We often run an outdoor projector when we camp, creating a fun-and-easy entertainment spot for the family. It's always been a big hit with fellow adventurers, who inevitably wander over and ask five zillion questions about the setup.
That's how we lure them in.
Setup has always been the tricky part, though. Our outdoor projector used to require a power source, external speakers, Blu-Ray player and at least half an hour spent fiddling with focus and height adjusters. In “the nowhere” a generator is the only option, and overcoming the sound and smell is a bit of a turn off.
Best Buy recently sent us the ZTE Spro 2 Wireless projector. Honestly, when the box first arrived, we thought they had forgotten part of the shipment. The whole thing fit in a carrying pouch smaller than Chelsea's purse. “Well, that's cute,” she said dismissively, immediately judging this book by its cover.
And then I turned it on and proved her oh-so-wrong.
I love it when I get to do that. Which means I love a lot of the time we spend together. Marriage is great that way.
Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth quickly let us stream content directly and even download movies for the boondocks, without the need for any of those cords and adaptors we'd gotten used to. The outdoor projector runs on Android with a touch screen which means that the whole thing is really as easy as downloading our favorite apps, connecting our Netflix account and hitting “play.” Just like on a tablet or phone…except with way better output. I even like the weight. Unlike many small electronics with a pure plastic feel, this comes with a heft that lends itself to the days of quality production.
It works incredibly well indoors as part of our smart home setup: the boys have screened their latest favorite, 101 Dalmations, over and over and over against their playroom wall as proof. For our purposes, though, the wilderness is where it truly shines. Our on-the-road tech gear has to be easily portable and compact or it's at risk of being left home in favor of “true necessities.” Our old projector has gotten ditched a few times when we decided we were in need of a bigger med bag during flu season or a drone to film for clients.
Not this one. This projector now has a permanent place in its little case, slipped right into the back pouch of my truck seat. I mean, its the size of a small book. Literally! It's quickly become the first thing requested when unloading. For us, that's the true sign of an all-around high-performance gadget: it won a place on-the-road AND at home. Bringing the whole family together around a fire circle or the backyard swimming pool. And even though I've now watched more than 100 fire engine dogs over 10,000 times…I still love the fact that we're together.
Similar to most projectors, it performs best in dark light. Its speakers are loud enough to entertain a seated group of about twenty people, and it can easily Bluetooth connect to an external speaker. The battery lasts about 2.5-3 hours, and it throws out an automatically-focused screen ranging from 10-120″ (perfect for a spare bed sheet or the side of a tent).
Update: some of our Apple-preferring pals have asked if the projector can stream from an iPhone. The phone-to-projector streaming uses Miracast, which is unfortunately an Android-only technology as far as I know. I run on an older phone that has NO casting capability so I downloaded Amazon Video to access my Prime+Disney movies for direct streaming. If you want iTunes access as well, your best bet is to sign up for a PLEX account and download the PLEX app directly to the projector to stream or download your content directly. There's always a Lightning Digital AV Adapter if you really really need iPhone-to-projector access…though you should be fine using the built-in 12GB + expandable microSD storage space.
Have you gotten summer ready with an outdoor projector yet?