I’ll be the first to admit it, I whole heartedly judged pocket projectors by their proverbial covers. Someone would pitch one to me and all I’d hear was “low resolution this”, and “underpowered luminescence that” without really giving them much of a thought.
Technically speaking, that largely rings true. They are significantly underpowered in comparison to their larger projector brethren. Yet, despite that all their shortcomings the ZenBeam Go E1Z from Asus was one of the most fun devices I got to try out in all of 2017.
Let’s start off with it’s major positive and selling point; it’s size. They don’t call it the “Go” for shits and giggles, the E1Z is definitely a portable little thing that you can take with you. The entire unit is 11cm x 8cm and just a hair under 3cm tall. I’m pretty sure I’ve carried around a diabetic glucose metre bigger than that over the past 30 years and this thing is way more fun!
The projector’s housing is made from what feels to be a very rigid metal, which has a door that slides over to protect the lens. It feels robust and solid, again adding to it’s portable nature in that you didn’t worry about throwing it in a bag with you, there was none of that delicate fear so many of our gadgets seem to have these days.
It’s not the lightest projector on the market, at 307g it’s by far the heaviest either, but the majority of its weight is there for good reason playing home to the unit’s 6400mAh battery. This battery, which will power the projector for around 1.5 hours at maximum brightness (150 lumens) or 5 hours at 1/3rd (50 lumens) also doubles as a very handy battery pack that you can use to charge any of the myriad of USB devices we have these days.
Like any micro projector the output from the E1Z is by no means comparable to the latest OLED TV nor your home cinema projectors but it’s surprisingly decent (or at least it was for me). It’s limited to an WVGA (854×480) resolution and scales down full HD 1080p videos to fit accordingly but in doing so retains a crisp and very presentable image.
That projected image can be quite large too. The E1Z can project an image as small at 15″ but then impressively goes up to a full 120″ at an even more impressively short throw of just 3.5m. The image is also automatically keystone corrected, a long time pain with other portable projectors needing to have the angle just right to not distort everything you saw.
The only manual adjustment required when using the projector is focus. A small thumbwheel adjacent to the unit’s lens opening allows for quick and easy access to adjust and sharpen the image in seconds.
With a light output maximum of just 150 lumens the projector isn’t something you’re going to be rushing to use in broad daylight, but then what projector really is? Or one under $40k anyway. For what it is the tiny box does a pretty amazing job. I had it projecting 2m tall photos on a white wall in the office under scathing fluorescents in the middle of the day and the image, whilst washed, was still visible and would be more than adequate in a meeting setting for someone on the go.
…a pocket projector is definitely not something I need but I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed it and more so just how versatile and useful it was.
It’s remarkably easy to use too. Like most projectors it acts as a second screen when plugged into a laptop or computer, the only difference being that it’s done over USB instead of using HDMI or DisplayPort. This requires a small and quick install of a DisplayLink driver which is easy enough and never needs repeating. I even found a newer version that allowed the projector to work without fault whilst connected to my MacBook Air & Pro, despite the box saying it was Windows only.
The projector can also be directly connected to an Android phone via an OTG USB cable. Using the Asus ZenBeam app you can then send video and photos directly to the projector quickly and easily. You can even use the projector as your sound source if you want. Inside are a tiny set of speakers which are terrible but hey, come on, it’s an 11cm box for crying out loud! There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack too so you’re not just relying on the internals.
All in all a pocket projector is definitely not something I need but I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed it and more so just how versatile and useful it was. For someone who’s job is going to meetings and doing presentations the ZenBeam E1Z Go is an absolute no-brainer purchase in my mind. Add to that the possibility of being on the road and wanting a big screen TV with you… win, win!
For me, it was the ability to just sit in bed and project against the wall in the darkness. Sure I have a 65″ TV in the living room but when the other half is watching season 99 of whatever-show-it-is-that-I-dont-care-about then this little guy in my pocket, plugged into my phone is an absolute 120″ god-send!
It’s not particularly cheap for the privilege though. With an RRP of A$549 you could quite easily buy a decent, potentially 4K TV for that, but then you can’t put that in your pocket and you’re paying for portability over pixel density.
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