What is a Smart Projector? (And why you'll want one)
We all know more or less what a Smartphone or a Smart TV is.
But what is a Smart projector or intelligent projector (in French)?
It is usually a portable device that combines the latest display technology with smart built-in features.
The latest generation connects to:
- your mobile devices
- your home network
- your streaming content services
You'd be amazed at what the right projector can do for your viewing experience.
Read on to find out why smart projectors are on the rise. Or take a look at the Pocket HD , an example of a next-generation smart projector.
Smart projectors make your life easier in many ways. They are portable enough for outdoor parties. They stream images directly from your phone. New technologies allow them to shine permanently, instead of fading over time.
Smart Projectors are capable of doing everything a Smart TV can do, but on a much bigger screen. These projectors are defined by their portable design, lampless technology, voice control, app integration and streaming functionality.
Many projectors claim the title "Smart Projector". But "smart" means more than just a built-in computer. It is therefore important to know what to look for when buying a Smart Projector. Considering what you're going to use it for, you'll get the right combination of features.
Smart projectors are much smaller. The smaller ones weigh no more than a kilo, and can even fit in your pocket. Home entertainment projectors are much larger but still offer a portable design. Usually through a handle.
In what situations will you use your projector:
- Moving ?
- On your coffee table?
- Outside ?
Make sure it has enough lumens to do the job.
Knowing exactly how you are going to use a projector makes a big difference in buying the right device.
The advantage of the Smart Projector: its portability
LED light source
- Smart LED Projector:
- Traditional bulb projectors
Darken over time, have a very limited lifespan resulting in high maintenance costs.
Smart Projectors stay bright. Second generation LED projectors are now available, combining red, green and dual blue light sources for increased color saturation and brightness.
LED technology avoids dimming problems of projectors, which
keeps smart projectors bright for up to 20,000 hours. It runs much cooler than bulb light sources (meaning less fan noise).
They are also environmentally friendly. Without a lamp, no glass bulbs are needed, which means there is no mercury.
The advantage of the Smart Projector: Constant brightness
Smart projectors have much smaller form factors than standard projectors. The resolution is therefore the first criterion to be taken into account. For those who love camping and just want to have fun by the campfire, a lower resolution is fine.
Mini projectors struggle the most with resolution. But not all Smart Projectors suffer from poor resolution. FHD smart LED projectors are now on the market. If home entertainment is your preferred use, go for FHD resolution. The most high-end Smart Projectors are called "True FHD" projectors.
This means that the image does not use any scaling technology. Rather, it's true FHD: native 1920x1080p with 2.07 million pixels. Smart Projectors offer a lower cost per inch (compared to a Smart TV) without compromising picture clarity.
The Smart Projector Advantage: True FHD Resolution
Lumens measure the light output of a projector. Smart projectors generally use LED light sources. Thus, Smart Projectors often mention LED lumens. See the attached white paper for the difference between ANSI lumens and LED lumens.
The brighter the room, the more lumens you will need. Dark rooms need fewer lumens, allowing you to focus more on other specs (like contrast). Look for a contrast ratio of ≥ 3000:1 for dedicated home theater projectors. To learn more about contrast ratio, click here.
Advantage of Smart Projectors: Highly saturated colors provide a better image.
Your projector is as smart as the apps running on it. So it makes sense to enable an app store on your projector. Does the projector you are considering buying have an app store?
To work with apps, activate voice commands and stream movies (all at the same time), look for a smart projector with sufficient processors, memory and storage.
Smart Projectors are a smart choice because there is no need to use additional devices to stream entertainment. Of course, they easily integrate with most devices.
Advantage of Smart Projectors: integrated application store
In addition to the built-in App Store, voice control is another thing to consider. No need for a remote anymore. Simply turn your projector on or off by asking Google or Alexa to do so.
If you love streaming, look for a Smart Projector that connects directly to your phone or laptop. If the projector mentions Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you're in luck. Make sure the technologies between the two devices connect. Some Smart Projectors go even further. They allow you to turn your smartphone into a remote control.
Gone are the days of having to mount a projector to the ceiling. Smart Projectors offer better options. "Short throw" is important if you want to stream directly from your coffee table. The "ultra-short throw" allows you to place your projector flush with the wall you are projecting on.
It is important to know exactly how far you can place your projector from the screen. Make sure your room meets the recommended throw distance for your projector.
The advantage of Smart Projectors: No need to fix it to the ceiling
Other smart functions
Once you've decided which Smart Projector features are most important to you, there are other smart features to help you make your decision.
Autofocus and auto keystone correction
Autofocus is a really smart feature. It lets your projector do the work for you. A small motor rotates the lens to obtain a sharper image. The Auto Keystone function is very useful, especially when your viewing angle is optimal. Again, Smart Projectors are able to do the work for you.
Most Smart Projectors have to compromise on sound. It's the only way to fit all the components in such a small form factor. If you don't already have a high-end sound system built into your home theater, go for high-end speakers.
What's great is that you don't even have to watch a movie to activate the sound! Thanks to Bluetooth, you can read your phone's messages, talk with Alexa or turn movie night into a dance party.
Sometimes a stack of magazines is enough. But if you don't have a bunch of them lying around, you'll really appreciate having a height adjustment stand. Look for a two-tier adjustment bracket that offers up to 130 degrees of offset.
Ports and connections
Ports and connections are important if you're not streaming from your phone. HDMI 2.0 connections offer better support for FHD HDR content, and USB-C connections let you charge your phone while mirroring your screen. (Make sure the host device supports video transmission via USB-C for screen mirroring).
USB Type-C streaming
Why watch on a smartphone, when you can watch something on the big screen? Of course, you can use Wi-Fi. But sometimes your connection is too slow. USB Type-C streaming lets you play content directly from your phone.
Of course, this only works if your phone allows USB Type-C streaming. iPhone and iPad users must purchase an Apple-authorized Lightning to HDMI cable adapter.
The Screen Mirroring feature allows you to instantly project your phone onto a large screen. This is a significant improvement for those who already have a lot of content on their phone.
Not all Smart Projectors are optimized for mirroring content from your smartphone onto the large projection screen. That's why it's important to make sure your Smart Projector works with the 5G Wi-Fi band.
Looking directly into a projector is not recommended. But sometimes these things happen. That's why there is eye protection. Using a built-in ultrasonic sensor, the smart headlamps turn off when something gets too close to the lens.
The last thing you need to look for is frame interpolation technology. Sometimes abbreviated as MEMC (Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation), this feature smoothes rapidly changing images in the video processing stage.
Intermediate frames are generated between the actual frames, in order to increase the perceived frame rate. Especially useful in sports, frame interpolation lets you capture the finest details on the big screen.