A projector running Android, surely that is the perfect device for use in the boardroom or the meeting rooms across the globe. When I heard about the Touchjet Pond I was rather intrigued, a projector that turns the surface you’re projecting onto into a large touchscreen, just seemed like something out of a sci-fi film. It made me imagine doing a presentation in a big meeting, jabbing away at the wall, swiping through my slides, showing the attendees a video and dealing with my emails right there from one handy connected device. So when one appeared in the Coolsmartphone office I got a little bit excited. So onto my review, lets start with my good and bad points.
Good and Bad Points
- Small projector running Android, which opens up the projector to a world of apps.
- Built in Internal Memory is crying out for pictures, videos or presentations.
- USB OTG means you can plug in a flash drive or mouse/keyboard.
- Standard camera tripod mount on the bottom is rather handy.
- 3.5mm and Mini HDMI output opens up flexibility.
- Internal Battery and DC power handy.
- 2 x Stylus, remote and batteries in the box.
- For a projector it is quite compact and portable.
- Built in speaker.
- Split internal memory leaves little space for apps.
- Price of £599.99 is a little steep.
- Not the brightest at 80 lumens or 50 lumens on battery power.
- A little low resolution for text when stretched out from afar.
- Interacting with the “touchscreen” is a little awkward at times as your body/arm/hand will obscure the screen.
- No video input so media has to be stored on the memory or on a USB stick.
The Touchjet Pond is a compact projector, small enough to fit in your medium to largish pocket and aesthetically pleasing enough to make even the most hardened tech fan double take and ask what on earth it is. Oh and it’s white, I like white gadgets.
So for all intents and purposes it is a projector, so it is rather chunky, at about 4 inches by 4 inches and about an inch thick you’ll not lose it. But compare it to your standard office style projector and you’ll be over the moon if you’ve got to take it on the road. In the carry case you get everything you’ll need to get started with it, you get two styli, a remote control, the mains charger, a load of AAA batteries for the stylus and remote and a USB OTG cable for connecting USB sticks and Mice / Keyboard combos.
Almost everything you’d expect to find on a projector is present, just smaller versions of them. Like the buttons or the ports. The left hand side of the projector only has the power status light and a loud speaker. The right hand side does have a sliding power button which you have to slide and hold for 3 seconds to power the thing on, the dial near the front is to adjust the focus of the projector.
The front of the projector houses the lamp, the stylus tip sensor and the fans. The bottom has a standard tripod camera mount, which was handy for mounting on my telescopic tripod to help adjusting the height, angle and pitch of the projector, as there is no built in angle or height adjustment on the bottom. The back of the projector has the Micro USB port, the Mini HDMI output, a 3.5 mm Audio out port and the DC-in power port. The corners have some sort of rubber feet which seem to act as a bumper for knocks rather than actual feet.
Overall the design is quite nice, I liked the air vents running along the sides, it looked really quite nice for a projector.
Even a projector in this day and age has a spec list. It is all a bit basic, but at the end of the day it is a smart projector not a phone or tablet.
- Processor: Rockchip RK3066, Dual Core 1.61 GHz ARM Cortex-A9.
- GPU: Mali 400 MP.
- Storage: 18 GB overall with about 17 GB free out of the box. Comprising of three partitions: 1.72 GB Internal Memory with 1.4 GB free, 0.9 GB Nand Flash with 0.89 GB free and 14.47 GB SD Card.
- RAM: 1 GB.
- Wireless connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth.
- Extras: Mini HDMI, microUSB for USB OTG, 3.5mm audio out.
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat.
- Lamp: 80 lumens LED (50 on battery power).
- Resolution: 854 x 480 pixels.
- Lamp life: 20,000 hours.
- Battery life: 2 hours ( in power saving mode).
- Dimensions: 3 x 11 x 10cm.
- Weight: 300g.
The hardware is a mixed bag, the projector part is a little dim and even dimmer on battery power, but it does have decent lamp life of 20,000 hours and if you use it in a dimmed room you’ll be more than able to see the output. The internal memory seemed like a good idea and then I realised that it’s all split up like how phone manufacturers used to do in the “olden days” meaning that if you install a third party app it may or may not be able to see the different partitions and access what your trying to display on the projector.
A similar issue with apps recognising the memory crops up using USB OTG, for instance Office Mobile doesn’t recognise files on USB sticks so you need to use a file browser that does open the file and choose Office Mobile.
One main issue with the projector also seems to be heat and noise. Once you set the projector to task doing anything the fans kick in, the temperature starts to rise and it seems to slow down, whether this is down to the heat or just the processor struggling I’m not sure.
