Upon first glance at the specifications, it's easy to underestimate The Freestyle. The video capabilities are somewhat modest; it's a 1080p LED projector that outputs perhaps 250 ANSI lumens (though keep in mind that LED projection is said to be perceived brighter than it traditionally measures). The projector has a single mini-HDMI jack and no physical outputs. This is a compact DLP, and the lens lacks any zoom or shift capability; instead, it relies on digital scaling and perspective correction to put an image where you want it.
Samsung wanted to ensure that buyers of its TVs, and in this case, the projector, get live TV content right away, without having to do anything but connect to broadband. The result is Samsung TV Plus, \"no strings attached\" free TV with a rather robust content lineup including shows from the major networks. It's free, requires no signup, and it just works. There's a dedicated button for it on the remote, and you can change channels just like you would with a regular TV.
While wireless connectivity is a major part of this projector's feature set, The Freestyle has a micro-HDMI input supporting 1080p signals up to 60 Hz. This is handy for connecting a gaming console or laptop, or perhaps a cable box or streaming stick using an appropriate adapter or cable. The projector also has a dedicated Game Mode.
HDR Picture Modes. The 1080p Freestyle processes HDR and 10-bit video if it's delivered via the streaming platform, but it lacks sufficient brightness or contrast to produce an HDR effect on a big screen. On the unit I reviewed, which is still pre-production, the mini-HDMI did not yet communicate properly with the Xbox Series X, or PCs, in order to enable support for HDR at 1080P. Samsung is working with Microsoft and anticipates having the issue resolved when the projector ships. Despite the limited brightness, there's still a benefit to HDR, thanks to richer colors and smoother gradients. Technically, the projector covers 82% of the DCI-P3 color space, per my measurements using CalMan software.
So let's start with the most traditional use for a projector, which is putting a big picture up on the wall, or preferably on a screen. I used a 100-inch, 16:9 Elite Screens with CineWhite 1.1-gain material for this task. This represents the maximum screen size that Samsung advertises for this projector, and it is stretching the projector's capabilities to push it this far. Still, suppose you turn out the lights. In that case, one is easily reminded that your eyes can adapt, so even though it's fairly dim, you can appreciate how well it renders 1080p with pleasing color right out of the box in Standard mode, with excellent sharpness, smooth motion, and no banding artifacts.
Sharpness at smaller sizes is also exemplary, as is screen uniformity. The pixel grid is just about invisible, I'd argue more so than on flat-panel 1080p monitors. And it's pretty cool to be able to have the exact size you want; when it's recreating the equivalent of a 30- or 40-inch monitor, the projector has enough horsepower to create a compelling image. Above these sizes, however, the peak brightness drops off to the point where you lose the effect and it stops looking like a bright and contrasty flat-panel display.
So, it's worth mentioning again that Netflix is built into the projector; it's kind of a big deal since it's something Samsung's got, and a lot of its competition doesn't. Netflix even gets a dedicated button on the remote. I rewatched parts of Chappie and thought the picture looked nice, sharp, color-accurate; it even sounded good (in relative terms). The value you can get from a simple Netflix subscription and this projector is just over the top. I've also got HBO Max, Apple TV+ and Disney+ subscriptions. Those apps are all available, and I have a YouTube TV subscription I use for watching live sports in 1080p that is also supported. With this projector, I've got a portable display I could use to watch a game with friends, family, or fellow sports fans, even if I was out camping or stuck in an airport where all the bars and restaurants are closed. Sports looked good thanks to the accurate colors, sharp picture, and the good motion handling.
After a week of using and reviewing the Samsung Freestyle, I concluded that I love this thing. Sure, there is a rational projector reviewer in me that says it's \"just\" a modestly capable, 1080p compact projector with a particularly good focusing mechanism, sharp lens, and a great smart OS. But there is also a kid in me that says, \"Hey, this thing is really awesome, you've never really seen anything quite like it, and you wish you owned one.\"
Pricing for The Freestyle has been set at $899 / 999 / AU$1,299, which is a little pricier than other portable projectors on the market. Of course, that should be expected for a product that offers far more functionality and polish than its competition. Taking this into account, we'd argue the price is quite reasonable for a 1080p HDR projector that delivers the Samsung smart TV experience on the go.
