Samsung the Freestyle Smart Projector Review Page 2

With no zoom function, the PJ's throw ratio is a fixed 1.2:1. So it's a case of moving it physically into position to get the image size you want.

LED's Get Going
The Freestyle uses a Pico projector-style LED lighting system. This means you won't have to worry about swapping lamps out, and that you can power it down almost immediately rather than having to wait for it to cool. Pico projectors, though, don't customarily rival full-sized projectors for picture quality – or is this another part of the projector rulebook Samsung has torn up?

One thing that's soon evident is how bright it is. A 'casual' device like this will often have to work in bright spaces, but The Freestyle's output (rated at 550 Lumens) is potent enough to create a watchable picture in pretty much anything but direct sunlight. Colours are reasonably rich, and there's a good sense of contrast by bright room standards, especially with an image 70in or less.


Thanks to its opaque lens cover and various colour/animation options, The Freestyle doubles as a mood light

This all helps The Freestyle do some justice to HDR material. Obviously, its images provide nothing like the spectacle or light range you'd get with a good HDR TV or much brighter full-size projector, but they do have a punch and sense of depth that's beyond SDR, and manage to do this without ending up looking weird, which isn't always a given.

There's also a crisp feel to The Freestyle's Full HD presentation. Be it with Blu-rays or games, I always felt well-served in terms of texture and detail, and with a little careful tweaking of the Custom setting of Samsung's motion processing system, this sharpness didn't turn to mush during fast-moving scenes.

Getting Picky About Pixels
There are – inevitably – limitations to this smart PJ's picture performance. One issue was visible pixel structure in bright images, such as the squint-inducing daylight desert vistas in Dune (4K Blu-ray). This was more apparent when using The Freestyle to produce a relatively large image.

More significantly, its black level capabilities are very limited. You won't notice this too much in the sort of ambient light conditions it's likely to be working in, but challenge The Freestyle to a lights-down boxset binge and you'll see a pronounced grey mist hanging over dark scenes.


A range of coloured chassis skins is available

This doesn't stop the projector bringing out a moderate amount of shadow detail during moments in Dune, and Samsung could reasonably argue that The Freestyle's black levels are slightly better than those of most Pico-style projectors. HCC readers, however, need to understand that while The Freestyle is capable of being many things, its flexibility doesn't extend to a home cinema performance to rival a traditional projector.

This potentially hurts the projector's value proposition. Consumers might readily pay £999 for hardware that satisfies on movie night, but that price begins to feel slightly steep for a projector that's really all about fun – no matter how many types of fun that might include.

As for the ring speaker array, this has both the power and dispersion to make The Freestyle an enjoyable smart speaker. Movies and music benefit from a nicely rounded bottom end. Obviously, its sound appears dislocated from the onscreen events with film or game soundtracks, but this is true of any projector.

Gotta Be Startin' Something
The Freestyle's jack-of-all-trades approach limits its mastery of movies. But given its unique design, feature set and flexibility – which is limited to some extent only by your imagination – it's hard not to be seduced by its charms. This is a striking debutante in what feels like a whole new category of projector.

HCC Verdict

Samsung The Freestyle

Price: £1,000

We say: Its picture quality doesn't rival a proper home cinema projector, but The Freestyle is flexible and fun enough to become a potentially much loved addition to your home.

Overall: 4/5


3D: No 4K: No. 1,920 x 1,080 HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG CONNECTIONS: USB-C power point; mini HDMI input BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 550 Lumens CONTRAST (claimed): 100,000:1 ZOOM: N/A DIMENSIONS: 104.2(w) x 172.8(h) x 95.2(d)mm WEIGHT: 1.7kg

FEATURES: LED Pico projector; DLP device; 5W built-in 360-degree speaker 'ring'; 20,000-hour claimed lamp life; 30dB claimed fan noise; 1.2:1 throw ratio; Motion plus processing; built-in Wi-Fi (dual-band) and Bluetooth (5.2); voice control support; built in Tizen/Eden smart system with VOD apps; prismatic lens cover; smart light functionality including Ambient mode; auto focus and keystone correction; battery option for untethered use; optional skins and carry case; 30in-100in image size