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The 4G ZTE S Pro 2 projector lets you take the movie theater with you

ZTE’s first Smart Projector launched at CES 2014, and was subsequently released in the U.S. as the LivePro on the Sprint network. Now, at CES 2015, ZTE’s back with a sequel. It’s called the S Pro 2, and it’s a substantial update on the original.

The premise is the same. It’s a small, square box — this time encased in metal — with a projector on the front, ready to stream video and content from your phone, the Internet, or any connected device. However, rather than having to plug in a media streamer like Google’s Chromecast, rely on Wi-Fi, or even use a physical media player, the S Pro 2 runs Android apps, has many connectivity options, and 4G LTE, so it can operate entirely on its own.

Updated on 07-10-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added news that Verizon is now carrying ZTE’s S Pro 2 projector hotspot.

Android 4.4 is displayed on a 5-inch, 720p touchscreen, and has been reworked to make it easier to quickly access the most useful apps. ZTE has also made it simple to activate the projector. A three-finger swipe up the screen turns it on, and the same gesture in a downward motion turns it off.

Hands on video

Improved projector

The projector has a brightness of 200 Lumens, double that of the original LivePro, and four times that of the projector built into the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. The resolution’s higher too, at 720p, while the Yoga Tablet struggles by with 854 x 480 pixels. An auto focus feature makes it very easy to set up, and no matter how much we jiggled it around, it refocused in a few seconds. It’ll also adjust the shape of the projected image depending on the contours of what it’s projected on.

Related: Lenovo’s Yoga Tablet 2 Pro also has a built-on projector

We had the S Pro 2 demoed in a hotel room, which is far from the ideal location lighting-wise, but the movie trailer that was shown looked sharp and bright. It’ll never match up to massive, dedicated home projectors in terms of quality, but for casual or business use, it looked great. It has its own set of speakers and pumped out enough sound for us to hear what was going on, but it certainly benefits from linking up with a set of Bluetooth speakers.

4G LTE and a wide range of connection options

Used as a 4G LTE hotspot, it supports eight devices at a time, plus there’s Wi-Fi, a USB port, and an HDMI port, meaning you won’t lack connection options. A Snapdragon 800 processor powers the S Pro 2, and the 6300mAh battery should see the projector last long enough to play your choice of Lord of the Rings movie. You can pick an extended version too. Rounding out the specs are a total of 16GB internal memory, and a MicroSD card slot. There’s even a tripod mount and a flip-out stand on the base.

Business folk will love the convenience, but we can see the S Pro 2 being used quite happily in the home. However, it’s so portable that it’s ideal for holding movie nights at friends’ houses, or instantly watching the videos shot on your phone on the big screen. Its size and feature list make it really versatile.

It feels solidly built, is pleasingly weighty, and the touchscreen isn’t annoyingly small. The LivePro costs $450 at contract end, although AT&T has it for $359 with a 2-year commitment ($499 without), and Verizon, not to be outdone, joined the fray with an offer of its own — $499 for the Spro 2 on contract, or $599 unlocked. Why is Verizon charging substantially more than AT&T for the same hotspot projector? Beats us. If Big Red’s the carrier you call home, though, you might want to consider prepaid options.

Highs:

  • Sharp and bright image
  • 4G LTE hotspot built-in
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Very versatile

Lows

  • Limited availability

Previous updates:

Updated on 01-06-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that AT&T will carry ZTE’s S Pro 2 projector hotspot.