Samsung Freestyle: Let’s start at the end: the Samsung Freestyle projector, presented at the CES in Las Vegas in January and in Italian shops only a few weeks ago, costs 999 euros at the list price. Throw in that coffee before entering the shop, and you reach a round figure. A figure that not everyone is willing to spend, but not so exaggerated when compared to other similar products on the market, with fewer features and decidedly bulkier dimensions.
I can say this among them all because I have already tried the Halo from XGIMI. It is a great projector, with Google TV and a whole plethora of apps that can be downloaded from the Play Store inside. But it is big and clunky, cannot be tilted in any position, and needs a stand, such as a tripod, to fit on your wall if you don’t have a table or stand of the right height.
Here, with Freestyle, all this is overcome. It looks almost like an outdoor lamp in terms of shape and design, and the fact that it can be freely tilted 270 degrees makes it a more than portable tool, useful in the most diverse situations. Samsung itself points out that it can be mounted at an outlet to keep it fixed if you have a room dedicated to viewing, to save space and also use it as a piece of furniture.
Without dwelling too much on the various technical specifications for experts in the genre, it suffices to say that Freestyle has a 500-lumen LED light source and 20,000 hours of life. Running it is Tizen, loved and hated, which is the same operating system as the company’s Smart TVs. The resolution is Full HD 1920 x 1080 with support for HDR10 and HLG content, and the Hybrid Log Gamma standard has arguably surpassed 4K regarding video performance.
Taking away the purely TV-derived part, everything else is pretty much TV-like, from apps to the ability to mirror your mobile phone and even use Samsung smartphones’ DeX mode to project the computer-like interface on the wall. What’s the point? To us mere mortals, very little, but if you are a manager or otherwise a professional who needs to spout slides to colleagues, this is an excellent way to get rid of cables, mouse, and keyboard and leave others speechless. Of course, there is no lack of a microHDMI port and a USB-C port for power. With the former, you can hook up stuff like PS5 and Xbox One X and enjoy Elden Ring almost as if you were in the middle of the fields.
It’s not all rose and flowers, mind you. You can manually adjust the trapezoid that comes out, but you must spend time on it. For example, I didn’t like the way in which you can adjust the projection when Freestyle is tilted in a particular way, for example, just below the wall with the spread facing upwards. At that point, it is as if the very utility of the movable base is lost, preferring to project everything perpendicular to the wall, resting the device on some shelf. On the other hand, the Halo adjusts everything automatically, focus and orientation. Freestyle should do it too (via intelligent leveling), but I couldn’t.
The sound of un-silence
Freestyle isn’t even that quiet, but the 360-degree audio output helps to overpower fan noise. Of course, should you only use it to broadcast photos or frames in Ambient mode, it is a problem, but it is a compromise to make to access features absent elsewhere. Few customizations still promise to use Freestyle to display scenes such as starry skies and greetings messages, but it is only a matter of time. For quick access to settings and some apps, such as Prime Video and Samsung TV Plus, there is a very nice white remote control, a natural descendant of the controllers of recent generation Smart TVs.
Is it worth it?
The Samsung Freestyle is a small projector that achieves its primary goal of being portable and easy to set up. Build quality is excellent, connectivity is good, the remote control is well designed, and auto-leveling and focusing work well. Although limited to 1080p, it supports HDR, and the LED source produces bright and clear images. The Tizen operating system offers a wide choice of apps for streaming, which, added to good sound quality, complete an indeed versatile item suitable for various needs.