The ZTE Spro 2 is one of those unusual hybrid devices that just made sense — it combined a projector with a 4G LTE hotspot, a whopping battery pack, and a sensibly sized touchscreen, making it a cool entertainment all-rounder. At ZTE though, bigger is better when it comes to the Spro range, and it has introduced the Spro Plus.
If the Spro 2 was a smartphone in disguise, the Spro Plus is a tablet. On the front is a massive 8.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, ensuring it keeps up with all the high-end tablets already on sale. The big difference between it and others is that it has a projector built into the oversize body. The Spro 2 made do with an LED lamp, but the Spro Plus uses a brighter 500 lumens laser to project its image, resulting in a better ratio and improved visibility regardless of the room conditions.
How big’s the projected screen? ZTE says it’s 80 inches wide from a distance of about 3 feet, with a 720p resolution. Sound can be provided by the Spro Plus itself, using a JBL-developed audio system played through a pair of 4-watt speakers. The Spro Plus is powered by a Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM. It comes installed with customized version of Android’s 6.0 Marshmallow OS and complete access to the Google Play Store. That means you can download Netflix (or your streaming media app of choice) and throw the image up on a handy screen or wall.
To do that, you’ll need a data connection. The Spro Plus will come as either a Wi-Fi or 4G LTE model, so there’s no need to burn through your phone’s data allowance. Media doesn’t have to be streamed either, as the Spro Plus has 32GB of internal memory plus a MicroSD card expansion slot, so it’s ready for an additional 128GB. Finally, its 12,100mAh battery means you won’t even need a wall socket to project your movie; it will provide up to four hours of use before running out.
While it seems to project just fine, the entire projector seems to run incredibly hot. Granted the demo units had been on and plugged in for quite a while, I still didn’t enjoy feeling that kind of heat while using the display. There was also a considerable amount of lag when simply swiping between home screens, and while ZTE says it’s running a customized version of Marshmallow, all the demo devices were running Android 4.4. It’s unclear if they just hadn’t been updated yet.
The stand at the bottom of the projector seemed a little flimsy and didn’t exactly provide the best support, as you needed good balance to get the device to stand up. Even then, it’s hardly pointing any higher than it was flat. The tripod on the other hand was pretty decent and felt well-desinged, offering relatively strong support for the projector.
Thankfully, the projection seemed to be the best part about the device. I was impressed at its clarity and color balance in dim lighting at its projected size.
ZTE is promoting the Spro Plus to business users, and has included voice control through Harman-produced microphones as well as USB camera support for conference calls. The Wi-Fi version of the Spro Plus will be sold globally through ZTE’s website before the summer, with the 4G LTE model joining it sometime afterwards. The Spro 2 was sold through AT&T and Verizon, so here’s a chance the Spro Plus will get a network version in the future. The all-important price hasn’t been announced, but with the Spro 2 costing upwards of $500, don’t expect it to be cheap.