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CES Snapshot: ZTE’s Smart Projector Gets Brighter, Better Battery Life

ZTE's frankendevice is back, with some welcome improvements.

ZTE

ZTE grabbed a lot of attention at CES last year when it debuted the Spro, an Android-based portable projector that doubles as a mobile hotspot. The company has chosen Las Vegas once again to announce the next version, and while it’s not as buzzworthy as the original, the Spro 2 offers some improvements that are worth a look.

The concept of the Spro 2 is the same. It’s a hybrid product that combines the capabilities of a mobile hotspot, projector and Android device. It is designed for mobile professionals and even families who want to use it as an entertainment device (think movie nights in the backyard). ZTE said it got a lot of feedback from its customers after the first one, and the Spro 2 incorporates many of their requests.

For example, the projector’s brightness is now doubled from 100 lumens to 200 lumens and includes an auto focusing and auto keystoning feature (the latter corrects an image whenever it becomes warped because the projector is not perpendicular to the screen). The Spro 2 can beam images up to 120 inches in size at 720p HD resolution.

Users should also see improved battery life — about three hours of continuous media streaming, which is double what I got when I reviewed the Sprint version of the Spro.

The Spro 2 is still running a customized version of Android 4.4.2, but ZTE has simplified the user interface, so it’s easier to navigate via the five-inch touchscreen on top of the projector. As before, you can get content (movies, games) from the Google Play store or load up a microSD card with your files.

I spent a brief time with the ZTE Spro 2 at a press event the other night, and the UI does feel a lot more streamlined and cleaner. Projected images looked sharp, and the auto focus and keystoning worked as advertised. But it was hard to judge just how bright the projector was, since we were in a pretty well-lit room. Despite all these improvements, the Spro 2 still feels like a niche product to me.

One other change worth noting is that the Spro 2 will be an AT&T exclusive, instead of Sprint. It will support the carrier’s 4G LTE network and can be used as a mobile hotspot for up to eight devices. But pricing and release date were not announced at this time.

A simplified interface makes the Spro 2 easier to navigate.
A simplified interface makes the Spro 2 easier to navigate.
The Spro 2 doubles the brightness of its predecessor.
The Spro 2 doubles the brightness of its predecessor.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.