Tuesday, March 5, 2024

FIRST IMPRESSIONS | Samsung Freestyle smart theater-to-go projector

Samsung Electronics’ new projector innovation is the brand’s answer to what consumers with evolving lifestyles are looking for. Since the 2022 vision of Samsung is to provide “customizable experiences”, nothing sets the tone more than a device that aims to redefine its category.

Hands-on - The Freestyle

First introduced back in CES 2022 as a lightweight and portable screen projector with Smart TV features, this device is transforming not just the traditional form factor of projectors, but the way users are taking advantage of the instant display on any surface.  

The Freestyle can be easily mistaken as a mini-LED showcase spotlight because of its structure. And like this product, users can take advantage of the 180-degree design to place the projected screen, stretchable up to 100 inches, to the ceiling or the floor.

Since the 180-degree cradle stand plays a major role in the supposed “flexibility” of the projector, users would expect a safeguard against gradual loosening for the moving mechanism. This isn’t the case, and instead, the stand is simply a freestyle metal cradle screwed in.

The picture quality is undeniable on The Freestyle. The colors are vivid, the blacks are deeper than usual projectors, and the details are striking especially when streaming HD quality content. One aspect where the device suffers the same weakness seen from traditional projectors is when it is used in a well-lit environment or the outdoors.

Typically, users will need around 4000-5000 lumens to get good display performance in bright conditions and The Freestyle’s meager 550 lumens won’t stand a chance in this scenario. This means that the best use for this projector is exclusively indoors. This limitation narrows down the versatility of the device.

Thanks to the built-in 360-degree sound, on the other hand, the product can perform more as a home theatre. The Freestyle’s compact nature, just the size of Samsung’s Radiant360 R1 Bluetooth speaker which also has omnidirectional sound, means that users have a bigger range of options on where to place the projector.

This larger breathing room, however, does come with another drawback. Since the device has optimal screen sizes for select surface-to-projector distances, smaller areas are limited to smaller screen sizes. For maximum efficiency, Samsung recommends a 2.6-ft distance for a 30-inch screen size, and 8.8ft for the maximum 100-inch display.

A few final aspects to consider is operational temperature for extended use and realistic portability since it can only be used continuously when plugged in. For such a small metal chassis, the Samsung Freestyle projects high quality images and produces omnidirectional sound at the same time. Without the presence of an AC socket, users will have to come prepared with a 50W/20V powerbank.  

Hands-on - The Freestyle

The innovation of “The Freestyle” is a step in the right direction for projector products. Unfortunately, it is unclear who this product is for. Customers who want to experience home theaters are better off with fixed TVs and surround sound, and portability seekers should look into truly wireless projectors.

This lightweight device sits between TVs (P20,000-30,000) and traditional projectors upwards of 3000 lumens (P30,000-P40,000) with a price tag of around P50,000. Its main selling point is the versatility of a 160-degree angle display, the convenience of a built-in omnidirectional speaker, and the premium experience of high-quality image projection.  

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