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ZTE ups the Spro line in all the right ways
It’s always fun to play with a niche device. With regard to Android in general, we default to smartphones. But we shouldn’t forget that the flexibility of the platform allows for some interesting products. I was fortunately able to review such product, the ZTE Spro2 smart projector
I’m sure most of us knew about portable projectors by now, most certainly if you’ve walked by a Brookstone store in a mall. However, we’re not talking about child’s play here. The Spro line of projectors are meant to be robust, functional, and capable of keeping up with your demands, whether for work or play.
The Spro’s 2nd iteration takes ZTE’s first crack at a portable Android projector and makes improvements all across the board. It also adds 4G LTE and Mobile Hotspot capability. Let’s take a look at what you get.
When I took the Spro2 out of the box, I couldn’t help but think “high-end”. The material, construction, and heft worked in unison to straight-away justify the price tag.
Now, this isn’t a slim or light device, it comes in roughly 1″ thick and weighs about a pound. But I don’t think you want to look at it like you do a smartphone. I welcome its robust feel. I want it to stay put when I place it down. I want a great grip when handling it. Kudos to ZTE, I always love to see a well-built device.
I must mention that while promo images of the Spro2 make it appear like it has a metal build (such as those chamfered edges), it is in fact plastic. Although, it’s not a cheap plastic. I don’t get a feeling of cheapness whatsoever.
On the top of the projector, we’re greeted with modest 5″ LCD screen. There’s a single button under the screen, which I initially thought was a home button. It’s actually the power button. It has an illuminated ring on it, which is a nice touch. For software navigation, there are KitKat-style capacitive buttons under the display (Back, Home, and Menu).
On the left side, we have round volume buttons. These actually appear to be metal, and have chamfered edges as well. They shine with a high-end look.
On the right side, there is nothing but an airflow vent to keep the projector’s heat at bay when it’s fully running.
The front side contains all of the I/O. We’ll run through all the specs later. You can see that the SIM tray and microSD tray are accessible via SIM removal tool. The power input is on the left.
The bottom of the device is fairly standard. We have more ventilation, rubber feet at each corner to keep the device put, a screw hole for mounting on a tripod, and a kickstand to prop the projection up. The external speaker outputs through the bottom.
Lastly, the projector lamp is located at the rear of the device. Next to it is a sensor (more on that later), and a ZTE logo on the opposite end. These components sit behind a glass panel. Fortunately, ZTE thought to seat the glass inward slightly, in which the chassis serves as a lip to keep the glass from getting scratched.
The Spro2 comes well equipped, with smartphone-level of specs. Here’s a breakdown:
You may be thinking that these specs are yesteryear, but again, the Spro2 isn’t meant to compete with smartphones. It has the specs it needs for its purpose.
The projector itself is capable of a 720p projection. This is really the only spec that’s a bit bothersome to me. We know that the Snapdragon 800 is capable of 1080p from its past uses in smartphones. Also, the projection can reach a massive 120″ screen size (recommended max), and spreading the smaller pixel count over that larger area is not ideal.
ZTE has done a great job to provide the user options to get their content passed through. While Spro2 has its own storage and ability to stream content, you also have a HDMI port to hook up an external device. There is also a full-sized USB port to use a flash drive as a source.
Furthermore, support for Miracast is on-board, if you want to project your smartphone/tablet. And ZTE threw in wireless control of projector via an Android app.
This particular version of the Spro2 is made to be used with Verizon’s network. Access to Verizon’s 4G LTE data speeds bolsters the usefulness of the device when you’re out and about. In addition, the Spro2 can serve as a Mobile Hotspot for your other devices.
The Spro2 navigates without a hitch. It’s as fluid as you would want for basic Android navigation. Apps open and close in a snap. Web browsing and scrolling is smooth. I have no complaints on the choice of SoC or software optimization.
The projector lamp turns on quickly. There’s a permanent projector widget on the front homepage, which lets you turn the turn the bulb on/off on the fly, adjust the brightness, and turn on/off the auto-focus.
