Portable Smart Projectors
As more and more Americans seek to bring technology into the outdoors with them, one area that has seen a huge increase in popularity are portable projectors. The segment, expected to grow 25% by 2025 is being powered by our love affair with streaming entertainment and staying connected while outdoors and traveling.
Not only are American’s traveling with streaming sticks more than ever, thanks to how portable their entertainment is, they are beginning to use projectors to bring TV and entertainment easily on connected camping trips, tailgates and backyard entertainment. While streaming to a project is easier than ever with the right components, there is a new trend – portable smart projects.
What Are Portable Smart Projectors?
Portable Smart Projectors are small format projectors that also include WiFi capabilities and streaming apps. Some even have batteries, allowing you to stream without any dedicated power source.
The concept being that instead of a separate projector, streaming device and power source – portable smart projectors combine two or more of those elements into a single device designed specifically for use on the go. They are often smaller in size and easier to transport.
Popular Portable Smart Projectors
Anker Nebula Capsule 2
One of the most cost effective portable speakers from a well known brand, the Anker Nebula Capsule 2. Priced under $500 this device includes WiFi capabilities, small size and a battery pack for a low price. The device runs Google TV (Android TV) allowing you to install apps directly on it. It can project up to 100 inch screen and weights under 5 lbs.
Some cons of this device though are lower resolution (720p), relatively short battery life (good for about one movie) and low lumen count (200). So it’s best when a single unit ultra portable is the goal.
Kodak Luma 450
Many may knwo the Kodak brand for cameras, but they’ve also made projectors for well over a decade. The Kodak Luma 450 packs a lot of power into a small package. The device features Full HD (1080p) resolution, the ability to project up to 170″ screen, Google (Android) TV, and an HDMI port for under $600.
While the specs are impressive compared with an Anker, some downsides are no battery, still relatively low lumens (200), and relatively quiet (1 watt) speakers.
The XGIMI Halo is a powerful portable smart project. Featuring Full HD (1080p), projecting up to a 300″ image and an impressive 800 lumens of power and a Harmon Kardon speaker it’s one of the best spec’d smart speakers. Starting around $800 it’s on the pricey side, but if you are serious about your portable smart projector this is a great candidate.
Like the other devices is runs Google (Android) TV for the apps. It also has a battery that will last about 4 hours, which is good enough for a movie or a single game. The powerful sound is a welcome addition for portable moving watching.
Still, the higher price and weight (almost 7 lbs) are negatives if you are looking for cheap or ultra portable. Also, the interface can be a little clunky, including needing to take extra steps to install Netflix, which is shocking given its is the most popular streaming service in the world.
Limitations Of Portable Smart Projectors
Like many “travel” products, portable smart projectors have some limitations. These are generally a compromise of size, cost and the fact that users don’t expect as much from “portable” or travel devices.
Low Lumen Count
While home projectors often easily reach and exceed 1000 lumens, with high end models reaching 2,500 lumens of light – smart portable projectors usually run between 200-500 lumens. While camping in the dark this is not an issue, but in brighter suburban backyards or daytime tailgating this becomes a substantial issue.
While they all run HD, the quality difference in resolution is very clear as you get over 100 inches in size. Considering we are getting use to 4K at home, setting for 720p when the screen is 4 times the size can be a let down. You can achieve the ultimate in quality on the go, but you may need to expand your setup a consider something other than an all in one projector. For most people who are just some family or social entertainment, this is a secondary concern.
While many portable smart projectors include batteries don’t plan a full day of tailgating or a weekend of glamping with the built in battery. 4 hours is the high side for most devices, a compromise on price and weight most of these projectors make. If you need long term power plan on an alternative power source like a battery box or running wall power (if available).
While all of these projectors have WiFi capabilities, they don’t create internet connectivity themselves, for that you’ll need a hotspot if where you doesn’t have WiFi. For backyard portable streaming you may been within your houses WIFi range. For most uses, including tailgating, camping and other travel uses you’ll need to use your phones hotspot or use a cellular hotspot. Your favorite sports team or campground may offer WiFi. However, your experience will vary greatly. For the occasional use, your phones hotspot should work great.
But if you are taking the plunge on a dedicated portable smart projector, you may consider a smart travel WiFi device to pair with it. Your phone won’t be tied to the projector and it has a lot of other benefits if you travel regularly.