Ignoring the projector lens in the front of the camera, the Coolpix S1000pj looks pretty similar to most other Coolpix models currently available. It's a sleek, black box with chrome accents. Inside is a 12.1 megapixel chip, and around back is a 2.7 inch LCD. It feels slightly heavy for its size, but that seems reasonable given the dual functions the camera performs.
The lens - well, the camera's lens - is offset to the right corner. Front and center is another lens belonging to the projector. Right on top of that is a sliding control that focuses the projected image. The button to turn on the projector is just above the camera lens on the top deck. I've accidentally pushed the projector button once so far, since it's positioned just where I want to hold the camera in my left hand. I hope that as I use the camera more, this won't be a major problem. Turning that projector on in your photographic subject's eyes wouldn't be very kind.
Using the projector has been very intuitive so far. Without diving into any manuals, most users won't have a problem powering up the projector and using the sliding control to focus the image. The camera doesn't need to be in playback mode to start projecting images - any mode will do. The first time I used the projector for a small group of friends, it got the sort of "ooh" and "aah" response that the S1000pj was built to inspire.
As you'd expect, a dark room is best for using the projector. I'm planning to test it out in a variety of settings, but a trial run in my living room with most lights turned off was successful. Details didn't really pop, but the image is clear and reasonably bright.
As for actual picture-taking, the Coolpix S1000pj is a mostly-auto camera. Auto mode offers the most control, though no options for anything but default metering. So far, most shots have been properly exposed indoors and out. I did dial in an exposure compensation for some outdoor shots that were looking too bright.
Cold weather and blowing snow drove me off the street and into Poeme - a stationary store in Cincinnati's Hyde Park neighborhood. The Coolpix S1000pj was faced with a mix of fluorescent, incandescent, and natural lighting, and I found that auto white balance performed well. The camera captures most colors nicely. Details in the center of the frame look sharp, and the shot below in macro mode is very clean (ignoring a bit of purple fringing).
We'll dive deeper into image quality in our full review. For now, take a look at some sample images. There's plenty more to come and lots more projecting to do.