Aug 19 AT 7:54 PM Brooks Barnard 0 Comments

ZTE Spro 2 smart projector first impressions

ZTE Spro 2-2

When offered the opportunity to review the ZTE Spro 2 smart projector, I jumped on it. Isn’t Android and Me an Android site, though? Yes it is, my friend. The Spro 2 runs Android in a way that’s very familiar way to all of us Android fans while being hardware that is mostly unique in the Android world. It runs Android, it has a 6,300mAh battery, it’s a mobile hotspot, and it’s a projector. Yes, please.

I received the ZTE Spro 2 exactly five days ago while on a little vacation to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding. It has already demonstrated the convenience of this type of device in two of the major ways it was intended: as a smart projector and a mobile hotspot.

On Friday, my wife and many other members of her family were setting up for the wedding. I was free labor. Kids were running wild everywhere. It was the complete opposite of a nice, relaxing vacation. Then the ZTE Spro 2 arrived. I found a vacant room, unboxed the Spro 2, signed in with my Google Play account, and immediately started projecting Big Hero 6 for the kids. The Spro 2 did not get me out of being used as free labor, but it was 50 times easier without kids getting in the way. The Verizon mobile connectivity of the Spro 2 and its 6,300mAh battery worked brilliantly. It even has a built-in speaker that was loud enough to be heard over a bunch of noisy kids. The portability of this device is fantastic. It saved the day, or at least a bit of my sanity.

ZTE Spro 2-1

On the way home from the wedding, we drove from Seattle to San Francisco. I’m too poor to fork out the money to buy plane tickets for my family of 5, so we drove. It’s about a 13 hour drive (without stopping) and the kids quickly grew tired of the apps I loaded onto the non-data connected Android devices we let them use for the trip. Good time to try out the Spro 2 as a mobile hotspot, right? The Spro 2 is available on AT&T and Verizon’s networks, and we were provided a Verizon-connected Spro 2. Again, the Spro 2 worked brilliantly on Verizon’s network. I think partnering with Verizon for this device was a brilliant move for ZTE. My kids love the YouTube Kids app, and they watched YouTube videos for much of a drive. Only one time in the 13 hours of driving did my kid notice an issue with connectivity, which was due to being in the middle of nowhere and not because of radio issues with the Spro 2.

The ZTE Spro 2 is currently residing on top of my headboard. The headboard has about an 8-inch shelf on the top, which is plenty of room for the Spro 2. I’m not sure how big the wall is that the Spro 2 is projecting on, but it’s a heck of a lot bigger than my 26-inch Vizio TV on the other side of the room. I have Hulu Plus installed on the device and have been using it to binge watch the full series of Seinfeld as I fall asleep at night. There’s also a companion app for the Spro 2 that allows me to control the Spro 2 from my phone. It basically mirrors what’s on the Spro 2 display, so any function the Spro 2 has can be handled from your phone. This makes the Spro 2 convenient to use from the comfort of my bed, only requiring you to be on the same network as the Spro 2 mobile hotspot.

ZTE Spro 2-3

I don’t have a nice screen to project on, but the Spro 2 projects bright enough and well enough that I can enjoy whatever video or show I show with it. It even has auto-focus and keystone correction, which is something I had never heard of until now. If you’re projecting on a surface that isn’t perpendicular to your projector, like projecting at an angle onto the ceiling, it automatically skews the image so it appears rectangular. Although the keystone correction is probably not unique to the Spro 2, the feature works well and it’s quite impressive, having never experienced it before.

The ZTE Spro 2 is running an overhauled version Android 4.4. It has a launcher that works conviently for its use as a projector, with a projector settings app that’s separate from the regular Android settings menu. I think the projector is a great application for Android. When using it, it feels like you’re using an insanely thick tablet with a 5-inch display that’s also a projector. I’m really digging the projector, and it’s making me really think I want to get one. I can totally see the convenience of a smart mobile hotspot projector for the traveling salesman or a family on-the-go, but that doesn’t sound like *most* people. I’m trying to decide if this Spro 2 at $500-$600 is worth it compared to a cheap $100 projector with a Chomecast stuck in it.

As a device, the ZTE Spro 2 is great. I have very few complaints about it, and those are mostly small annoyances. Here are the prices: The Spro 2 is available now from ZTE USA’s website and Amazon (Verizon version) for $599.99 plus tax, and from AT&T for $499.99 with no contract or $399.99 with a 2-year contract. Interestingly, I can’t find the ZTE Spro 2 on Verizon Wireless’s website. I’m not sure if the price is steep or not. I’ll have to do my homework to compare the specs to other projectors and mobile hotspots to form an opinion on the price.

So, now I need your help a bit. I still have more than a week still with the device, and I want to hear what you want to know about the ZTE Spro 2. I’ve never reviewed or owned a projector before, so if you have a feature you want me to test out or something you want to make sure I touch on in the full review, please let me know by commenting below.

How do you feel about the ZTE Spro 2? What do you think of the price? Would the Spro 2 be a great fit for your work or family life? Or does it seem a little excessive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Brooks is an engineer living in the Bay Area recently dislocated from the Great Northwest. He's an Android enthusiast who decided to start doing something (productive?) with his countless hours Android modding and theming. He has a hot wife, is a father of three, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 6 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms and may or may not be rooted. You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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