Welcome to the second part of Gear Diary’s review of the PhoneSuit Lightplay Media Projector with Android. Here, we will review the user experience and actual functionality of the PhoneSuit Lightplay. Feel free to head over to Part One of this review, where Dan thoroughly reviewed the Lightplay’s hardware and included accessories.
Before we get into the meat of this review, let’s quickly recap some of the highlights that Dan talked about in his hardware review. The PhoneSuit Lightplay is a pico projector, the size of your palm, that has Android built right in. It comes with a gyroscopic remote/keyboard combination that transmits via a USB dongle. The projector also comes with a small, flexible tripod that’s perfect for quick set up and viewing. The projector has one USB jack, one mini USB jack, one HDMI port, and one AV port.
To me, the number one selling point of this projector is the Android OS built right into the unit. Yes, the small size is great too, but having Android built into the projector really separates the PhoneSuit Lightplay projector from its other tiny competitors. Think about it: typically, when you use a projector, you have to plug in an external media player like a computer, DVD player, etc. With the PhoneSuit Lightplay, all you need to throw a movie up on the wall or screen is this nifty little device. The other advantage to having Android built in to this device is that you have access to all of the apps, movies, TV shows, and music available in Google Play store. Since the Lightplay has 8GB of internal storage, you can easily download and store a few movies or TV shows and take them with you on a trip. You can also expand the built-in storage with your own USB storage device. The Lightplay is also equipped with WiFi, so you can quickly connect to your home network and access the internet.
My experience with the PhoneSuit Lightplay has been mainly positive, although it has its quirks. I really was not expecting much, not having any prior experience with pico projectors. The video quality is excellent for such a small projector. The audio quality leaves something to be desired. The performance and speed of the built-in Android OS is not fantastic when navigating the menus, but is definitely acceptable since the projector would mainly be used for video viewing. Once the video is loaded, there are no slowdowns or hitches in performance.
PhoneSuit claims that the projector can throw video up to 80″ diagonally, however I would not recommend it. When projectors are engineered to be tiny, some sacrifices are made in terms of the strength of the light emitted from the projector. Let’s talk about lumens, really quickly. ANSI lumens are a measurement of light which has been created to rate the brightness of a projector. Per PhoneSuit, the Lightplay emits 50 ANSI lumens from its LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) display. In the simplest terms, the more lumens a projector throws, the brighter the picture is. For comparison, large Home Theater projectors emit over 2000 lumens. This is not to say that the Lightplay does not emit a bright enough picture, however you just need to dim your expectations for how large of a picture you can get. The bigger the picture, the farther away the projector is from the viewing surface, and the farther the projector is, the more light is lost and the darker the picture is. The only other issue I have with the video is that, unlike larger projectors, pico projectors do not have keystone correction. Keystoning is a distortion of the video due to the projector being at too severe of an angle to the viewing surface. So, you’ll need to make sure the Lightplay is far enough away from the viewing surface not to keystone, but not too far as to create too dim of a picture.
The Lightplay projector is able to play videos with a resolution up to 1080p. In my test, I played two separate video files from an external USB stick: Fight Club at 1080p and an episode of 30 Rock at 480p. Both videos played very well and the video performance was excellent. You are able to skip, rewind, and pause as you normally would with any video player. While attempting to play my videos off of my external USB stick, I found one of the biggest problems I’ve noticed with the Lightplay: It only has one USB jack and the gyroscopic remote’s dongle uses that slot. This means that if you want to play media off of an external USB stick, you’ll either have to forgo use of the remote and use the controls on the projector, or use a USB hub. However, both video performance and performance of the gyroscopic remote were severely affected while going through the USB hub. The video kept pausing and playing, as if it were a streaming video trying to buffer. While connected through the USB hub, the remote kept getting stuck, as if connection were constantly being lost. After my experience using a USB hub with the Lightplay projector, I would highly recommend either playing your video files directly from the internal memory or just unplugging the remote and using the on-projector controls while watching media.
Audio is a typical low point of most pico projectors, and the Lightplay does nothing to break the trend. There is a small speaker on the rear of the Lightplay projector which is decent enough, but hardly robust enough to fully enjoy a movie with its soundtrack and sound effects. If you plan on showing a movie to a large group of people, it would be best to use external speakers. However, using external speakers counteracts the point of the projector’s small size and portability.
Before I wrap up this review, I’d like to talk about the 2.4 GHz gyroscopic, motion controlled remote/keyboard for a second because it’s worth talking about. It takes a bit of getting used to, however, once you get acclimated, the remote is a very nice way to navigate the Android OS. Not only does the pointer on-screen follow the wave of your hand, it also has a keyboard on one side which works well. However, two features of the remote really stand out to me that makes me realize that PhoneSuit really gave serious thought to the design of the remote. First, the remote’s keys light up so that they can be read in the dark. Second, the remote has a flashlight on one end. Both features are great for use in the dark, which is where projectors are typically used. If you need to use the on-projector buttons, the flashlight is perfect to find the button you’re looking for. These features really add to the functionality of this remote.
Overall, I’ve had a pretty good experience with the PhoneSuit Lightplay projector. The projector did freeze at one point, and I had to call customer service to figure out how to turn the projector off. I should have realized that there was a reset button on the bottom of the unit that needs to be pressed with a paper clip, but that did the trick. I would recommend this projector to anyone who travels often and feels the need to bring along a projector. This projector would also be good for business people who need to run from meeting to meeting without lugging along a big, bulky projector. You just have to keep in mind that pico projectors are made for smaller rooms, so that you don’t go in with inflated expectations.
The PhoneSuit Lightplay can be purchased directly from PhoneSuit, here.
Click here to read Part One of this review.
What I like: Great gyroscopic remote and keyboard; Android built-in; tiny size means great portability
What Needs Improvement: Additional USB jack would be great; lumen increase would allow for a brighter screen at a greater distance
Source: Manufacturer Supplied Sample