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Sprint LivePro review: lots of functions for a lot of money
While we get to see some fantastic Android devices each and every day, rarely do we come across one that offers multiple unique capabilities in a single package. The Sprint LivePro, manufactured by ZTE, is one such device. First announced back in January during CES 2014 and officially launched by Sprint in July, the LivePro is an Android device that can be used as an external battery bank, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a projector.
Of course, whether all this functionality is something you’ll want or need is entirely up to you, but how does it do with all the features it offers? We find that out, and more, in this review of the Sprint LivePro!
When it comes to the design, the LivePro has a square design and is made entirely of plastic. It is large, and quite thick, and while it won’t fit into any pockets, it’s still portable enough to carry around in a backpack. The size isn’t a big deal considering its multiple purposes, and it is still fairly compact for a projector.
On the bottom are little rubber feet to keep it from sliding around when placed on a flat surface, and there is also a tiny kickstand to prop the device up when using the projector. On the left side is the power button, a button to turn the power bank on or off, as well as a dial to adjust the focus of the projector. Hidden under a plastic flap are the microSIM card slot and the microSD card slot.
On the back is where you’ll find the 12V input for charging the device, a USB port, a HDMI port, and a standard headphones jack. The headphones jack will prove to be particularly useful to connect a set of external speakers to the device, as the built-in speaker doesn’t sound very good, and doesn’t get very loud either. On top is where you’ll find the 4-inch display, below which is the capacitive button layout that includes the back, home, and menu key. You also get a dedicated button to turn on and off the display, a button to turn on the projector, along with volume up and down keys.
When it comes to the display, you get a 4-inch screen with a relatively low 800 x 480 resolution. The viewing angles aren’t great either, so you’re not going to have the best experience if you plan to use it like an Android smartphone or tablet, despite the fact that is runs a full version of stock-like Android that allows you to do so. A device like this may not warrant the latest version of Android, but you do get Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on-board, giving you the ability to download applications, watch videos, and play games, as you would on any other Android smartphone or tablet.
On the hardware front, you get a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, and backed by 1GB of RAM. It may not be the most impressive of specifications, but it’s important to remember that the LivePro isn’t meant to function as a smartphone. So while you can perform basic tasks, anything too processor-intensive won’t do well.
Talking about its features, the Sprint LivePro can work as an external power bank to charge your device, and its 5,000 mAh battery is large enough to help you get close to two full charges. It can also function as a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing for up to eight simultaneous connections. Of course, you will need a special plan to use this feature, with plans starting from $34.99 for 3GB of 3G/4G data, up to $79.99 for 12GB of data. If you do plan on picking up this device for its hotspot capabilities, remember to check the coverage in your area first. But with good coverage, you get pretty decent speeds with Sprint’s Spark network.
But, the LivePro feature that will interest the most is its projector mode. The LivePro comes with a 100 lumen DLP bulb that isn’t super bright, but does very well in dimly lit rooms. If you’re hoping to use this projector as a home theatre replacement, the LivePro isn’t for you, but it’s quite good nonetheless.
Speaking about the projector, we have to mention the various ways to use the device. You can use the device directly, which is certainly the easiest, as you don’t have the hassle of connecting another device, with the device projecting whatever is running on the display. That said, you’re restricted to the resolution of the display, so you won’t be able to watch movies or Youtube videos in HD. Secondly, you have the ability to connect your smartphone or tablet to the LivePro wirelessly, and then project anything that is running on your device. The problem with this method is that there’s a delay between what you do on your device and what the projector shows. Unfortunately, it’s not just a visual delay, with audio going out of sync as well, making watching videos very difficult.
The third method, that offers the best results, is to the use the HDMI port of the LivePro, to which you can connect a laptop, or smartphone or tablet with the appropriate adapters. This is certainly the best option as far as media streaming is concerned, as there are no issues with latency of any kind, and you can watch movies and videos in HD, display photos, and show presentations without a hitch. A HDMI cable is included in the box.
Regardless of which method you choose, a big annoyance is how loud the fan gets when the projector is on, so if you’re watching a video, the sound of the fan does interfere with the audio.
As mentioned, the LivePro comes with a 5,000 mAh battery, which may be sufficient as a power bank, but certainly isn’t while using the device as a projector. You will get just around 2 hours of battery life, which is barely enough to watch a full length movie. So if you do plan on using the LivePro as a projector a lot, it’s obviously best to have it plugged into a power outlet.
- Dimensions: 4.7 inches x 4.7 inches x 1.1 inches (120.6mm x 120.6mm x 28.5mm)
- Weight: 14.1 ounces (400 grams)
- Display: 4-inch WVGA touchscreen display with 800×480 resolution and Gorilla Glass
- Projection Display: 10 inches to 10 feet
- Projector Type: DLP
- Lamp Brightness: 100 lumens
- Lamp Life: 20,000 hours
- Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3 or 16:9
- Battery: 5,000mAh Lithium-ion battery
- Memory: 4GB internal memory (ROM), 1 GB RAM, microSD card slot supports up to 64GB
- Ports: HDMI, USB
Pricing and final thoughts
The Sprint LivePro is available directly from Sprint for its full price of $449, or for a subsidized $300 price tag with a 2-year contract.
So there you have it – a closer look at the Sprint LivePro! The device does boast some unique capabilities, with the ability to use it as a power bank, while its hotspot feature is quite useful, as long as you’re willing to pay the price for a special data plan. What a lot of users will be interested in is the ability to use the LivePro as a projector. While it does an admirable job, the issues with media streaming and the poor battery life are a bit of a letdown, considering its steep price point. That said, there are very few, if any, devices out there that offer what the Sprint LivePro does, so if you plan to use it a lot, it is still worth it.