Amid the COVID-truncated CES 2022 show this year, with multiple companies canceling their plans to attend the Las Vegas confab, one newly introduced entertainment-tech product stood out: Samsung’s ultra-portable, versatile Freestyle HD projector — priced at an affordable $900.
In recent years, CES has often served as a platform for high-concept, futuristic tech which may or may not make it to market. This year’s candidate on that front: BMW’s iX Flow luxury car prototype, which is covered in e-ink to let you change its colors and design with the press of a button. There’s also been the usual upgrade cycle for the latest HDTV models, and this year’s show was no exception.
Among its expected product updates, Samsung this week announced the Freestyle. In addition to being practical — and an actual product you can buy this year — it looks like… a lot of fun.
The product’s launch video went viral, racking up more than 1.2 million views on YouTube in two days. Freestyle’s debut comes as a spike in COVID is keeping many people at home and, notably, the projector comes with built-in support for the full array of Samsung’s Smart TV streaming apps.
No, the Freestyle doesn’t support 4K video as higher-end projectors do. But the 1080p HD projector delivers a sharp, brilliant picture — of up to 100 inches diagonally — on pretty much any flat surface, including walls, ceilings, tables or floors. It supports HDR10, 300:1 native contrast and a “film mode.” The Freestyle includes autofocus and auto-leveling features, to adjust its screen to any surface at any angle. It also features a smart speaker with 360-degree sound radiation.
Unlike bulky traditional projectors, the Freestyle weighs in at about 1.8 pounds (including the cradle-style stand) and measures just 3.7-by-5.3-by-3.7 inches (without the stand). The device is compatible with external batteries that support USB-PD and 50W/20V output or above, so you can use it pretty much anywhere as long as you have a surface to beam the picture onto. Freestyle supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and a Micro HDMI port.
What’s more, the Freestyle is tricked out with the smart TV features available on Samsung’s Smart TVs, with built-in streaming services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon’s Prime Video, HBO Max and Peacock. Indeed, Samsung claims it’s the first portable projector that is “certified by global major OTT partners.” The projector also supports mirroring and casting features compatible with both Android and iOS mobile devices.
It’s also the industry’s first projector to include far-field voice control, allowing owners to use voice commands (via Samsung’s Bixby or Amazon Alexa) to control the device hands-free. Another cool feature: When you’re not using the Freestyle to project video content, you can set it to run in an ambient, mood lighting mode by putting the included translucent lens cap over the lens.
And while you may or may not find this useful, the Freestyle is the first portable screen that can be powered by screwing it into a standard E262 light socket — no need for additional wiring — to project onto a table or desk.
Samsung says the $900 Freestyle is aimed at Gen Z and millennial consumers. But to me, it looks like the best pick out there for folks of any age looking for a portable, easy-to-use and (relatively) affordable projector. In the U.S., the Freestyle is available to preorder on Samsung’s site at this link.
Watch the Samsung Freestyle sizzle reel: