Samsung Freestyle portable projector test – big screen in your pocket?

If you are looking for a projector that can fit in a small space, but still looks great, then the Samsung Freestyle was made for you.

At this year’s CES, Samsung announced the Freestyle portable projector, which primarily stands out from the increasingly crowded field with its small size and design. This category has existed for quite a long time anyway, but while it used to be mainly the field of unknown manufacturers, today even the patina manufacturers see fantasy in the matter.

Design

One of the most important features of the Samsung Freestyle is that the entire projector is housed in a small, cylindrical housing. The gadget is not only small, but also looks good, Samsung really did everything to create a product that can be placed anywhere in the apartment – the essence of the Freestyle is that you can really put it anywhere in the apartment. On the shelf in the living room, on the table on the terrace, or even next to the bed in the bedroom.

Its angle of inclination can be changed at will between 0 and 90 degrees, so you can project the image not only on the wall, but also on the ceiling, which you can view very comfortably while lying on the bed.

It doesn’t matter what angle you set: the projector automatically detects the position and, based on this, corrects the image so that it always takes the shape of a perfect rectangle. The correction is not only accurate, but also fast in all cases, and also covers focus adjustment.

Of course, the image correction does not work on an optical principle, but on a digital basis; therefore, it is a small inconvenience that not only the useful area is visible on the wall, but the entire projection area, since due to the technology, the projector cannot switch off the pixels that are not currently involved in image creation.

The front panel of the Samsung Freestyle projector has a few interesting features besides the projector lens: the distance sensor that helps with automatic focus adjustment, a microphone (for the digital voice assistant) and four touch-sensitive buttons for control are also located here. Of course, it’s not the most convenient thing if you always have to press the projector, which is why this is only the B-plan in the first place: you can primarily use the remote control for control. It’s much more convenient just because of the four-way D-pad and OK button, but it’s also useful to have a direct button for Netflix and Disney+.

On the side, a USB-C connector has been installed to connect the power supply, and the “image” of other devices can reach the projector via the micro-HDMI connector. Considering the price of the Freestyle, it is a negative that the converter for the micro-HDMI connector was not included in the box, so it must be purchased separately. The microphone also comes with a hardware switch-off button if you always want to keep your private data safe.

Behind the shiny exterior is an average interior

The Samsung Freestyle’s hardware is completely ordinary in its category. The image is produced by a combination of an LED light source and a DLP system. The 1920×1080 pixel resolution is considered good among compact devices, but less so in the price category – for this (or almost) 4K models are easy to find among “regular” projectors.

Based on the factory data, the light source is capable of a brightness of 550 nits, in practice the gadget provides roughly 60 percent of this with the basic settings, with a projection distance of 1.5 meters. While the Freestyle can handle even HDR video, its brightness is nowhere near enough to really matter. The life of the lamp is around 20,000 hours, which in practice means that it can serve the entire life cycle of the device (even if we watch a movie every day, all this means enough reserve for 25 years).

Not surprisingly, there is no zoom function either, the image size is determined solely by the projection distance – i.e. not completely, because there is a scaling option in the menu, but of course this also only works digitally. That is, the size of the projected image does not change, only which part is “useful”.

Although it is not visible, there is also a WiFi 5 adapter under the cover, and there is also a 5-watt speaker that spreads the sound in all directions. Despite its performance and size, the speaker is not bad, but it cannot deliver the performance of a better quality Bluetooth speaker. However, thanks to the built-in Bluetooth adapter, if you have a BT speaker or headphones, you can connect them directly to the projector.

During use

One of Samsung’s important promises is that the projector does not need to be adjusted before use. This is more or less correct, we would make so many additions that the WiFi data (SSID/password) must be entered in order for the projector to be able to connect to the Internet. Also, if the color of the wall is not white, you will also need a 2019 or newer Galaxy S, Note, Z, Z Flip or iPhone and the SmartThings application to adjust the projector image to the color of the wall. However, the image adjustment is really automatic, and the electronics not only performs the trapezoidal correction, but also rotates the image if it was not possible to place the projector in a horizontal position. It is worth paying attention to the fact that the picture reaches the wall at an angle of no more than 20-30 degrees, and the ceiling 60-70 degrees, otherwise one edge of the picture will be slightly blurred.

Based on Samsung’s ideas, you really don’t need more than that; the engineers could also decide on micro-HDMI because the Internet is intended as the primary source of content. In the first round and very broadly, this means YouTube and Netflix/Disney+ or mirroring the phone screen with the SmartThings application, but thanks to the Tizen system, the projector offers practically exactly the same functions as a Samsung smart TV. Of course, with the help of the micro-HDMI connector, it is also possible to connect a media player, game console or computer to the gadget – but as we mentioned earlier, this requires an extra converter.

Not a very useful extra function, but it is also possible to mirror the image of a Samsung TV on the Freestyle; however, it may come in handy that thanks to AirPlay 2 support, the gadget works as a second monitor with a Mac via WiFi. It’s also a good idea that all kinds of decorations can be projected on the wall with the help of the little thing – although even the inscriptions on the birthday greetings cannot be changed completely freely.

The projection distance can be anywhere between 0.8 and 2.7 meters, so The Freestyle can project an image between 76 and 254 cm diagonal. Of course, the brightness does not rival that of normal projectors, and this is so true that it is always recommended to darken it. The 400:1 contrast ratio and the scene coverage are not bad, however; the fact that the colors are accurate and the color temperature of 6300K is also very close to the optimal value adds a lot to the enjoyable image quality.

The projector can even be controlled by voice, but only Bixby and Amazon Alexa voice assistant services are supported.

We clearly consider the biggest drawback – especially in this price category – to be the fact that the projector does not have a battery. So, by default, portability means that you can take the Freestyle anywhere inside the apartment or in the garden, if the “220” reaches there. Of course, the USB-C connector allows you to use the projector with a mobile battery, but in practice there are quite a few batteries that can deliver 50 watts of power. By the way, Samsung itself promised a replacement base for the gadget, which has since arrived; but this raises the price of the projector by another HUF 70,000.

But is it worth the price?

The Freestyle is Samsung’s first foray into the world of portable projectors, and it didn’t do badly – but not as well as you’d expect based on its price. Samsung threw a number of great ideas into the hat (good design, Tizen operating system, streaming applications, AirPlay 2 support), but it also made a lot of mistakes (not very bright, no battery). However, our biggest concern is the price! HUF 370,000 is simply too much, as you can find high-quality portable projectors for HUF 150-200,000 – and with built-in batteries – and 4K normal projectors with much higher brightness in the HUF 370,000 price range.

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Source: PC World Online Hírek by pcworld.hu.

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