Positives: a decent Android phone with a clever little secret.
Negatives: projector isn't bright enough for use in a lit room.
Smartphones can do just about anything a laptop can. From watching movies to editing spreadsheets, most things are possible using the tiny computer in your pocket.
The only limitation is the screen size. While it's feasible to review and edit documents on the move, a phone isn't a practical way to collaborate with colleagues or show holiday photos to a group of friends.
Many phones include some way to connect to projectors or large-screen TVs, either wired or wirelessly, but every combination of phone and screen requires a different combination of cables and adaptors.
Samsung has taken a novel approach by building a video projector into the handset, negating the need for any other kit. All you need is a wall. In all other respects the Samsung Galaxy Beam is just like any other four-inch Android smartphone.
It's a neat solution. A dedicated button turns the projector on and then anything that can be displayed on the phone screen can be projected on to a flat surface – photo slideshows, games, presentations or even web pages.
The only downside of this impressive miniaturisation is that it doesn't produce particularly large or bright images. The largest image the Galaxy Beam can produce is 50 inches across, but at that size the image isn't very bright.
While a portable office projector will usually sport about 2500 Lumens of brightness, the projector in this phone shines with just 15 Lumens. There's good reason for that – projectors are power-hungry and generate huge amounts of heat, limiting what's possible in a tiny, battery-powered package.
Unfortunately, this 15-Lumens projector requires complete darkness to produce a worthwhile image, ruling it out for business presentations at which people might reasonably expect to be able to see their notebooks, or each other.
I imagine this phone could be fun at parties, and it might find a niche with business travellers who want to travel light, but for me the real excitement is that this could be a gateway device, leading to usefully bright projectors being included in a range of phones in the coming years.
If the Samsung Beam piques your interest then a small word of warning: this is actually the second phone to carry the Samsung Galaxy Beam moniker. The first version, released in 2010, is thicker, uglier and considerably less bright. Its big claim to fame is that it was sent down to the trapped Chilean miners with a message of encouragement from the country's mining minister. Presumably this was the only place on earth dark enough for the first-gen model to work well.
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