When it comes to projectors I usually think of big bulky units that dangle from a ceiling or sit on a post in middle of the room. However quite recently projectors have been getting smaller and falling under the name of pico projectors. A breed of small, easy to carry around projectors. This one is different though and that’s because unlike most other projectors of this type it can be used on its own thanks to its built-in Android operating system and the two included styli that make any surface this is projected on a large touchscreen. Of course like any other projector, it can also be used to project external devices onto a wall or projection screen.
The Pond as I mentioned above is a pico projector which is small enough to fit in my palms with only a slight overlapping. It’s a square shaped projector that manages to look really nice wherever it is set up. At the back of the projector are four ports, a MicroUSB port for plugging USB devices into, a mini HDMI port for HD devices, an audio out port and a DC in port. Don’t worry if you need to a hook a device up with a standard sized HDMI lead as the company have included an adapter in the package which means you can hook a device such as a games console up to this projector. The right-hand side of the projector is home to the power switch and focus adjustment dial. The left-hand side is home a status LED light and the front is home to the projection lens and a sensor for the styli. The shell of the projector is made from plastic and has a smooth matt finish to it.
You get two styluses with this projector so two people can use it together as soon as you buy it and if you want to buy more, up to 4 people can use the projector at once with the styluses. The styluses are made from metal and are powered by two batteries each, without the batteries in they are quite light, but as soon as they are installed you can feel the weight. The overall quality of the styluses is quite good, but I did notice the ink for the writing on the styli has started to rub off after a bit of use. In terms of how well they work, I would call it 50/50, while they do work well, they can be very awkward to use as you have to ensure the infrared light is in line with the sensor on the front of the projector, which in certain cases can be a bit difficult. I have often found myself having to stand sideways to the projector to get a good reaction from my touches on the surface.
As well as the styluses you also get a remote control with this and I must say it’s quite an impressive controller, it can be used to control the projector while sat down and navigate the Android OS. It also has an air mouse feature that uses Bluetooth to enable the projector to track the movements of the remote in the air, which give the projector a precise location which then appears as the mouse pointer on the projection. This is a fantastic feature and throughout my use of the projector I have found it to be very accurate with next to no errors at all.
Due the small size of this projector I have found a small camera tripod, a brilliant way to adjust the height to suit the needs of the projection, however if you are using it as a classroom aid in a school that caters to young children, such as a primary school or nursery, then the height is already perfect without the need of a tripod. I myself use it both on and off of the tripod as I have a young son who likes to use the drawing apps on the Play Store.
Software, performance and hardware:
While most projectors are essentially just a middle man between an external device such as a console or DVD player and a large screen surface, this one is an all in one as it has its own built-in Android 4.4 O.S with full access to the Google Play Store for a tonne of entertainment including games, movies, books and educational applications. This even gives you the opportunity to to install Netflix from the Play Store and set this little projector up as part of a home theatre system. Something I really love is that thanks to the stylus system playing games on here is no longer as limited as it is on other Android projectors such as JmGO G1 which I also own, while that’s a brilliant projector in a completely different class to this one, playing games on it was just not as fun as it is playing games on the Pond. However playing games on the pond does have a few limitations, for example, there’s no gyroscope so games that require tilting of a device are obviously not compatible here, there’s also no microphone built in so again this presents an issue for any games that may use a microphone. Last but not least on the gaming section is that even if a game is touch screen only, this isn’t necessarily a great platform to play just any touchscreen game on, due to the fact the stylus will require a constant uninterrupted signal with the sensor on front of the projector, so games where you may have to walk about in front of the surface a lot are going to be a pain to play on here.
The OS itself is very much Vanilla Android at heart and you can easily see the resemblance between the U.I on the Pond and the U.I of a Nexus tablet. There’re a few small tweaks on top such as a sidebar that is touch friendly for entering settings quicker, turning the projector on to standby mode and collaborating of the styli. Above all, it really does just look like a huge Android tablet is being projected onto a surface.
Of course, this projector can still act as a middleman between an external device and a surface. I have used it with my PS4 and had a fantastic time playing my PS4 projected onto my 90 inch pull down projection screen. Now while this is officially only supposed to project up to 80 inches, it does actually fill up my projection screen. Of course, there’s one downside to hooking a PS4 up to this and it’s, of course, the resolution, unfortunately, in any mode, this projector lacks HD resolution and the resolution it comes in at is a measly 854 X 480, a resolution that was good on mobile phones six years ago, but by today’s standard is fairly weak. However, it’s still fun to play and would make an awesome way to play some multi-player games with friends or family, just remember not to expect awesome graphics.
When using the projector in Android mode the resolution doesn’t create too much of an issue, it’s still the same 854 X 480 resolution, but it looks clear and is very easy to get on with. The image is so clear it actually surprised me, while it’s not ever going to be great, it’s certainly good enough for applications, games and having fun in an educational setting.
In terms of under the hood specifications, this would be a typical mid-range device if it was a phone or tablet. Here’s what’s hiding inside the Pond. (No fish)
- 1.6 GHz Dual Core Cortex A-9 CPU
- 1 GB DDR3 Ram
- 4 GB NAND Flash Memory
- 16 GB Built-In Micro SD Card
One thing to note is that combined both the NAND and built-in MicroSD card give you an end user total of 18 GB of memory. It would have been nice to have a MicroSD slot, but unfortunately, there’s not one present here, so space can be become full very quickly. That said there is a USB adapter included to transform the MicroUSB port into a standard USB port. This means you can expand the memory if need be using a USB stick or simply host your files from a USB stick.
Despite these mid-range specifications, the projector does a great job in terms of performance, although it does suffer occasionally from slight lag, which is pretty much down to the 1 GB of ram used.
The small size of this projector isn’t the only thing that makes it truly portable, there’s also a built-in battery capable of providing up to 2 hours of use, however in battery mode the projector switches from 80 Lumens to 50 Lumens so brightness is affected slightly, in order to get the best from the battery. I have tested the battery in both Android mode and with my PS4 connected. In Android mode, I managed to squeeze about 2 hours from a full charge, while with my PS4 connected I managed to get about 1 and half hours. Despite seeming like a low amount of a time, this is actually pretty decent as it means you can literally turn any surface, anywhere without a plug socket, into a touch screen. Of course, if you prefer you can use it plugged in and get the full 80 lumens.
In terms of sound, the Pond does have a built-in speaker, however, it’s nothing special and has a relatively low volume, however, thanks to an AUX port and Bluetooth connection you have two choices that allow you to connect a louder external speaker to the projector. I personally have connected it to my Pure Jongo T2 via AUX cable and now the sound is incredible.
With the Pond, you get a few accessories to start you off. These are:
- A Carry Case
- 2 X Styli
- A Remote Control
- A Travel Adapter
- A HDMI To Micro HDMI Adapter
- A USB To MicroUSB Adapter
- 6 X AAA Batteries For The Styli And The Remote
This is a brilliant bundle and I particularly love that you get two styli to start you off, usually, things like this only come with one input device. Having two right away means you can have two people using this at once and if you do need extra styli you can purchase them from Touchjet’s website.
A brilliant projector that can literally turn any surface into a touchscreen up to 80 inches in size. It’s an amazing device and I have been having so much fun with it. Of course, as with any product, there are a few issues that can be a bit of a pain, such as the awkward styluses that require a constant line of sight with the projector, the low resolution and the built-in speaker which is frankly no good. However though the pros do outweigh the cons and this is one really fun to use projector that can be used in many different settings such as the home, an educational establishment, and even an office.
DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free in return for my honest and unbiased review. This has had no effect on my overall opinion of the product.