Samsung has announced that the second generation of its The Freestyle, a portable projector that can beam an HD-res picture up to 100 inches, is now available for pre-order.
The original The Freestyle tops our list of the best portable projectors owing to its innovative design and great suite of built-in streaming apps, including Netflix, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video. The new The Freestyle Gen 2 adds Samsung’s Gaming Hub to the projector’s Tizen Smart TV platform, making it easy to play a portfolio of up 3,000 games from cloud gaming services such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, and Utomik using a Bluetooth game controller.
Like its predecessor, the Freestyle Gen 2 features auto keystone and auto focus, so you can get a sharp and geometrically correct picture even when projecting from off angles. A 360 degree sound feature delivers immersive audio from the projector’s built-in speakers, and both Samsung’s own Bixby and built-in Alexa voice assistants are on tap to control playback, volume adjustment, and content searches.
You can connect a portable battery to the Freestyle Gen 2’s USB-C port for power. Another option is to use Samsung’s Freestyle Battery Base ($190 / about £156 / AU$299), which connects directly to the projector’s own base and provides up to 3 hours of playback – enough to stream Avatar: The Way of Water. The Battery Base additionally provides ports for charging your smartphone or laptop, making it a high-utility The Freestyle accessory.
The Freestyle Gen 2 can be pre-ordered for $799.99 (around £630 / AU$1,299). Samsung also has a deal in the works for those who pre-order directly from Samsung.com through August 30: free shipping plus a free, IP-55-rated storage case for toting the new portable projector with you wherever you go.
Opinion: The addition of cloud gaming makes the best portable projector even better
The Freestyle was already a projector with a winning combination of design and features. Its compact, cylindrical form makes it easy to transport in a backpack, and Samsung’s accessories, which include an adaptor to plug into an overhead light socket and project images onto a table, greatly expand its potential use cases over a typical portable projector.
One of the best features of the original The Freestyle is its built-in Tizen interface, which is the same smart system found on the best Samsung TVs. While some other portable projectors feature the Android TV system for streaming, Samsung’s Tizen has a much more elegant and user-friendly look, and it offers a greater range of apps, most notably Netflix.
Adding Samsung’s Gaming Hub to the Freestyle Gen 2 makes it an obvious choice for gamers, especially ones who want to share the experience with friends in a range of environments, outdoors included. In such situations, hooking up to a PS5 or Xbox Series X gaming console can be inconvenient. But with Samsung’s new portable, all you’ll need to do is wirelessly connect Bluetooth controllers and you’ll be ready to game with a wide assortment of titles from Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, and more.
What other cool things can Samsung’s new projector do? When we caught a demo of the next-gen The Freestyle at CES 2023, one mind-blowing new feature was Edge Blending, which allows for two separate Freestyle projectors to combine and create an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio display. This presents a seriously immersive image for gaming, and with the Freestyle Gen 2 priced at just under $800, it can be had at a relatively affordable price.
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.