Windows Central Verdict
The Dangbei Neo Smart Projector is a portable and versatile gaming and family entertainment option. With the possibility of plugging into power and a 3-hour battery life, you can easily use it indoors and outdoors. Low latency makes it perfect for projecting video games onto a huge surface to take immersion to the next level. Its sleek design, impressive performance, and ease of use impressed me, changing my game and movie nights forever.
Portable and versatile.
Remote controller with clever functions.
Simple to set up and use.
No Google Play store.
Lacking file format support.
Doesn't cope well in daylight.
Sound quality is just ok.
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I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy my games and utilize the small space I have at home in which to do so. The television in our living room is reserved for either my partner’s gaming or my kid’s Cocomelon habit, so I’ve always been intrigued by the prospect of using wall space to project my games.
I often move my Xbox Series S from room to room anyway. Using the previously reviewed Depgi Screen as my gaming solution, I was interested in taking the portability element of my gaming and blowing it up, quite literally, with a projector. My experience with the Dangbei Neo Smart Projector has revolutionized my gaming and my whole family’s entertainment.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review unit provided by Dangbei. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Neo Smart projector: Price, availability and specs
The Dangbei Neo Smart Projector is available in the US for $599.99 on its official website, but you can also find it on third-party retailers like Amazon for $599.99 or even less with coupons regularly shown at checkout. The projector comes in dark blue or white and is packed with a remote and power/charging brick.
|Native Resolution||1080p (1920x1080 FHD)|
|Brightness||540 ISO Lumens|
|Image Size||37.5 - 120 inches|
|RAM/ROM||1GB DDR3 / 8GB eMMC v5.1|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, LAN, SPDIF|
|Speaker||2 x 6W, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus|
|LED Lifespan||30,000 hours|
|Size||7.87 x 6.18 x 3.94 inches|
|Weight||1.42 kg (~3.13 lbs)|
Neo Smart projector: Build quality
The first thing I appreciated when unpacking the Neo was that it was light and easy to handle. Weighing just over 3 lbs and compact enough to fit in a backpack, it has a portable design, and on the surface of it, it seems perfect for taking on vacation.
Much of the promotional materials for the projector show it nestled in the middle of a camping site, so Dangbei clearly had this in mind with the design. Surprisingly, the projector was lighter than the box it came in.
The anti-scratch lens is located right of center on the front panel, with a small speaker grill below it and two larger speaker grills on each side panel. A large air vent occupies half of the back panel, with the other half featuring the various wired connection ports (HDMI, SUB, DC, Audio & LAN).
It has a minimalist design that looks sleek and elegant but without any flashy features. Besides a power button on the top, there are no other controls on the projector itself, with all other functions accessed via the remote. It's appreciated since my kids have fewer buttons to press and mess with the settings.
Neo Smart projector: Gaming
Yes, the projector has a bunch of pre-installed apps for watching movies and TV shows. Still, my primary interest in using the Dangbei was playing games, specifically my favorite, Diablo 4. And boy, I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, it was difficult to adequately capture images of how good the images look on this projector, as it's primarily used in low light, which my camera can't cope with. Thankfully, you can still understand the scale and colors to be expected alongside my praise.
After taking a picture frame down from our living room wall, we quickly hooked the projector up to an Xbox Series X with the HDMI cable, and we were good to go. I booted up Diablo, and there she was, Lilith projected across the length of my back wall. Just incredible.
The picture quality was breathtaking, and when I did finally stop staring at it and sat down to play the game, there were no issues with combat, and inputs were smooth and responsive with no lag or stutter issues thanks to the Neo's low 30ms latency.
Depending on your wall space, you can adjust the image size via the remote from as small as 37 inches to the full 120 inches. It can project crisp and vivid images and videos with a native 1080p resolution and support for HDR10/HLG.
Considering we were using the entirety of our side wall to project games like Diablo 4 and Halo Infinite, the picture quality was impressively sharp with vivid colors. It’s not 4K, but it’s pretty damn good at this size. I didn’t need to position the projector far back either to achieve a good image, which is great as I don’t have a particularly large room.
Games like Alien Dark Descent were more enjoyable on a massive screen as it was so easy to read smaller details on the map and position characters strategically. The combat felt more intense and utterly cinematic.
