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.

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.

Home Theater

Make better buds! 7 ways true wireless in-ear headphones need to improve

After years testing virtually every set of true wireless in-ears on the market, here are our most consistent gripes, and exactly what we hope to see from the next generation of wireless earbuds.
Computing

Is the Pixelbook 2 still happening? Here's everything we know so far

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Has the Pixel Slate taken its place? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Mobile

Mate 20 range now includes new 20 X model with huge 7.2-inch display

Huawei has released the Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, and Mate 20 X. With all new Kirin processors, advanced A.I. brains, and an amazing triple camera, here's absolutely everything you need to know about the new Mate 20 series.
Mobile

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Mobile

The Palm has been revived, and it wants to help you limit your smartphone usage

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. At $350, the Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon.
Home Theater

Spotify Premium cribs from Pandora with new Endless Artist Radio feature

As Pandora continues to catch up to Spotify in terms of the features it offers, Spotify is returning the favor, adding Endless Artist Radio for Premium subscribers as well as other features such as newly streamlined navigation.
Movies & TV

‘Orange is the New Black’ will end with season 7, Netflix says

Netflix has confirmed that its award-winning series Orange is the New Black will end its run with the upcoming season 7, bringing the show to an end with a final season premiering in 2019.
Home Theater

Don't need sports or local channels? Philo can save you some dough

Philo is a super-affordable live TV streaming service, with an impressive channel list and feature set. With more hardware support and greatly improved TV Everywhere features, the service is now even easier to recommend.
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.
Home Theater

Our quick-and-easy guide to programming an RCA universal remote

If you're tired of using a million different remotes in your home theater, office, or living room, you'll likely be interested in a single RCA universal remote. Here's how to program it for your system.
Deals

Time for a new TV? Grab the 55-inch Samsung curved 4K smart TV for $598

Shopping for a new TV and want to upgrade to 4K? Consider going curved: Samsung makes some of the best UHD TVs on the market today, including its unique curved lineup. Now, you can score the 55-inch Samsung curved 4K smart TV for just $598…
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Home Theater

They’re not just for gaming: Watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X

While the Xbox One S and Xbox One X boost the visuals of your games, they also can pull double-duty as Blu-ray players, but there's a bit of set up needed. Need help? Here's our guide on how to watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and X.
Movies & TV

You can ditch cable but still get your 'SportsCenter' fix with ESPN+

ESPN's streaming service, ESPN+, is finally here. Despite appearances, ESPN+ isn't a replacement for your ESPN cable channels, and it differs from other streaming apps in a few key ways.