Review: Samsung's Freestyle is a great portable projector with a few catches

Samsung The Freestyle projector reviewed by Daniel Rutledge for Newshub.
The Freestyle. Photo credit: supplied/Samsung

Among the wide array of projectors on sale in New Zealand is the rather unique Samsung Freestyle which sits nicely out on its own.

The Samsung Freestyle is a very small, theoretically very portable projector that offers a decent, large image despite its size, as well as a raft of cool, convenient features.

It mostly does what it says on the tin, achieving its goals of being a great little projector that's easy to move around the home, or anywhere you want to take it - with a few caveats.

With an RRP of around NZ$1700, this is a cheaper projector than Samsung's flagship models, but it's still much more expensive than an alternative by a cheaper brand that won't offer as many features.

And those Samsung projector features are really quite cool.

The good

Like most modern TVs, this thing is 'smart'; so with an internet connection you can stream whatever you want straight to it without necessarily needing another device. Netflix, Neon, Disney Plus, Plex etc - they'll all work on the Freestyle and it's quite amazing to get that cranking as a home cinema when you're in the middle of nowhere.

It's even got a little 5W speaker in it which will be good enough for a lot of uses, like when you want it to be as portable as possible. It also has Bluetooth support to connect to a better speaker system or headphones, too.

Of course, you need a solid internet connection to stream and if you're away from home you need either a power supply or a battery pack (at extra cost) to get the projector going, but it's still quite a thrill to set it up once you're in the Great Outdoors. It's nice and easy to set up outside your home for a movie night too, projecting onto a wall or something similar.

The image quality is fairly good, offering 1080p at a size of up to 100 inches. It's not going to blow you away with its fidelity, but that's not what it's going for.

Samsung Freestyle projector viewing sizes.
Photo credit: supplied/Samsung

One of the aspects that impressed me the most was the auto keystone. This takes one of the major hassles out of the setup process, along with the autofocus and auto levelling features. It means you pretty much don't have to worry about what angle it's sitting at or facing the wall from, it just sorts it all out so you have a nice rectangular image.

This was particularly useful when I was projecting onto the slanted attic ceiling of Rainsong Retreat, a lovely, quiet, refreshing getaway in Waimauku. It's only half an hour or so drive from Auckland Central, but it's one of those beautiful places that feels a world away.

Being able to arrive there, plug the projector in and have a home cinema set up in just a few minutes was a real delight.

The Freestyle has another nifty feature for people using the SmartThings app on a modern Samsung or Apple mobile phone, which can detect the colour of the wall or surface you're projecting onto - if it's not white - and optimise the image so it still looks great.

Samsung Freestyle projector smart features.
Photo credit: supplied/Samsung

The bad

I did have a few issues with this projector. A couple of times the autofocus would randomly adjust from in focus to out of focus and back again, for no discernible reason. It would only take a second, but was distracting.

The review unit I used came with a battery pack, but this is an extra $300 on top of the main unit price - so it's around $2000 all up if you want to go fully portable, although you could probably use a cheaper battery alternative.

Then you'll probably want the mini-HDMI cable, which you can get for around $10, but it'd be a bummer to realise you need it when you're already way out in the wop-wops. Note that it's a mini-HDMI cable, not a standard one, so it's less likely one you have lying around. If you're in a place with patchy internet access - or no internet access - you'll likely want this cable to access video files, or your projector might not have anything to project.

The verdict

If you want a small, light projector that's super easy to move around and quick to set up, this could well be what you're after.

There are cheaper options out there for sure, but they won't offer all the awesome smart Samsung features this thing has, and may be much trickier to manually optimise the image for wherever you are.

This is not what you want if it's destined to stay in one part of the house as a permanent home cinema, but if you get out and about a lot and want a little projector to create a big screen pretty much wherever you go, I recommend checking this out.

Newshub was supplied with a Samsung Freestyle for this review