ZTE Brings Auto Focus to Smart Projectors

By Tom Allen
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ZTE USA, a subsidiary of ZTE Corporation (Shenzhen, China), announced its second generation mobile smart projector.  The Spro 2 is a follow-on unit to the initial smart projector announced by ZTE at CES 2014 and introduced by Sprint in the US last July.

The new Spro 2 is said to be the first smart projector to feature auto focus and auto keystone correction. The projector has an excellent short throw ratio, a native resolution of 1280 x 720 and projects HD images up to 120″ with a brightness of 200 lumens. As a mobile hotspot, the Spro 2 supports eight devices via 4G LTE networks. The Spro 2 is a DLP-based projector with LED illumination.

Optionally, the Spro 2 will act as a mobile 4G LTE wireless hotspot, supporting up to eight devices.  In addition to the projector output, the unit has a 5” touchscreen. Other interfaces besides 4G LTE and Wi-Fi include HDMI, Bluetooth and USB 3.0.

ZTE Spro 2 at CES. Photo Credit: Maxwell R. at PhoneArena.comZTE Spro 2 at CES. Photo Credit: Maxwell R. at PhoneArena.com

The Spro 2 is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core 2.1GHz processor with Adreno 330 graphics. The system runs Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) software. In addition to its 16GB internal storage, the Spro 2 has an expansion slot for up to 2T of additional storage. ZTE says the unit has an intuitive user interface, called ZPath, which enables easy access to the projector and hotspot. Specifically, ZTE mentions ease of connection to Google Play. While the operating system is Android, the look is a closer match for the Windows 8 tiles. (I’m amused that ZTE chose a conventional projector, not a pico projector, as the image on the tile for accessing the projector. – MB)

A large 6300 mAh lithium ion battery provides approximately three hours of projection or 10 hours of Spro 2 use as an internet hotspot. With dimensions of only 5.1 x 5.2 x 1.5 inches (130mm x 132mm x 38mm) and a weight of about one pound (455g), the Spro 2 is said to easily fit in a briefcase, laptop bag or backpack.

“The Spro 2 is the only mobile projector powered by the Android platform or to include a mobile hotspot”, said Jeff Yee, VP of Technology Planning and Partnerships at ZTE USA. “You can have an impactful presentation or entertainment experience on a big-screen without planning around a destination. Instead, it’s always with you, from the boardroom to the living room or even outdoors”.

According to ZTE, the Spro 2 will be available with major US wireless carriers in early 2015.  Pricing of the Spro 2 has not been announced but the current Wi-Fi only version of the Spro projector without the 4G LTE hotspot is priced at $399.

ZTE was also showing off new mobile devices: three, to be precise. These started with the Grand X Max Plus, a 6″ phablet that is likely to see a wide level of adoption, costing only $200.

Running Android on a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, the phone’s specifications are hardly mind-boggling. It is a 4G model, but only has 1280 x 720 resolution, with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. The front (5MP) camera is a wide-angle unit for group shots. Still, despite the lack of flagship specifications, that size and price are likely to be very tempting.

The Z7 Max is a smaller (5.5″) phone with superior specifications all round – however, there is no sign of a release date yet. Resolution is 1920 x 1080, with 4G connectivity, 3,100mAh battery, 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM and a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU running Android 4.4.

Finally is the Star 2, a 5″ model that is a sort of cross between the Grand X and Z7. It has 1920 x 1080 resolution, with a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU running Android 4.4. Memory and RAM, however, are the same as the Grand X. A nice feature that we saw was a ‘Pro’ mode on the camera, which enabled level adjustments.

ZTE Z7 Max