My only complaint is that the auto-focus can be finicky at times. There were a couple times it refused to focus and I had to move the device for it to try again. I don’t know what throws it off sometimes, maybe it’s the environment’s lighting. But this only happened a handful of times. Most of the time it focused spot-on, within a couple seconds.
Display and Projection Quality
The display quality is fine and dandy. 720p resolution is okay for a 5″ screen. No, it’s not the clearest and best ppi, but I don’t look at the screen and resent it. It works.
The same can be said for the screen quality. The colors are decent, they match what I would expect from an average LCD panel. Viewing angles could be better. The image slightly dims when you look at it from an angle, but I can still see what’s on the screen clearly.
The projector uses DLP technology. It is rated at 200 Lumens of brightness. Although, an important factor to keep in mind is that you cannot maximize the projector’s brightness output unless it’s plugged into the AC adapter. The max the battery is allowed to push out is medium brightness.
If you recall that sensor I skipped over in the hardware tour, that is actually to counter “keystoning”. If you’ve ever played around with a projector, at an angle the rectangular image can distort into a trapezoid (the keystone effect). The sensor makes corrections as you move the projector and keeps the projection rectangular. This is pretty neat if you’re projecting on a ceiling and want to change the angle.
You won’t find a focusing dial on the Spro2, as it has the ability to auto-focus. But if for some reason you prefer to manually control it, you can within the projector settings.
Despite being a 720p projection, I was satisfied with the image quality. Of course, you’ll have to mind the size of the projection and find a good balance. The farther you pull the projector back (larger you make the screen), the more blurry the image becomes. Brightness is also affected proportionally.
On a well-lit room, I struggled to see the image (matching the size to my 70″ TV) on the Medium brightness. Although, using the projector in a dark area is more practical. I was merely testing the limits. Switching to the High brightness, I was impressed how visible the image was.
Moving to a darker space for the real test, I got some satisfactory results. I set the projector across my room, which is about 12 feet from the opposing wall. This gave me about a 97″ image. The Medium brightness setting worked fine in this situation. The Low brightness was not ideal. I could navigate and web browse well enough, but I wouldn’t recommend it for movie-watching. The area would have to be close to pitch black for Low brightness to be a viable option.
I played a movie and the quality met my expectations. Mind you, it’s not going to blow you away with a crystal clear picture and vivid colors. But if you’ve ever seen a DLP projection before, this is on par. I could tell a bit of fuzzyness due to the stretched pixels, but not too bad. The colors with projections are on the dull side, but I at least didn’t get any discoloration or uneven imaging.
Although the Spro2 packs a hefty 6,300mAh battery, projectors take a lot of power. Therefore, ZTE rates the running battery life at 2.5 hours. However, I’m wondering if that’s at the Low or Medium brightness setting (remember that you can’t use High brightness on battery power). Regardless, I put it to the test.
I picked a lengthy movie (LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring) and set the projector on the Medium brightness setting. I tried two test runs: 1) Downloading the movie onto the device and playing until it died and 2) Streaming the movie (through Google Play) over WiFi until it died.
1) Medium brightness, no streaming:
Based on ZTE’s battery rating, I wasn’t expecting that I would have to restart the movie. I got close to 4 hours before it quit. Excellent!
2) Medium brightness, streaming over WiFi:
I got an impressive result here as well (relative to the rated battery life). ZTE may have been conservative with the 2.5 hour rating, my guess is because of the extra power LTE can pull if you’re streaming over Verizon’s network (which would also depend on the strength of the signal). And of course if you’re doing other things (such as utilizing the Mobile Hotspot feature), I can see your battery life going south pretty quickly. 3-4 hours doesn’t leave much room in the grand scheme of things.
Bear in mind that these results were with the Medium brightness setting. If Low brightness could work for you, that would stretch the battery life even further.
It is always a bummer when a new device doesn’t have the latest version of Android. But then again, a projector isn’t going to see hardcore use. Android 4.4 serves well to provide fluent, basic functionality.
ZTE of course has their own software tweaks. This is expected so that the niche features of the projector are taken advantage of. Upon powering on the Spro2, we’re greeted with a tile-style layout (not unlike the look of Windows Phones). The tiles represent apps, folders, or widgets.