You want great picture and audioThe Freestyle offers surprisingly great picture quality and brightness for a 1080p projector that's limited to 550 lumens. We also appreciate its built-in 360 degree speaker.
Though experiencing rapid price drops beginning in 2013 for viewing devices, the home cinema digital video projector market saw little expansion, with only a few manufacturers (only Sony as of 2015[update]) offering limited 4K-capable lineups, with native 4K projectors commanding five-figure price tags well into 2015 before finally breaking the US$10,000 barrier. Critics state that at normal direct-view panel size and viewing distances, the extra pixels of 4K are redundant at the ability of normal human vision. Projection home cinemas, on the other hand, employ much larger screen sizes without necessarily increasing viewing distance to scale. JVC has used a technique known as \"e-shift\" to extrapolate extra pixels from 1080p sources to display 4K on screens through upscaling or from native 4K sources at a much lower price than native 4K projectors. This technology of non-native 4K entered its fourth generation for 2016. JVC used this same technology to provide 8K flight simulation for Boeing that met the limits of 20/25 visual acuity.
In other words, pixel shifting cannot produce adjacent vertical lines of RGBRGB or other colors where each line is one pixel (1/3840th of the screen) wide. Adjacent red and green pixels would end up looking like yellow, with a fringe on one side of red, on the other of green - except that the next line of pixels overlaps as well, changing the color of that fringe. 4K UHD or 1080p pixel shifting cannot reveal the fine detail of a true 4K projector such as those Sony ships (business, education and home markets). Also, JVC has one true 4K projector priced at $35,000 (as of mid-2017).
So while 4K UHD appears like it has a pixel structures with 1/4 the area of 1080p, that does not happen with pixel shifting. Only a true 4K projector offers that level of resolution. This is why \"true\" 4K projectors cost so much more than 4K UHD projectors with otherwise similar feature sets. They produce smaller pixels, finer resolution, no compromising of detail or color from overlapping pixels. By comparison, the slight difference in aspect ratio between DCI and 3840 2160 pixel displays without overlap is insignificant relative to the amount of detail.
A rechargeable remote control comes included with The Freestyle and is the only physical input you'll get with the media player. There are no buttons or touchpads on the projector itself, which may be a nuisance for some. You'll find a good variety of buttons on the remote: Standard navigations, volume and channel keys, a microphone toggle, and shortcuts to Samsung TV Plus, Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video. It also charges via USB-C, the one and only standard that should be used across tech products.
After manually adjusting the focus, all four corners of the projection had a good amount of sharpness and clarity. And although the projector peaks at a 1080p resolution, it can still downscale 4K content to the point where images look crisp and vivid.
Here's the thing: The Freestyle can't keep up with Tizen. What I mean by that is the projector frequently lags and takes an extra second or two to respond to button presses. This was most apparent when I'd boot up the machine and needed to browse through the settings to adjust the focus and keystone. From scrolling through the settings menu to channels and apps, it just seems like the processor that The Freestyle runs on is always playing catch-up with the operating system.
The projector also comes with an Android TV dongle and a capable Netflix app. And its three-LCD-chip design eliminates any possibly of seeing the red, green, and blue flashes, known as rainbow artifacts, that some people see more easily than others. The price is a little high for the 720p resolution, but most 720p and 1080p projectors that offer both portability and 2,000 lumens use lamps that, unlike lasers, have to be replaced over the life of the projector, raising the total cost of ownership.
The GV30 is also one of the few projectors that promises to survive a fall. BenQ rates it as drop-proof for up to 27.6 inches, which is tabletop height, or about the distance from your hand to ground while carrying it. All that, plus a built-in battery, makes the GV30 eminently portable, while the bundled Android TV dongle and surprisingly capable 2.1-channel chamber speakers mean you don't need to bring a separate video source or sound system.
Most mini projectors are less expensive than any room-to-room portable, and the Solar Portable is our top pick in the category. Even better, along with a low price, it fits a lot of features into a small package, including native 1080p resolution, built-in Android TV 9 for streaming