Projectors had been mostly absent from that pacesetter of home entertainment technology, the Consumer Electronics Show. They've had a bit of a resurgence recently though, led by splashy, space-saving devices such as the LG Hecto and the Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector. Both are designed to deliver huge-screen experiences without eating up your whole room.
The Philips Screeneo debuted at CES 2014 with the same promise, for a price that's by far the least expensive of the bunch. But with the price reduction inevitably comes compromise, and in this case I think Philips compromised too much.
The DLP-based LED-lit Screeneo HDP1590 certainly offers more features than your average projector, including Bluetooth, DLNA, an Android operating system (complete with apps!), and 3D playback, but image quality takes a beating. For the $1,800 price, performance is worse than average and little can be done to improve things using the limited controls.
From a pure bang-for-buck perspective, the Philips clearly falls short, but even its extensive feature set isn't as appealing as it seems on paper. The biggest issue is that this is far from the "plug-and-play" solution it should be: the menu system is a patchwork quilt, and some of the streaming features simply aren't very easy to use.
The Screeneo is sort of a fun all-in-one concept, but the price needs some adjustment. In the realm of budget short-throws, the BenQ W1080ST is the far superior value, and the traditional long-throw Home Cinema 2030 delivers a better picture for half the price of the Screeneo.
Ever wanted a projector that looked like a laser printer? Well, has Philips got the product for you! The Screeneo is a smallish, gray box that even has what appears to be a paper feeder. In fact, it's the slot for the lens.
Designed to sit fairly close to a wall, the Philips can only be situated in one way, with the connections and leather carry strap on the wall-facing side. Meanwhile, the onboard speakers face you, and underneath the Philips logo is a hidden section that holds more connections as well as the focus control.
Moving to the top of the device, you'll find the menu buttons and the all-important power button. For some reason, this button needs to be held down to turn the unit on, and annoyingly, if you turn the unit off via the same button, you can't then use the remote to turn it back on. Pro tip: don't use the power button.
The remote control is relatively large, reasonably ergonomic, and certainly has a lot of keys. Unfortunately, especially for a projector remote, it doesn't have a backlight.
Unfortunately, Philips' menu system can be a little bit of a mess. It consists of a custom interface layered over Android, and the only control method is via the remote, making it hard to use some things -- especially tasks that involve the virtual keyboard such as the Web browser or enabling Wi-Fi. Sometimes, for example, you have to use "Tab" on the virtual keyboard to navigate instead of simply using the Up or Down keys.
3D glasses included
Zoom and focus
Up to 30,000 hours
Replacement lamp cost
Ultra-short throw, Bluetooth, DLNA, Miracast
With a maximum distance of 18 inches from the projection surface it's clear this isn't a short-throw projector like the BenQ W1080ST, but a new breed of ultra-short-throw devices in the vein of the LG Hecto.
The Screeneo is unusual in that it uses a combination of DLP technology and LED illumination. The LEDs allow a TV-like lifespan of 30,000 hours, so you'll never need to change a lamp.
While it's priced like a midrange projector, the Philips, sadly, is no videophile's delight, but thankfully it knows it. For example, the Screeneo's "wall color" presets actively encourage its users to use walls as a projection surface.
The Philips features an unusual resolution of 1,280x800 which means that all content (barring specific PC-based stuff) will feature black bars top and bottom . While you can block off the projection into 1280 x 720 (720p) -- with a flock-edged projection screen perhaps -- be aware that you will obscure some of the menu by doing so
Philips is positioning the Screeneo as a television replacement, and the European version we tested includes a tuner and other add-ons such as Bluetooth and Miracast. At the time of this review, Philips' representative was uncertain if an over-the-air tuner would be included on the US version, but he did assure us the two versions are otherwise identical.
I was glad to see the projector includes a single pair of active 3D glasses in the box for watching 3D movies. They're DLP Link-branded units, so the Screeneo should be compatible with other like-branded specs, too.
Smart features: The projector uses Android 4.2 and promises attendant features including DLNA, Web browser and "apps." The apps themselves are fairly spartan and hilariously include "email." Only YouTube is of any note. There's no access to an app store such as Google Play, and while there is an ApkInstaller to load new apps from a USB disk(!), this is very bare-bones and not recommended for most people. Feeling adventurous, I actually tried loading the Google Play Webstore as an APK, but sadly, it didn't function.
As the Philips uses a custom version of Android, some parts of the interface are tricky, in part relying on a terrible combination of onscreen keyboard and D-pad. For example when entering the Wi-Fi password, you have to press Tab and then Enter for each selection on the dialog box instead of the arrow keys.