Sprint’s LivePro is a mobile hotspot and a projector

The best, most exciting gadget is sometimes the one you never thought would be useful until it was shoved in front of you. That’s the case with ZTE’s Projector Hotspot, which was demonstrated to us at CES 2014. The device was quietly announced alongside the Grand S2 smartphone, but was glossed over as one of those odd, pointless niche products that made little sense.

On the surface that’s still true. A Wi-Fi hotspot with a built-in projector? Sounds like a gimmick, right? Perhaps so, but ZTE’s latest toy ended up being one of the coolest, most versatile products we saw.

Updated on 07-09-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Sprint has announced that the ZTE Projector Hotspot will now be known as the Sprint LivePro. The device will be available exclusively from Sprint starting on July 11. Sprint customers can buy the LivePro for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $18.75, bringing the total cost up to $450. It will also be powered by the super fast Sprint Spark network.

It’s a quiet, unassuming box, around 5-inches square and an inch thick. On the top is a 4-inch, 800 x 480 pixel capacitive touchscreen, with a set of regular Android keys underneath. Wake up the display and you’re greeted by, unsurprisingly, an Android OS.

This isn’t a cut down version either, but full Android 4.2. ZTE calls using it a tablet-like experience, which may be stretching things slightly with a 4-inch screen, but it’s comparable to any smartphone. There’s access to Google Play, which we’ll come back to shortly, plus email, Google Drive, and all the other usual Google apps. On the side of the box is a SIM card slot, where a 4G LTE card can be inserted, turning the LivePro into a wireless hub for up to eight different devices.

Here’s where it gets cool. Content stored on any phone or tablet connected to the LivePro can then be streamed to the DLP projector. It’s capable of producing an image up to 120-inches in size. Even in the stupidly bright conditions of the CES show floor, the projection looked great. Remember we talked about Google Play? How about downloading Netflix, queuing up a film, streaming it over 4G, and projecting it onto your wall?

This is possible already of course, but the LivePro does it all in one small, easily portable box. When you’re done with your movie, you can play Angry Birds, or check your email. Oh, and inside is a 5000mAh battery, which will charge your phone or tablet if it’s connected, making it a portable battery pack too. A tour of the Hotspot’s case revealed an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and an audio output socket, plus it has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in.

The LivePro is nicely made too. Combined with the varied feature list, it feels like the next generation of ZTE hardware, something we’re very happy to see. Frustratingly, ZTE can’t provide an exact release date for it, only that it would be coming to the U.S. sometime this year. Of course, its success depends on the price, but this is also still a mystery. We love the LivePro, but enough with the tease ZTE. We think you’ll win more than a few fans with this one.

Originally published 01-09-2014

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