Brookstone Pocket Projector for iPhone 4 and 4S review

Brookstone announced a new device Monday morning that allows you to project images up to 50 inches diagonally onto any surface using your iPhone. It is called the Brookstone Pocket Projector for iPhone 4/4S by Texas Instruments DLP and I’ve spent the last week using it. I’m definitely impressed by the product, which slides onto an iPhone much like any other case, but is it worth the hefty $230 price Brookstone is asking? Read on for my review.

Hardware

The Brookstone Pocket Projector is bulky but it serves two purposes. It can project an image onto any surface, or its 2,100 mAh battery can be used to charge your iPhone. The size of the device reminds me a lot of a Mophie Juice Pack for the iPhone. It’s just skinny enough to squeeze in a pocket, but for $229.99, I wish it came with its own protective carrying case to be used when the projector isn’t connected to the iPhone.

The actual 15-lumen LED-lit projector lens is on the top of the case near the iPhone’s headphone jack. It is capable of projecting a 640 x 360-pixel resolution image up to 50-inches in size. The case easily slid onto my iPhone 4S, and I liked that it had its own 0.5 watt speaker on the outside. The unit can be turned on by holding a small button to the on/off position for about three seconds. If you move the same button to the “Charge” position, it will charge your iPhone and turn off the projector.

The Good

The Brookstone Pocket Projector is amazing. You may remember when AT&T and LG launched the eXpo projector phone a few years ago. It didn’t take off because there wasn’t a whole lot that you could project and it didn’t really make sense at the time. The iPhone, however, has access to tons of video content, which means you can use the Pocket Projector to display Netflix, YouTube videos, rented or purchased movies, recorded home videos and more. If you happen to own an iPhone 4S, the projector can mirror everything that you do on your iPhone. You can use it, for example, to show off photos, browse the web and more.

The projector is very easy to use. All you have to to do is plug your iPhone into the device and turn on the projector. That’s it. An iPhone 4S will begin mirroring and an iPhone 4 will automatically start projecting whenever you open a video application. When I opened Netflix, the screen was already visible on my wall and the same went with my videos. Anyone can use the device without an instruction manual.

I loved watching Woody Allen movies with the Pocket Projector on my bedside table. It was even fun playing quick YouTube videos on my ceiling. I was able to get through a full movie just fine, and there’s small dial on the top of the unit for adjusting the focus on the fly. It’s a bit hard to do with one hand and without fumbling, so the dial could be a bit looser, but it worked.

Your friends, family and co-workers will definitely get a kick out of the projector. Everyone I showed the device to was blown away by the picture and how such a big image could be projected from such a small device.

The Bad

I don’t have a ton of complaints about the Pocket Projector. My biggest is that 15-lumens actually isn’t that bright, so I couldn’t display videos clearly with even a modest amount of light in a room. I had to close every curtain and turn off every light just to be able to see the picture. At night, however, the Pocket Projector worked great and video was clear from across the room.

I do wish it was possible to project HD video instead of a 640 x 360-pixel image, but really I found that resolution to be satisfactory. It’s incredible how powerful the Pocket Projector is for its size.

I was also frustrated by the miniUSB charging port. Most gadgets take advantage of the microUSB standard, and the miniUSB port meant I had to keep an extra charger around.

Conclusion

If you’re a business traveler with an iPhone 4S looking for an accessory that will let you display presentations in meetings or videos in empty hotel rooms, the Brookstone Pocket Projector should be a no-brainer. At $229 it’s a bit of an expensive accessory for just keeping around your house for entertainment purposes, but if you have the extra cash to spend and want to show-off the latest mobile DLP tech from Texas Instruments to friends, it’s definitely a fun and unique purchase.

TI told me that we can expect a smartphone with its DLP technology built-in sometime in early 2012, and I can’t wait to see what that’s like. It may seem that a smartphone with a projector in it is a gimmick, but now that our smartphones have access to tons of media, not to mention our entire lives, products like the Pocket Projector are more compelling than ever.

Brookstone’s Pocket Projector will be available for purchase in Brookstone stores around the country beginning later this week for $229.99.

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