While companies like Sony and Epson strive to bring giant movie theater-caliber projectors into the home, Philips is taking the opposite approach with compact alternatives that create big images from smaller hardware, like its new 1080p Screeneo U4 ultra short throw that looks no larger than a shoe box.
If you’re serious about permanently switching from a television to a projector in your living room or home theater, ultra short throw projectors are a more convenient solution, as there’s no risk of anyone getting up for a bathroom break and being blinded by a bright beam of light emanating from the back of the room. One drawback to going the ultra short throw route is that those projectors are usually very large and very expensive, but the Philips Screeneo U4 is neither.
Weighing in at three pounds and measuring just 8.8 inches on its longest side, Philips claims the Screeneo U4 can project an image 80 inches in size from a distance of about 12 inches from a wall, or a 60 inch image from just 7.7 inches away. However, one of the most important projector metrics is lumens, or how much light it can actually throw onto a wall or a screen. For the Philips Screeneo U4, that’s a somewhat disappointing 400 lumens, which means that for a decent level of contrast and brightness, you’ll really only want to use it in a dark room if you’re hoping to get a 60+ inch image.
Many compact all-in-one projectors now ship with Google TV and wifi so that, out of the box, they can access content on all the major streaming platforms. The Screeneo U4 does not, and instead encourages users to opt for a streaming dongle, like a Chromecast, for one of the projector’s two HDMI ports, which can draw power from the single USB port situated right next to them.
A pair of 15-watt speakers are built into the Screeneo U4, which is another advantage to using an ultra short throw projector that sits at the front of a room, but users can also opt to connect wireless headphones, or a pair of wireless speakers over Bluetooth, assuming they’re okay with a little lag between the audio and what’s happening on the screen. Other features include a built-in camera, allowing the projector to automatically correct focus and make keystone corrections, and an LED light source that promises 30,000 hours of use.
Philips is going the crowdfunding route to bring the Screeneo U4 ultra short throw projector to consumers through Indiegogo (the usual crowdfunding warnings apply here, although the risk is minimal given Philips has been around for 130 years) and its best feature is without a doubt a 50% discount for the earliest backers, which brings the price to around $630. That makes this one of the cheapest ultra short throw projectors you can buy, and a tempting upgrade assuming you get in on the discount. With a full price that will be well over $1,000 after shipping starts in August, you’ll probably want to opt for a projector with more lumens than the Screeneo U4 offers, even if you have to sacrifice the convenience of its ultra short throw functionality.