The fact that the projector is a compact projector doesn’t help it either, the Micro USB port, the Mini HDMI port and the lack of HDMI input don’t exactly yell “familiarity” at the man in the street. The fact there isn’t a built in File Manager app either doesn’t help, meaning transferring files around will be fiddly thanks to over zealous restrictions on KitKat.
The Touchjet Pond runs Android 4.4.2 with some sort of custom launcher installed, which is actually quite handy, as you really don’t want to be getting to grips with swiping through panels and the app drawer to get your presentation to load up. The launcher basically is the app drawer, navigation is fairly simple using the stylus or the remote, more on that in the next section though.
It has Google services built in so you can access the Play Store and install whatever you want to plaster over your walls, be it a movie, some pictures, a game or even heaven forbid a Powerpoint Presentation. I found the software lagged a little thanks to the Rockchip processor, which struggled to do multi task whilst installing apps.
Any Touchjet Pond user is going to have to install apps with a little bit of forethought, not just willy nilly installing things you’ll barely ever use, the split internal memory means you only can install so much. So stick to what you will actually need in that next meeting or presentation. You also need to think about how you are going to get the files onto your projector too, I opted for Dropbox and uploaded stuff via my pc and then downloaded onto the projectors memory using the Dropbox app (other cloud storage solutions are available!), the problem being that not all third party file managers and apps recognise USB OTG storage.
Overall the software is pretty basic, letting the user create the setup they want and not how Touchjet think it should be, the fact the user needs to be of a certain tech level is a little worrying, if I gave this to some of the sales reps that work for the same company as me they’d never manage to get a single file onto the thing.
In use the projector is quite simple. You connect the power adapter, slide and hold the power button forwards, wait for it to boot up, focus the lamp and then the fun starts (or confusion if you’re not that Android savy). The first time your boot the Touchjet Pond up there is quite a lot to get your head around, first of all you’ll want to wait a bit before you attempt to use the stylus. Grab the remote control or better still plug in a USB connector for a mouse and keyboard.
So you need to connect to WiFi before you can get very far, which is in the settings menu accessed through the special settings button at the side of the screen or through the normal settings icon, once you’ve done that you’ll need to add a Google Account, which is why I suggested using a keyboard as typing out your email address with the remote or the stylus is annoying. Once that is done you’ll need to install the app updates and then your ready to work out how the Stylus works. Via the Calibration app, which again is one of the apps at the side of the screen.
Calibration is simple, you put batteries in the stylus, turn it on and attempt to touch various target projected onto the wall. The projector receives information from the stylus via Infrared, when you either click the button on the side of the stylus or you jab at the surface projected onto. Once calibration is done the stylus accurately interacts with the “touchscreen”, you can scroll, swipe open apps and type using an onscreen keyboard and it all seems like a great idea. It did bug me though that almost every time I used the stylus my arm, my hand or some other appendage got in the way of the projector and made me pause, the tap still registered but in the case of typing I couldn’t see what was actually being typed out. Try as I might I couldn’t get round this, the pointer button on the side of the pen kind of works like an air mouse, displaying a circle onscreen where the tap is registered, using this like a stylus/mouse kind of thing works better than just as a stylus and you can even do gestures like a swipe down on the notification bar and not have to worry about scratching your wall.
The remote control offers a little bit more in terms of control, allowing you to use the up/down/left/right arrows to move a selection box around the screen with the “OK” button selecting what you want, you even get back/home/recents/calibration/power/volume buttons too. Although if you click into a text input field the onscreen keyboard pops up leaving you to navigate it using the up/down/left/right keys and the OK button.
As I mentioned earlier I had the best experience by plugging a USB Mouse/Keyboard combo into the projector and using it like a laptop with a projector attached. The mouse mainly meant I could scroll around without obscuring the projector lamp.
At 80 lumens the lamp isn’t the brightest, but if you dim the lights in the room you’ll be able to see the screen, if you’re on battery power it is down to 50 lumens. Which in a bright office isn’t going to cut it really, especially when you consider a normal projector is normally over 2000 lumens. I guess heat is the main concern with the lamp and with such a small chassis and they couldn’t fit the lamp or the fans into the chassis for anything brighter.
Overall the projector is pretty easy to use, as long as you have a knowledge of how Android works and how you can achieve tasks with a variety of third party apps.
Overall I really liked the projector, the potential for it is huge, it could be a really useful tool to many. The main thing holding it back is the fiddly nature of Android and how it handles external memory sticks, files stored in the memory and how the actual OS works with the provided input methods. Yes you’d look pretty cool, jabbing away at the walls in a clients office whilst showing them how your new product could improve their profit margins, but each and every gesture would obscure the projection and leave you wondering what to touch next.
If you’re looking for a compact projector, with some smart functionality and you have a knowledge of Android and Cloud Storage then this could be ideal for you.
The Touchjet Pond is available here on their website here for £599.99