Home cinema projectors may be capable of wall-filling 4K UHD visuals, but they are rather chunky and can be quite pricey. Handheld projectors can throw up TV-sized videos and movies at a watchable resolution for a fraction of the cost, while being small enough to fit in your pocket. Nebra's AnyBeam is one such portable projector, which is pitched as the world's smallest pocket cinema projector. And it comes in not one, but four variants, including a board for a Raspberry Pi and a funky sphere.
"Projectors used to be bulky, noisy and expensive – but the laser module in Nebra AnyBeam is tiny, efficient and affordable," said Aaron Shaw of Nebra – the same folks behind the JustBoom amps we tried in 2017. "Now you can fit all the kit you need to watch movies on the big screen in your pocket. And while AnyBeam may be small, the picture isn't. These projectors can create a perfectly sharp image up to 150 inches size and beyond with absolutely no need to focus. All you have to do is find a surface big enough."
The AnyBeam standalone projector features a laser projection module that means the device doesn't need a fan to keep it cool, so it's pretty quiet. Nebra says that the MEMS technology employed here will keep the image in focus automatically, whether at 5 diagonal inches or 150.
That 16:9 aspect image is thrown up at 720p resolution at up to 60 frames per second, with 80,000:1 contrast. The projector is rated at 30 ANSI lumens, which is reported equivalent to 150 lumens of a standard DLP projector, and the lack of a bulb or LEDs should also mean that the projector will shine for ages.
The 19 x 60 x 103 mm (0.7 x 2.3 x 4 in), 140 g (5 oz) AnyBeam connects to a smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop, Fire TV stick, Chromecast and more over HDMI. There's a built-in 1 W speaker, but you'll likely want to take advantage of the 3.5 mm headphone jack for audio output to a powered speaker when you feel like sharing or ear candy for private sessions. And a screw thread underneath the housing caters for tripod mounting.
You will need to carry a power bank around for portable power though, but a USB port from a laptop will do the trick too. Power consumption is reported to be as little as 3 watts.
Another three AnyBeam options are being made available, starting with the Dev Kit. This flavor is essentially the same product as the standalone device, but without the case – allowing makers to 3D print or whittle their own housing for a truly unique look.
Next up is the AnyBeam HAT. HAT stands for Hardware Attached on Top, and is an extension board that slots onto a Raspberry Pi's GPIO header to give the Pi extra functionality. The JustBoom HATs we tried boosted audio quality and the AnyBeam HAT adds laser projector functionality.
Finally, the AnyBeam Monster Ball shapes up as an AnyBeam HAT mounted on a Raspberry Pi Zero W board and enclosed in an eye-catching 10 cm (3.9 in) diameter sphere. This one's not quite as pocket-friendly as the standalone device, but way cooler.
Nebra has launched the AnyBeam range on Kickstarter. Pledges for a standalone AnyBeam start at £219 (about US$285), a Dev Kit or HAT comes in at £189 ($245), and a Monster Ball at £249 ($325). If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in August. The video below has more.
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