At first sight, I developed a slight infatuation with The Freestyle, Samsung’s portable projector. From its clean aesthetics to the vibrant colours of the picture, I was impressed by the whole experience.
But perhaps that was a honeymoon phase, I had just dipped my toes into the projector. Will my sentiments hold up once I take a deeper dive into The Freestyle?
Speculating the specs
Let’s recap the highlights of The Freestyle.
The main thing that stands out is the 180-degree tilt which makes it not just possible but easy to project images onto any surface, including the ceiling.
Another factor is portability. With its small footprint and manageable weight, moving the projector around is hassle-free.
Since it’s a smart projector, apps like Netflix and YouTube are also easily accessible after connecting to Wi-Fi, which is great for those without an HDMI cable.
You can also connect your phone or tablet to it via Bluetooth to stream content that’s not available on Samsung’s built-in Smart TV features.
The auto-keystone and auto-focus features also make the viewing experience a pleasure, as I remember the days when you’d end up watching skewed images with your head tilted because your teacher couldn’t get the settings right. (Just me?)
While the audio quality of the omnidirectional speaker is not going to replace a full-fledged sound system anytime soon, it does its job rather well. The smart assistant feature that supports Bixby is also a welcome bonus for hands-free moments.
The Freestyle can project images from 30 inches to 100 inches. The max resolution is 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and it has just 550 lumens of brightness, which surprised me.
Most projectors boast upwards of a thousand lumens. Given the vibrance of The Freestyle’s projections, I assumed it’d also be up there, so I’m all the more pleasantly surprised with its output.
Vibrant visuals but questionable quality
Indeed, the vibrant visuals I can’t stop praising still hold up after repeated use of The Freestyle. The Movie picture mode in particular enhanced the contrast and colours, which helped when watching movies with darker moods.
On the topic of moods, I also found the ambient modes to be a great addition. Samsung offers a variety of pictures and videos that you can load up to bring some intrigue onto your walls. From virtual windows to congratulatory messages, The Freestyle wants to be included on various occasions.
Despite the lovely colours, upon closer inspection, the picture quality isn’t that magnificent. Perhaps I’m just too used to 4K resolution, but I like it when videos are crisp.
I’d rather watch a clear video on my phone than a blurry video on the big screen. Honestly though, I’d chalk that up to how projectors work in general, so it’s not a sole flaw in The Freestyle itself.
Still, at times I found that the picture quality would dip on The Freestyle, so I had to manually adjust the focus. Which brings me to the controls.
To manually adjust the settings is easy enough, and that’s good because I did end up running into issues with not just the auto-focus but the auto-keystone as well, as helpful as they were.
But my issue lies with the remote controller. As mentioned in my first impressions of The Freestyle, the controller is finicky, to say the least.
I previously brought up how the controller would sometimes register a single output as a double one, but a more annoying problem lies in how it would completely jam up, leaving us unable to change anything on-screen.
We found a handy trick to overcome this issue, though, which is to fiddle with the volume toggle. Or just turn everything on and off again. Modern problems, not so modern solutions.
If all else fails, the projector can also be connected to the SmartThings app so you can control it from your phone.
Win some, lose some
I was actually considering getting a projector last year, but I realised I didn’t exactly have a lot of white space at home for that, meaning that my projected display would have to be pretty small. With The Freestyle, there is always the option of using it on my ceiling.
However, my worries from my first impressions ended up being true—the hinges have loosened because of how much I’ve used the 180-degree tilt.
But there is a simple solution. I literally threw money (in coin form) at the problem, and it worked. Specifically, I used a coin to tighten up the screws. So, ultimately not a big deal.
Speaking of money, The Freestyle itself retails for RM 4,999.
Just to give you an idea, a projector I was considering last year is the BenQ GV1. It’s a mini portable and wireless projector with auto-keystone and smart TV elements.
Its 15-degree tilt loses against The Freestyle, and it’s only capable of 200 lumens and an 854×480 native resolution. But it retails for RM 1,688 and that might be a worthy trade-off for some. The wireless nature of this projector was also a plus point.
While the portability of The Freestyle has been central to the product’s marketing, I find that the wired nature of it defeats the purpose.
For those who really want to use it outdoors where sockets aren’t nearby, you could still plug it into a portable charger, but that’s an extra element to carry around.
Undoubtedly, the steep price of The Freestyle might be an obstacle for some, but its numerous smart features might justify it for others.
The 180-degree tilt is certainly a big selling point, and functionality-wise, it gets the job done smoothly.
If an update from Samsung can fix the minor issues we faced with the remote and focusing, The Freestyle promises a fun time for all occasions, be it for personal entertainment or group gatherings.
|Convenient 180-degree tilt that allows for flexibility in setups
|Auto-keystone and auto-focus aren’t flawless
|Vibrant display colours and crisp audio
|Remote controller sometimes jams
|Compact size makes it easy to carry around
|Wired nature makes it less portable
|Built-in apps such as Netflix and YouTube for easy connectivity
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