Aside from the toy that nibbled your finger, the product that captured most of the attention across my TV, radio and online stories during CES 2022 this month was the Samsung Freestyle Projector.
Out of nowhere Samsung announced a product at an event many other companies simply ignored due to Covid concerns. Yet it seems to me Samsung’s big and in-person strategy for CES paid off in spades.
Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long to get my hands on one, and even better the product absolutely lives up to the hype.
Available for you to buy from next week – February 7, at a price of $1,299 it’s got the ability to change the way you think about movie nights, how you look at the empty spaces on your walls and for many, a decision about the actual need for a TV at all.
This is not an indoor projector. This is not an outdoor projector. This is not a portable projector. It’s all of those things.
Now it’s not the best quality projector on the market. Full HD resolution not 4K, The brightness isn’t best in market by a long shot but at 550 lumens it looks bloody great in solid low-light.
But if you have concerns about such things, you’re not the market for this product.
How big can the Samsung Freestyle Projector Image be?
The Samsung Freestyle Projector is a Samsung TV that you can take anywhere, position anyhow, and could be a 30 inch screen or a screen over 100 inches.
Fascinatingly, Samsung themselves market the Freestyle as a 100 inch projector. But I’ve been pushing it up on a screen at 115 inches and know full well it could do more. I guess the bigger you go the more likely compromises you make in terms of brightness and quality, but in the dark of night – I’m not seeing anything that disappoints me about the picture.
How do you power the Samsung Freestyle Projector?
Drawing power from USB, I hooked the Freestyle up to a mega power bank. Packing something like 26,000mAh of power I suspect it would have made it through 2.5 hours. After 2 hours of Tennis on Saturday night the power bank was down to 16%.
If you’re camping, that’s a nice evening movie. But how you recharge that battery for a second movie night I don’t know.
More likely, the Samsung Freestyle is going to be plugged into mains power, just for peace of mind. The battery option is there if you want it, you’ll need to spend a couple of hundred on a decent one to pair up with the projector.
Freestyle Sound Quality
Sound is built in, with small speaker holes around the “base” or “back” of the unit. This pushes sound out all ways, and while it’s a little thin, there’s no issue with volume for a bunch of people huddled around.
If you want to really enjoy the experience, grab your Bluetooth speaker, pair it up in the settings and boom – this becomes one hell of an experience. I used the JBL Extreme, and I don’t think I pushed it past 20-30% volume and it was a cracking experience.
What can you project it onto?
You can point the Samsung Freestyle at anything. A blank wall, a brick wall – of course, the projector doesn’t care. But for a decent viewing experience, you want a white wall, for the optimal experience a dedicated screen space could easily be created with a more projector friendly paint or surface, or even a projector screen.
For a backyard movie, a bed-sheet will do the job, but the Auto-Focus and Keystone will go mental in even the slightest of breeze.
I bought a fold-up projector screen on Amazon – just fabric, but it doesn’t crease like a cotton sheet, and has eyelets so it could be hooked up to screws or hooks with ease.
Using cable ties we attached it to light stands and a frame I had, making the ultimate backyard cinema setup in my view.
And if you’re worried about where to put the Samsung Freestyle in relation to the wall, projector screen or ceiling you’re looking to watch on – the smarts of this thing are simply phenomenal – it literally “just works”.
It’s the 180 degree tilt movement possible thanks to the design of the Freestyle that makes it just so easy to setup.
Auto Focus and Auto Keystone Adjustment on the Samsung Freestyle Projector
Key to the real value of the Samsung Freestyle is the automatic adjustments it will make to ensure you’re getting the right picture.
Is it sitting on an angle? No worries, image will be automatically levelled.
Are you projecting upwards to the wall, or sideways across a wall? No problem, like magic the Digital Keystone Adjustment corrects the picture so it’s squared off as if a TV was mounted in the place you’re watching.
And no matter what distance you place the Samsung Freestyle, the focus is bang on.
I noticed the auto-focus most when we tried using a bedsheet from the clothes line. As the wind blew, the focus would work hard to adjust. Terrible to watch, so if I was going to do that, I’d put the Focus mode to Manual.
Can I watch Netflix on the Samsung Freestyle Projector?
Yes, Yes and Yes.
THIS is where the Samsung Freestyle stands tall, well above anything at all similar.
As soon as you turn it on (and connect to WiFi or your phone’s hotspot), it’s projecting an image, and you’re watching content.
The Samsung Freestyle Projector has a Samsung TIZEN Smart TV interface built in. It’s not the interface I’m used to on a Samsung TV, but it’s pretty bloody good. It’s strange because you don’t have a fall-back content to go to when hitting that home button. The menu system is full-screen, instead of lower third, so you lose what you’re watching – and streaming apps like Stan don’t play picture in picture within the menu.
All the apps you expect are there, plus mirroring from your smartphone, including Airplay for iPhone uses. Yep, Airplay from your iPhone – this really is the projector for the mobile generation.
What’s wrong with it?
Just one thing. Speed. The response from the device to commands on your remote is slow and laggy. Launching Stan and navigating the top menu of the app was frustrating as all hell. You need to know it’s going to be slow, and click slowly.
Even the main menu is slow, it’s not just third party apps.
A faster processor or more memory is what this thing needs.
Is that a deal breaker? Absolutely not. Just know its there, and would surely be a priority for the second generation device.
Is the Samsung Freestyle Projector Value for Money?
Well, first up, when it was announced three weeks ago, it was going to be $1,499. Now it’s listed at $1,299. So that’s a win straight up.
For this money, you can buy a high quality 50 inch TV, or a mid-range 70-75 inch TV. Now, those are big screens. But they’re also fixed in place.
You can’t make the picture 100 inches. You also can’t take it to a mates place.
Or setup in the backyard.
Should you buy the Samsung Freestyle Projector?
I chose the perfect weekend to test this out. Ash Barty’s Australian Open Final appearance and subsequent win was a great chance to invite people around, put some sausages on the BBQ and enjoy the Tennis on a 115 inch screen.
It took well into the first set before it was good to watch – the evening sunset really lingers, and with a projector you really need almost complete darkness to appreciate it. But in fact, that wasn’t the point. The point was the enjoyable social experience, the tennis was just a bonus.
By the time the match was well underway, it really was an outstanding way to watch.
This is a cracking gadget, a great screen – I suspect it’s the first product of the year to trouble the judges in the annual EFTM Best Awards. I utterly love it.
And judging by the reaction of my wife, my family, my friends and the response on social media – not only will this one be getting a regular run in our household, but they’re going to sell like hotcakes.