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ZTE Spro 2 REVIEW: Do you really need a smart projector?

by Jacob Kleinman | May 3, 2015May 3, 2015 6:00 am PST

Getting a projector changed my life. It turned my living room into a movie theater, and my video game sessions into epic arena battles. But there are still some limits to what my little Dell projector can do, and that’s where ZTE’s Spro 2 comes in.

There’s seemingly no limit to what this smart little gadget is capable of thanks to a built-in 6,300mAh battery and an AT&T cell signal. But does one projector really need all the power? And is it worth $399 on-contract? Let’s find out.

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Design and Hardware

The Spro 2 looks great. The plastic frame is light and compact, the metal home button is nice and clicky, and the screen is sharp and responsive. The stand that slides out from the bottom seems sturdy enough. I also like that you can easily position the projector upright and watch a movie on the ceiling instead.

It’s very nice projector overall, and ZTE says it can display an image up to 120 inches across. In practice the image doesn’t look particularly big though, especially at a close or medium range. It’s also not very bright, though it doesn’t need anything near total darkness to look OK.

The built-in speakers are fine, but you’ll want to plug in something louder for most situations. Luckily, that’s no problem thanks to an audio jack in the back of the device. There’s also an HDMI port, a USB port and a microSD slot, making it easy to project pretty much anything, even if it’s not available on Android.

Everything works without a hitch. I plugged in my PS4 for some quick gaming and it worked great. Same with the Roku and even my MacBook Pro. As far as I can tell, ZTE’s projector is more than capable of handling anything you can throw at it.

For the most part though, you’ll want to use the Spro 2’s built in software. That’s what makes it a truly all-in-one device, so let’s dive into the operating system that makes this projector so smart.

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Software

Android runs really well on this device thanks to a Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM. That may not sound like much compared to today’s flagship phones, but for the Spro 2 still packs plenty of power.

You’re also getting 4.4 KitKat instead of the current Android 5.0 Lollipop release, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue. ZTE’s added its own homescreen, which offers quick access to Google apps, controls for the projector, mobile hot spot login information and your data plan. There’s also a floating projector button that’s always available at the top right of the display no matter what app you’re in, making it easy to quickly switch the bulb on and off.

One place the Spro 2 could really come in handy is at work. Need to dazzle your boss with a quick presentation? You can boot up your smart projector and fire up a slideshow with Google Slides in just a few minutes. Same with charts in Google Sheets or even a YouTube video. Of course, you can always download Microsoft’s equivalent or whatever apps your prefer straight from Google Play.

ZTE’s also included a new autofocus feature that tries to offer the clearest picture possible. It works pretty well, and always provided a crisp image in just a few seconds. Those short pauses can add up though. Tap the Spro 2 by accident, and it will stop playing as the device tries to refocus for you.

One other small complaint I have is that there’s no way to control the action while the display off, which means you have to wake it up each time you want to control the video. I wish ZTE had included a physical play/pause button as an easy fix, but like I said it’s a pretty tiny problem.

Overall, the software is very close to stock Android, which is always a good thing. ZTE tweaked Google’s operating system just enough to make sense for a projector without going overboard.

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Wrap Up

The Spro 2 is a pretty awesome device, but it’s also just a toy. You probably don’t need an Android-powered projector, especially when the dumb alternative is a lot cheaper and won’t add an extra $10 to your monthly data plan to boot. Then again, if you have the money to spare, this is a pretty great way to spend it, and we can confirm it works pretty darn well.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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