Instead of Android panels, we scroll left and right through categories/tabs. The default tabs are: Home, Media, Office, Settings, and Apps. With the exception of Home and Settings, you’re able to delete/add more tabs. It can get crowded quickly, so ZTE only lets you add two additional tabs (for a total of 7).
You’re able to move tiles around to your preference, and create folders and add apps to different tabs. The exceptions are the Projector and Google Search widgets in the Home tab and the anything in the Settings tab.
The App drawer navigation functions the same as on the stock OS. The notification pull-down has added projector functions. And we have KitKat-style Recent Apps when we hold down the Menu capacitive key.
I was impressed with my time with the ZTE Spro2. It is a well-built effort for folks who have a need for a projector on-the-go. It is suitable both for work and play and doubles-up as a Mobile Hotspot when your other devices need connectivity.
However, it isn’t cheap. This Verizon variant of the Spro2 would set you back $599 (there is an AT&T version that is $100 less off-contract, at $499). But this is typically the story with niche devices. There aren’t many portable projectors out there that are this smart. Therefore, having a well-thought-out rarity such as the Spro2 can be justification enough to cough up the money, if your lifestyle begs for it.
Oh, and how else can you use Android on the side of your house?
The post ZTE Spro2 (Verizon) review: A smart projector for your on-the-go lifestyle appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Kodak’s first smartphone is here. The Kodak IM5 has been released today in the Netherlands after its’ announcement at CES 2015 in January. Available for $315 off contract, or free on contract with various carriers, this marks the Kodak’s entry into the smartphone market.
The UI of the Kodak IM5 is a bit different, as while it runs Android KitKat, the Kodak UI is simplified, aimed at consumers who are looking for “a smartphone that is easier to use than what they are currently using.” You could compare the default UI of Kodak’s IM5 to the simplified modes found on more and more Android devices across the smartphone market.
Kodak did mention that while the IM5 was released with Android KitKat, the device should see an update to Lollipop, however did not mention when users could see that update come to their devices. As for the specs, here’s the good ole’ list for you to check out:
- 5 Inch 720×1280 display
- 5MP front-facing camera
- 13 MP rear-facing camera with a unique image management software
- 1.7 GHz Octa-Core MediaTek processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 8GB of expandable storage
- 2100 mAh battery
These aren’t the most impressive specs, however, it’s not probable that Kodak was trying to fly high with the big boys with the IM5. The IM5 seems to be designed for the middle of the road or even lower end consumers that are looking for some type of entry device with a decent camera. The simplified UI could definitely appeal to some users out there who don’t want the “fancy” phones.
While released in the Netherlands today, Kodak did mention that the IM5 would become available across the globe, however it’s unknown when that statement will come to fruition. Let us know your thoughts on the Kodak UI and the Kodak IM5 in the comment section below.
The post The Kodak IM5 is now available for purchase in Europe appeared first on AndroidGuys.
The Chinese tech giant has just taken the wraps off the Neo 5 and its sibling Neo 5s. These handsets will target the mid-ranged marked and will compete alongside Xiaomi and Huawei. The all new 2015 Neo 5 offers a minimal upgrade over last year’s Neo 5. On the other hand, the Neo 5s offers pretty decent specifications for a budget-oriented smartphone.
Both the Neo 5 (2015) and Neo 5s have almost identical specifications. The Neo 5 (2015) and Neo 5s both have a 4.5 inch screen with a density of 218ppi. Both phones have 1GB of RAM and a 2000 mAh battery which should be sufficient enough to get a day’s usage.
Now the main difference between these two is the different processor. The Neo 5 (2015) is powered by Mediatek’s quad-core MT6582 SoC along with dual-core Mali-400MP2 GPU. While the Neo 5s is powered by Qualcomm’s 64-bit Snapdragon 410 SoC along with an Adreno 306 GPU. Now the presence of Mediatek’s chipset makes the Neo 5 (2015) incompatible with LTE support. On the other hand, the Neo 5s is LTE compatible thanks to the Snapdragon chipset. Both the phones have 8GB of internal storage and can be further expanded with the help of a micro-SD slot. But here is the catch, even with the presence of micro-SD slot, the memory of the Neo 5 (2015) can only be expanded up to 32GB while, on the other hand, the memory of Neo 5s can be expanded up to 128GB. Thought the added memory support comes at the cost of a higher price.
