Since I am on a bit of a kick about enhancing the Android experience with accessories, I'm going to continue it by looking at ways to extend your display. Too often I see people who have phones or tablets with micro-HDMI ports and they never take advantage of them. Sure, it does seem a little weird to have your phone display on a large HDTV, but there are definitely times that such connectivity can come in handy.
Movies? TV shows? How about presentations? Sounds like I'm talking about something a projector can do. Luckily, there is a growing market of small projectors that are portable, plug-and-play capable, and are great performers to do exactly all of that. In this review, we are looking at what can arguably be called the best mini projector out on the market today – the Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector. HDMI input, the ability to project images of up to 1080p resolution, portability, and a battery that lasts up to two hours make this ‘little projector that could' go the distance.
See this projector in action in the video at the end and read on to see what the Pocket Projector can do.
The first thing that you may notice about this projector that it is pretty small. It fits in the palm of your hand and weighs in at only half a pound. It is like a full sized projector was given the shrink ray treatment and this was the result – the projection comes out the front, obviously, with a small focus wheel right behind it on the side. On the opposite side of the focus wheel is the on/off switch, and that pretty much takes care of most of the body already.
Coming around the back, the four different ports are found – the HDMI output display port, an audio port for connecting any external speaker, the AC plug for charging the two hour rechargeable battery within, and finally a USB port that can be used for connecting any portable device. It is this USB port that provides one of the extra features of this projector – you can connect any device into it to suck some power out of the internal battery. So, in essence, this Brookstone can be a emergency power brick in a pinch. Finally, the projector comes with the AC charger and a couple adapters for converting the HDMI connection to either mini-HDMI and micro-HDMI, which are crucial for getting your Android display onto the wall.
Aside from that, you don't get any bells and whistles – the projector doesn't have any software installed within like, say, the 3M Roku projector that benefits from the inclusion of the Roku Streaming Stick for native connectivity to services like Netflix and Hulu. It also doesn't have much by way of menus – the touch sensitive buttons at the top of the device are simply there to adjust the volume of the built-in speakers (that you should only use as a last resort) and to change the display style of the projected image (‘Presentation' and ‘Normal', which both seem to display text slightly differently).
Once you do power up this projector and get your image onto a wall or screen, however, you realize why there isn't a whole lot more under the hood of this HDMI Pocket Projector – it is because all of the resources were put into the only part that mattered: the projection.
First thing out of the way – while Brookstone might have handled all of the bits around it, the projector tech itself was designed by Texas Instruments, arguably the top manufacturer of projection technology. Back at CES, we were able to look at a lot of projector products they had on display and this was one of them.
Okay, so you have your HDMI plugged in and the source is already outputting to the projector. If you are using your Android device, mirroring the phone/tablet display is standard. Powering up the Pocket Projector can yield you a 60-inch diagonal display that is capable of taking 1080p resolution. It's really an easy way of getting a big screen TV experience without actually buying a big screen TV.
That can be a bit of a misnomer, however, as the native resolution of the device is actually 858×480. 480p is about DVD quality, so that isn't anything to shake a stick at. However, that does mean that the 1080p resolution display coming from your source is being down scaled for the projector. What is actually making the image capable is the literal distance of the projector away from the screen surface.
The result is a display that is a little soft, as blowing up the image will obviously result in some loss of true sharpness. That being said, however, the image that you ultimately get from this Pocket Projector is actually really quite good. Colors are rendered very nicely and despite the softness, you can still see the details and displayed text is more than legible.
And what makes the image so nice, despite what seem like lackluster specs, is the light rating. Texas Instruments has been improving their projector technology over time and it shows even in this mini device. This Brookstone gets a rating of 85 lumens – the lower the lumen rating, the less bright the display is and the easier it is for the projection to get overpowered by external light sources – and thus even in a room lighted by a lamp, the projection still comes up quite clear. So, when you have the lights off, the brightness and high lumen count make for a great looking image that is capable of still shining when someone flips the switch.
I can go through all of features and all of the specs for quite a while, but there is one thing about this device that made this first time projector user fall in love: it's just that cool. Easily throwing a Game of Thrones episode onto a wall and enjoying the show is one thing, playing a couple hours of 60-inch large Anomaly is another. In either case, the display looked great and the experience was just awesome.
Coming in at $299, this little beast is available at your local Brookstone dealer, so you can get a quick chair massage and play with a remote control helicopter along the way. It is, however, available across the internet for the same price. I would recommend you look at it in the store however, so that you get to see firsthand the image this little device is capable of. Whether you already have a big projector or are like me from a few days ago and have never used a projector before, let us know in the comments below!