One of my most terrifying encounters was with the Butcher in Diablo 4. The big screen made this classic boss even more horrifying as I ran away from his hooks and cleavers. The cleaver looked huge and sharp on the projector, and I didn’t want to get anywhere near it. Not a pleasant experience up close.
My next project is to hook up the Nintendo Switch and play Mario Kart on the big screen. More of family-friendly activity than Diablo, and I can’t wait to see Rainbow Road come to life.
Neo Smart projector: Home cinema
While I wasn't initially interested in the projector for its movie capabilities, I wanted to try it out, and I can confirm it was a hit with the entire family.
The Dangbei Neo Smart Projector comes with some pre-installed apps you would expect, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. You also get Mirrorcast and Homeshare to cast directly from your phone or other devices to access your favorite movies and TV in many different ways. The movie experience was an absolute breeze to set up, connecting to my Wi-Fi with no issues.
I logged in with my Amazon Prime account, rented a movie, and in the space of 5 minutes, we were enjoying a family movie night. Complete with our own (cheaper) snacks and the ability to pause for ad breaks.
There's an app store on the projector to download other entertainment apps like Plex and Vivo, but no Disney+. This wasn't a problem for us, though, as we could plug in our Amazon Fire Stick, so alternative options exist to get the apps you want, which is a relief since the first thing my son wanted to watch was Mickey Mouse.
The only minor complaint in this area is due to the minimalist design of the Dangbei Neo; you cannot adjust the viewing angle, so we had to prop it up with some rudimentary tools, namely a Biff, Chip, and Kipper book.
The Dangbei Neo Smart projector's sound quality is the only category where I have some real criticism. For an all-in-one home entertainment, it's not great. It's fine and perfectly serviceable, but I'd highly recommend plugging in your soundbar if you want the real home cinema experience.
It can also be used as a standalone Bluetooth speaker when not in use for video, but the sound isn't going to blow you away and was outperformed by an Amazon Echo.
Neo Smart projector: Outdoor use
I didn't have an opportunity to test the Dangbei Neo outdoors, as since receiving it, I've been at the mercy of good old British weather, which has been damp 99% of the time. My teenager, however, is looking forward to taking this to a friend's for a sleepover at the next opportunity and using it in their garden for an evening.
You'll need to wait until dusk, though, as despite the promotional materials, the projector doesn't cope well in bright light. The 540 ISO lumens rating for brightness is excellent for an evening but pretty much takes daytime use off the table. Also, you would still need to run an extension cable outside or take a hefty battery pack despite its portability.
Neo Smart projector: The competition
Projectors are not cheap, so you might often choose a reputable brand. Samsung's 'The Freestyle' is a portable projector that costs $899 MSRP, but you can usually find it on sale for $599 on Amazon.
It has a 1080p HDR resolution, a tilt design that allows you to adjust the projection angle, and a 360-degree speaker that delivers immersive sound and doubles as a music speaker. It also comes with pre-installed streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus, which is missing on the Dangbei Neo.
The Dangbei Neo, on the other hand, is a smaller and lighter projector that costs $599.99 MSRP. It also has a 1080p HDR resolution but supports HDR10/HLG formats for better contrast and color. It can project up to 120 inches, larger than Samsung's 100 inches.
However, it has no battery and relies on external power sources. It runs on Linux with a custom UI that is more responsive and efficient than Samsung's Tizen OS.
Neo Smart projector: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a portable solution to maximize your entertainment.
- You have a large space to project an image.
- You want something simple to set up.
You should not buy this if ...
- You want a projector that works in brighter environments.
- You don't have an alternative sound solution like a soundbar.
- You don't have a large blank space or room for a roll-up projection screen.
Overall, the Dangbei Neo Smart projector is a brilliant device for casual home entertainment and playing video games, and it has completely changed our family movie nights. We were not too disappointed when we couldn't get seats together at the local cinema for a one-off reshowing of Interstellar because we could just set up the projector and have a great experience at home.
It's certainly not a cheap gadget, but it's one that the whole family can enjoy, and for that, I think it's worth the expense. The Dangbei Neo Smart projector has become a firm part of our weekend routine, and I can't imagine life without it, even if it doesn't quite stand up to the best 4K TVs for Xbox Series X & Series S in terms of pure resolution output.
Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.