Three was a time when everybody crowded around a 19” black and white TV and thought ti was the greatest thing. Since then, TVs have gotten larger as people craved watching movies and TV shows on bigger screens. So why would anybody want to step backwards and do all their watching on a tiny smartphone screen? But since that’s the trend, Brookstone sends a portable big screen along with their Wireless Mobile Projector Pro.
Being a front projector it’s designed to “throw” an image (video or photo) onto a wall or any surface. About the size of one of today’s large smartphones, although rounded in shape and well under 2 lbs. in weight, it makes portable big screen watching more than just a possibility but a reality. This is partly due to the state of today’s electronics which can pack years of technology into a small package, but mostly due to the fact that the imaging system can put out a fairly bright image compared to other models of its size and type — a fan inside provides the cooling needed to avoid overheating. The use of a DLP system (digital light projection) also means a fairly long lasting light, and one with image quality (being similar to 720p quality) as well as a straightforward color palette. In other words what it seen as put out by this projector is worth watching and the results of using it isn’t some fuzzy image that you put up with “because.”
Most of the operational parts are located on the back, with the power on/off tab on the right. There’s the power input — use the wall plug to provide continuous power when it’s convenient and you want every erg of brightness, but also use it to juice up the rechargeable battery so as to make it totally portable (giving about 1.5 hours per charge). There’s also indicator lights that illuminate to show how much battery time is left. The most important connection on the back is that of the HDMI input. Since this will also transmit sound as well as video, it makes sense that there’s built-in stereo audio speakers. But to be realistic, there’s only so much volume it can make to be heard over the internal fan when running (and for stereo you do need the speakers to be more separated from each other), so for this reason there’s a headphone output — use it with earbuds for private viewing but connect a powered speaker to make things loud enough for a crowd.
There’s also a USB port next to the HDMI and this is brilliant — obviously the projector is going to be used primarily with a smartphone, so why not include a way to keep its battery charged during use (as video is battery draining)? The output covers 5 volts and so is usable even by tablets. True that using it will drain the projectors battery quicker, but it does eliminate having to carry a battery backup for the phone (and when used with the power plug the phone can charge up without draining the battery).
The only other control is on the top: a focus wheel and embedded volume up/down on either side of a dime-like Mode button (the volume controls are touch sensitive and illuminate when the projector’s light turns on). Mode provides access to a wireless mode that works with both iOS and Android OS phones, although apps used on some phones will be necessary as part of the process. Being able to wirelessly connect with the phone does more than just eliminate a cable (the HDMI, which on iOS devices requires a special accessory) — it truly adds a portability to the projector.
So why bother going through all of this when you can just as easily be staring at a touchscreen? Because of the size of the picture. Having a portable projector means that sharing with the crowd doesn’t have to be pointing your camera at them and aiming it left and right as everybody tries to see what you’re showing. This projector can provide a picture of up to 80″ and while a darkened room will absolutely let it perform at its best, having some ambient light isn’t going to hurt. Besides Texas Instruments builds into the DLP technology automatic compensation to dynamical adjust the projector’s brightness based not just on the ambient room light level, but also the content. What also doesn’t hurt is that the image is high-definition and of course designed for widescreen. And that the engineers figured out that a lot of times the projector will sit on an uneven surface and so having “key-stoning” built in — where the image can be electronically straightened out — would be a good thing since the odds of it always being on a level surface and not having to be aimed up are low (raising/angling the projector requires the use of books, etc. as there’s no provisions for this on the projector itself).
So how do you make the image larger? By moving it farther away from the “screen” the projector is aimed at. To help facilitate this, there’s a bottom mounted tripod socket. And since it tops off at 100″, that certainly provides enough wiggle room to get a large, sharp and bright image working.
But enough about the specs, let’s talk about what counts — how it looks. Pretty freaking cool to be able to pull the projector out and turn any viewing experience into a “motion picture show.” Using it after dinner with the relatives meant not only sharing it with the family, but making it easier to view by the older folks whose eyesight just can’t handle the small phone screen. It also makes impromptu viewings more dynamic. And none of this would be possible if the picture that the projector put out didn’t look good — people may not know the technical reasons why an image doesn’t cut it, but they sure know when something is attractive enough to gain a thumbs up. The Wireless Mobile Projector Pro does that. It even makes having to wait for the dryer to finish in the laundry room beyond bearable (also helps that the landlord never bothered to put in good lighting and left the walls bare and off-white).
Lost in all this is that you’re not confined to just using a smartphone — a tablet will work fine as will laptops and other devices (like an Apple TV or Roku streaming stick) that have HDMI outputs (or adapters to use in such cases). Depending on the device, you can have a portable movie theater for use outdoors or even in the car (obviously not when it’s moving or in the front seat, but still…).
Having a portable viewing screen is one of the features that mobile devices have made possible. Having a much, much bigger screen to view what is on that mobile or other device in a portable package is what makes the Brookstone Wireless Mobile Projector Pro so cool to have and use. And also makes the $399.99 retail both reasonable and acquirable.