Now in the optics department, both phones include 8-megapixel rear facing cameras with an aperture of f/2.2 and 5-megapixel front facing cameras for all selfie lovers out there.
In the software department, the smartphones are both running Android Kitkat 4.4.2 with Color-OS with no official word on an Android lollipop update. Oppo also cares for the health of its users and that’s why the company is also including an eye-protection feature embedded into Color-OS, which filters out all the harmful blue light that will allow you to use your phone for a longer period of time.
These two handsets have only just been announced by the company with no official word on release dates or prices yet. But it’s safe to assume that Neo 5s will cost a bit more than the Neo 5 (2015). In my opinion, the specs for both handsets are outdated, even for the mid-range category. If Oppo aims to be in the competition, it has to learn from other companies, which are doing great in the tech industry.
Are you willing to buy an Oppo device? Let us know in the comment section down below!
Android 5.1.1 may have only been released to the Nexus devices a few weeks ago but Google is already rolling the update out to non-Nexus smartphones. We’ve already given you the Android 5.1.1 OTA links for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4 and now, the update is available for a range of Google’s Android One devices.
When Android One first made its debut, one of the biggest promises was that it would provide timely access to newer versions of Android, as Google itself controls software updates for the devices. Rather than leave the development of software to OEM partners, Android One brings stock Android and a software release program that allows Google to roll out the latest versions of Android quickly.
Android One may have been delayed in finally jumping from KitKat to Lollipop but Google isn’t stopping there and thanks to a tip, we have now gathered up the OTA Build links for the following Android One devices:
Like all images, installing these updates is something you do at your own risk but the process is relatively easy. First, place the zip file on your Android One device, then boot into recovery, select the zip file and flash it to your device. The update will install, your phone will reboot and it’s ready to use. If you’d rather wait for it to show up on your device, you can wait for a prompt or manually check for it by going into Settings > About Phone > System Updates.
Android One in video:
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The Android 5.1.1 is mainly a bug-fix update, bringing solutions to a range of user-reported problems, including the Nexus 5 camera issues that affected some users after the original Android 5.1 update. As always, Google hasn’t published a changelog but the update may also include the long-awaited fix for the memory leak issues that have affected devices running on Lollipop.
While Google itself hasn’t added new features to Android 5.1.1 for stock Android devices – like Android One devices – other OEMs have used the update to add new features to their respective devices. The update leaked for the Galaxy S6 a few days ago and the biggest changes are the ability to shoot pictures in RAW, manual exposure and user interface tweaks.
Have you installed Android 5.1.1 on your Android One device? What improvements, fixes or new features have you found? Let us know your views guys!
The relationship between Google and Nestlé remains as strong as its ever been. Google released Android 4.4 in 2013 and applied the KitKat name, a product that Nestlé owns and licenses to Hershey in the United States. Now the two are back together to replace the KitKat name with YouTube’s on more than 600,000 packages in the United Kingdom. It is all part of Nestlé’s ‘Celebreate the Breakers Break’ campaign. Also, searching “YouTube my break” on a mobile device will return results with the top four videos trending from around the world. Google and Nestlé want people to make the most of their unused time.
Come comment on this article: Google, Nestlé come together again to stamp YouTube’s name on 600,000 KitKat packages
If we tell you that YouTube is going to replace KitKat and not Lollipop, would you say that we’ve gone nuts? Well, fret not as Google is joining forces with Nestlé to launch ‘YouTube Break’ that will replace classic KitKat logo on over 600,000 limited edition packs.
This is the biggest redesign of the KitKat wrapper since the brand came to market 80 years ago. The popular chunky bars will come with 72 different types of advertisement designs and 100 million bars will be produced over the course of the campaign. Additionally, 400 limited edition bars will be produced.
As part of their joint venture, searching “KitKat YouTube my break” on phones will lead users to a KitKat video followed by a playlist of the latest top four trending YouTube videos.
