector on either side of lens, like three silver trim details shown on the front of the product in the image shown below.

this product is designed for senior consumers. the simple user interface was also a major consideration in the design of this for this reason. i have named this product telegenesis, if this product was branded to a company, i would think of some major american consumer brand like hp or microsoft.

@rkuchinsky : there is a tight spatial arrangement in this design but the dvd inserted would adequately fit inside the drive without any spatial interference with the handle.

no feet were shown in the original drawings, there are feet as can be seen in the exploded view.

this unit emits very little heat because of the led projection system, sdd hard disk drive and two fans on either side of the handle.

a round bottom could help the form of this, that i agree, however, considering the limited internal space, internal arrangement of components and the feet on the base, i decided to keep it flat.

i’m not looking for a ‘me too’ product here, i am driving towards changing the form paradigm in product design to develop new products that offer more with new looks. this new design has a very different look with many different formal design styles, some of which do clash with each other. i am not designing a high end product here, i’m developing something which i am not aware currently exists and could use some radical forms to accentuate that fact that it is new.

@one-word-plastics : as is shown in the exploded view, the projection assembly for led based systems has a very small footprint (consider those micro/mini led projectors, it’s like a chip with embedded led’s). this allows the projection system to fit against the handle area.

@mpdesigner : the edges of the casing around the parting line are crisp but not sharp (i have designed many electronic consumer products and i’m well aware of handling radii). the crispness of this edge is the purpose, maybe it could use a slightly larger fillet from an aesthetic standpoint. the feet issue has been explained above. the i/o ports are in a molded assembly separate from the bottom casing, this assembly also has the purpose of providing support to the dvd drive above it.

i would like you to elaborate on your statement ‘it’s clear to me there has been no real thought to this design proposal against real world constraints’ ? in conjunction with this, you mention various standards (some of which i am aware of) and requirements for developing this, have you developed products like this ? can you show us some of your portfolio process images, sketches, developments and renderings by way of example ?

i realise that some more development could go into this design by way of aesthetics, maybe it is a little too radical and not finished enough but i do like this initial concept. as mentioned, when i get a chance, i will post some sketch developments and influence sheets, i might revisit the base and lens area too… thank you for all of your comments !

Context, context, context.

  • Where does this product go? Is the aesthetic contextually-appropriate? (Art-deco isn’t a very popular interior-design trend these days! Can you show us a photo of an ‘ideal environment’ this would match with?)

  • Accessories: Is the user supposed to provide a stand? A screen? You provide a handle on this product for portability–do other accessories have similar portability needs? What about the power cord & cord management?

  • Does the aesthetic communicate the values desired by the target market? (ie. the ‘looks cheap’ comment.)

  • Who are the users and what unique needs are solved by this design? You mention seniors…elaborate.

  • Are the controls visible/intuitive/ergonomic for the target market and use? Ie. do I have to reposition myself to use the controls? The abstract iconography of the controls look pretty high-tech for seniors.

  • Are there proper usability affordances? Is it intuitive that this is a DVD player and where to insert the DVD’s? Is it easy to do so?

  • “Telegenesis.” How does this name relate to the product and contribute to brand-building?

I stumbled across this image on the internet and made me think of this project. I think they successfully incorporated the lens in the organic form…

this unit emits very little heat because of the led projection system, sdd hard disk drive and two fans on either side of the handle.

I’d need to be convinced of this. I’m not saying you are wrong, but in my experience designing high output LED lights (spotlights/commercial applications) heat is the biggest issue, requiring robust heat sinks and venting. And to be used in a decent long-throw projector, not a mini-desktop projector, you’ll need a large array of high output LEDs. Consumer projectors are 1000 Lumens. The best LED array for projectors I could find approximated about 25. I wonder if this would be enough? Or only usable in the dark?

The retractable handle is on the same axis as the optics. It would block the projection in the lowered position.

@one-word-plastics : as is shown in the exploded view, the projection assembly for led based systems has a very small footprint (consider those micro/mini led projectors, it’s like a chip with embedded led’s). this allows the projection system to fit against the handle area.

Regardless of whether or not your light source is LED, you’ll still need room for two lenses and space between them to do their optics thing. Take a look at this picture from stage lighting on wiki, these are the internal optics, see how far apart they are? the light source on the left could be anything, yet the lenses still need to be adjustable and apart.

The pocket projector from 3M is long, with the lens at one end.

In regard to the form, I finally figured out where it feels like it belongs, in the halo universe:

in DLP market two items dominate: lumens, price.

All small projectors I’m aware of are part of a product family: same physical design but more lumens, computing power, connectivity, power options, etc. It may be not part of your requirements, but it certainly is of any commercial projector.

on/off button directly over the heat producing assembly.

As shown, the LED assembly is embedded with the optics and is manual focussed: again creating a high heat touch point.

Handle is blocking the real optical path.

There are significant electronic componentry not shown that will affect successful implementation of much of this design: the DLP chip and its electromechanical assembly, power / charging pcb, interface PCB to hard disk and IO’s, etc.

From designing these type of products, most are built up on an internal chassis which is then enclosed with your beautiful molded skins. Not all are completely like this, some have partial chassis with integral base mounted components.

Autofocussing is very good and included with most projectors, which is why most bury the lens. I recommend a convex top to preclude absent minded owner placing a book, dinner tray, etc. on top of the projector and blocking air exhaust. No senior is going to appreciate small hidden connectors. Personally I would not design, for seniors, a flush keypad with iconography; tactile with mix of words and icons is better.