Under the Radar

Bring the Party With You: Optoma IntelliGO S1

A portable digital projector could be the perfect on-base entertainment solution.

The Optoma IntelliGO S1 LED projector is portable and can throw an image up t0 150" diagonal in 720p resolution.  It's tiny (6.2" L x 4.72" W x 1.22" H), weighs less than a pound and runs Android, software which can give you access to many of the best streaming apps right out of the box.

Check out a photo of the projector with its carrying case and a soda can for scale:

If you're stationed anywhere in the world, this thing could make you incredibly popular on movie night. The picture is great and it sells for around $450, around the price of a far less portable flat-screen TV.

The IntelliGO S1 is incredibly good at some things and not-as-good at a few others, but there are efficient workarounds for those.

Incredibly Good

Audio: The projector has Bluetooth 4.0 built in, so you can connect it wirelessly to any Bluetooth speaker. Or you can plug it in to a sound system or speaker with an audio cable if you don't trust/have bad luck with Bluetooth.

Wi-Fi: There's built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n 2.4Ghz/5Ghz connectivity that works as advertised. Set it up once on your network and it's stable.

Built-in USB drive & MicroSD card ports: If you have a collection of movies or TV shows downloaded from the internet, you can plug a hard drive or flash drive into the USB port and watch them using the projector's media player software or use a third-party player like VLC if you download it from the Aptoide open source app store.

Kodi: We're probably not supposed to talk about Kodi, the controversial media player, but people who know how to use it to obtain access to all kinds of "unofficial" streaming content will be glad to know that you can install it on this projector.

Downloadable streaming apps: IntelliGO S1 users can install Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Showtime, Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube and many others familiar to Roku and Apple TV users.

Remote: The projector comes with an excellent remote that gets the job done with the built-in software.

Not-As-Good

Android: Android lovers will tout its flexibility and the ability for users to customize the software in ways not possible with iOS or Roku. That's also the problem for those less inclined to futz with their device. The Aptoide store is an open-source alternative to the Google Play store which means that apps which require Google Play lose some of their functionality.

Point-and-Click: The projector uses a mobile version of Android and many of the apps expect you to be using a touch interface. You'll want a wireless mouse (and possibly a wireless keyboard) to use with a few apps.

AirPlay: Apple's AirPlay is built into the projector, so it's easy to share the screen from a Macbook, iPad or iPhone. What you can't do is stream movies or other video from the Apple device. This makes it great for work presentations but useless for entertainment purposes.

A Solution:

The IntelliGO S1 comes with an HDMI port. If the Android versions of your favorite apps aren't as easy to use as you'd like, plug in a Roku or an Apple TV and just use that for your entertainment needs. You'll probably already have one on hand if you're hating those Android versions.

Neither Roku or Apple offer an LED projector and the IntelliGO S1 is an excellent product for the price even without the software capabilities.

Also, you can always plug a DVD or Blu-ray player into the HDMI port for even more options.

There's no battery here but, seriously, there are few electronic devices that are going to suck down as much power as a projector. Having a battery would just disappoint.

The software issues are really issues with Android. If I ran a projector company, I wouldn't risk my company trying to build my own software platform and open-source Android is pretty much the only viable option at this point. A future projector with software adapted from the built-in Roku software that comes with TVs now would be a killer but the Android thing is not a deal breaker for me and some users may actually prefer it (if they have a mouse and keyboard handy).

There's a touch panel on top of the projector for times when you misplace the remote and an Ethernet port if you don't trust your WiFi network. The included carrying case is sold and has compartments for the projector, the power cords, your remote and any flash drives or Micro SD cards you want to bring along. You can probably fit a portable hard drive in the side pocket.

Should You Buy One?

There's something amazing about a giant image projected on a wall and the IntelliGO S1 gives a great image at a cost that's about the same as a 48" 4K TV. This is perfect for watching movies and sports with a large group and it's easy to carry with you anywhere in the world.

You've got plenty of input options if you're not a fan of the built-in Android software and you're all set if you can work through its limitations. Anyone who grew up with noisy, clunky and expensive home theater projectors will be amazed at the combination of quality, size and price on offer her.

 

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