There’s a saying that goes something like, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” I firmly believe in that — especially when it comes to tech products and their sometimes-pointless updates.
But first, what are the changes? There aren’t many significant differences between the original model and the second-generation projector, but here are a few worth noting: Smart Edge Blending that allows you to use two Freestyle projectors to make one massive image with support for widescreen content at an aspect ratio of up to 29.3:9, a solar remote instead of a battery-operated one, increased memory for faster performance, and the most notable difference — the Samsung Gaming Hub.
While I’m no gamer, my husband is a casual one, so I put him to the test to try this feature out. What’s very cool about the Samsung Gaming Hub is you don’t need a physical console to play a game, but just the Freestyle 2, internet access, and game controller.
You’ll have to subscribe to cloud streaming like Xbox, GeForce Now, Luna, and others, but there are also free games you can play right off the bat.
Samsung Freestyle 2
The Samsung Freestyle 2 projector features upgrades like Smart Edge Blending and Samsung Gaming Hub integration that make it a worthy upgrade over the previous generation.
My husband was able to play Rocket League with a free membership to GeForce Now, and other free games like Fortnite were also available. The overall gaming experience will depend on your Wi-Fi connection, but the graphics were crystal clear, and the Freestyle 2 loaded the games fast with virtually no glitches.
It was a unique experience to be able to play games outside or cast them to our ceiling while lying down without being tied to one specific room or a particular gaming console.
Now, aside from the gaming aspect, the Samsung Freestyle 2 is really a quality projector. It is super easy to set up and get going — all you need is a Wi-Fi connection. And you don’t need to lug an extension cord around since its portable battery easily connects to the device, letting you use it virtually anywhere (which was perfect for our backyard).
It comes preloaded with many streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Prime Video, and more, so you can sign into your accounts quickly and start streaming.
By far, what impressed me the most was the sound: It comes from the built-in, 5W 360-degree speaker, and for such a small speaker, it packs a punch. During a very windy outdoor nighttime streaming of a movie, we could hear the sound clear and loud, almost as if we were indoors and the sound was surrounding us.
The Samsung Freestyle 2 impressed me with both image quality, the ability to auto-focus — whether it was projecting onto a slanted ceiling or a projector screen — and the overall experience of setup and streaming. To me, technology should make things quicker and more accessible, and this device does just that — especially with its portability aspect.
ZDNET’s buying advice
If you’re a gamer and want the ability to play a variety of titles without a console, the Samsung Freestyle 2 is a great option that allows you to play games while camping, outdoors, literally wherever.
However, if you’re buying a Samsung Freestyle for the movie experience, the first-generation’s specs are similar enough to this new model that you can save a few hundred bucks while getting the top projector.
Whatever model you choose, if you’re looking for a portable or outdoor projector, this is, in my opinion, the best one on the market.