TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Over the past few years, we've seen a number of pico projectors that are small enough to fit in your pocket and show content from a mobile device. However, Asus' new projector is the first that can connect directly to an Android phone or tablet's USB rather than using some kind of wireless connection. First shown at the company's Computex press conference, this E1Z projector has more going for it than just a unique connection; it also projects very-bright, color images and has a high-capacity battery that can serve as a portable phone charger.
We saw a demo of the EZ1 in action and were most impressed with its picture quality. Whether it was the lush green leaves on the background of an Android phone, a video being played from a Windows laptop or the rainbow-colored desktop on a ZenPad tablet, the pictures were extremely bright and vibrant. An Asus rep told us that, when it comes out later this year, the E1Z will probably provide up to 150 lumens of brightness, but that the prototypes on display maxed out at 100 lumens. Either number is very strong compared to competitors like the Lenovo Pocket Projector, which maxes out at 50 lumens.
Like Lenovo's product, the E1Z's resolution is a modest 854 x 480, which would be weak on a phone or computer screen, but looks quite decent for pictures projected onto a wall. An Asus rep told us that the device can output images that are up to 110 inches wide, depending on how far back you pull it.
The company said it will develop its own Android app to enable phone and tablet users to connect to the E1Z. However, the demo devices we used were running the DisplayLink Desktop app, which allows any Android 5.0 device to connect to a USB monitor or docking station. While the demos we saw all showed the device's screen mirrored by the projector, the Asus rep told us that users would also be able to extend their desktops and use the projector as a second screen.
Connecting to the projector via USB is much more convenient than trying to establish a Wi-Fi direct or Bluetooth pairing, but we wish the E1Z had more options, such as the ability to project content from an SD card or USB Flash drive.
With its 6,000-mAH battery, the E1Z is rated for up to 3 hours of use. If you are running short of juice on your mobile device, you can make the E1Z into a portable charger and drain its battery into your phone.
The projector has an attractive all-metal chassis, which Asus displayed in both white and chrome versions. Precise dimensions weren't available, but it seemed compact enough to fit into a front pants pocket.
Asus didn't announce formal pricing or availability for the E1Z Projector, but its product managers told me to expect it to sell for $199 to $249. We look forward to testing it further when it comes closer to launching.