“With half of YouTube views now on mobile devices, ‘YouTube my break’ is a fun way for more people to interact on the channel and enjoy the best videos available. With up to 300 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute, the top trending videos are likely to be changing all the time, making each new search as exciting as the last,” said David Black, MD Branding & Consumer Markets, Google UK said.
It is notable that the KitKat Youtube break initiative comes after Google named its Android operating system 4.4 update ‘KitKat’ after the well-known Nestlé brand.
Ah, that famous jingle, “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that… YouTube Break?” Wait… that’s not right, or is it? Apparently, Nestle and Google are teaming up for a new partnership that will see the standard KitKat bar re-branded as the “YouTube Break” for a run of 600,000 candy bars in the UK and Ireland. This marks the second time Nestle and Google collaborated on such a project, the first time obviously being when Android 4.4 arrived as KitKat instead of the oft-rumored Key Lime Pie.
This time around, the re-branding is in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of YouTube and the 80th anniversary of the KitKat bar. So we know it’s too celebrate two anniversaries, but what exactly is the connection between YouTube and KitKat? At least according to Google UK’s David Black:
It’s great to see KitKat consumers are huge fans of YouTube and, along with our 1 billion users, regard YouTube as a favourite source of entertainment. With half of YouTube views now on mobile devices, ‘YouTube my break’ is a fun way for more people to interact on the channel and enjoy the best videos available. With up to 300 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute, the top trending videos are likely to be changing all the time, making each new search as exciting as the last.
In addition to creating the re-branded candy bars, searching YouTube for “YouTube my Break” will also bring up the top four trending videos of the day, alongside a KitKat ad. As far as we can tell, the candy bar side of the promotion will not be seen in other markets like the United States, though we’ll be sure to update you if that changes.
Remember when Google teamed up with Nestle and went and named a flavor of Android after a four-fingered chocolate bar? Turns out it wasn’t the last we’d see from this unlikely partnership. To celebrate 80 years since the KitKat went on sale, the two companies announced today that 600,000 “limited edition” packs will feature the name “YouTube Break” instead of the familiar KitKat logo in the UK. According to Nestle, it’ll form just one of 72 different “breaks” that will feature on more than 400 wrapper designs. The plan is to produce 100 million packs, with the search giant only playing a small role. That said, YouTube will get involved, allowing smartphone owners to watch the day’s top trending videos with a “OK Google, YouTube my break” voice search. If you didn’t think things could get more sickly sweet, Google and Nestle just proved you wrong.
The latest distribution of Android was published earlier today and it shows that Lollipop has reached 3.3% of devices with Google’s operating system. This is an increase from January when Lollipop was not able to be registered, so it took the current version of Android about 3-4 months to become noteworthy. The most commonly found version is still Android 4.4 KitKat with 40.9% of the distribution. All of the other versions, with the exception of Android 2.2 Froyo, are continuing to fall.
Source: Android Developers
Come comment on this article: Android distribution for this month shows Lollipop on 3.3% of devices
Ever had the feeling that certain phone operating systems are more likely to crash your apps than others? It’s not just you. Crittercism has posted its latest breakdown of crash reports from about 20,000 apps, and it’s clear that certain operating systems aren’t as friendly as others. On Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) is most likely to wreck your day; KitKat (4.4) is close behind, while Lollipop’s early reputation for glitches apparently doesn’t affect apps. With Apple devices, however, the tables turn. While iOS’ app crash rate is lower overall, iOS 8 is a bit more problematic than its predecessor. That’s not surprising given that Apple hasn’t had as much time to tackle issues in 8, but you may feel better if you’re still holding on to 7.
Don’t be too quick to brag about your choice of platform. The stats say a lot about app stability, but they don’t tell the story of your operating system. A rock-solid social networking client doesn’t matter much if basic Android or iOS features are breaking down. Also, the info may be skewed by the number of active users. It’s hard to know how reliable Lollipop will be in the long run when only a small slice of Android devices are running it, after all. If nothing else, Crittercism’s figures show that stability doesn’t consistently improve or deteriorate — sometimes, it varies from release to release.
Photo by Will Lipman.