Small projectors are a lovely idea in theory, but their execution often leaves something to be desired.
That’s the case with LG’s new Minibeam, a compact 720p projector aimed at people who want to project their PC and console games and movies onto a wall instead of using a TV or monitor – it’s good for what it is, but it falls down in the more serious metrics of what makes owning a projector worthwhile.
First, let’s start with the good. The Minibeam has a lot going for it: it’s small, it can run on battery power for over two hours, it accepts inputs from a lot of different sources (including cell phones!), and it’s cheap. It also comes with its own carry-bag.
Input sources include from a smartphone (mirroring what’s on the phone’s screen on the surface it’s projected onto), HDMI and VGA, and it can output to compatible wireless speakers via Bluetooth, plus it has a wired headphone/external speaker jack.
Its cost is likewise quite impressive: you can pick one up for anything from R6300 to R7999 online (depending on where you shop), and once it’s in your hands getting going is as simple as plugging all of the cables in where they need to go, connecting your wireless devices (if applicable), some fiddling with the remote control to get the image and source right, and you’re ready to rock and roll.
The little projector also does its best to correct the keystone of the projected image (the image’s shape distortion that happens when the projector isn’t projecting straight-on), and while it doesn’t succeed perfectly, it deserves kudos for trying. If the image isn’t oriented 100% to your satisfaction, you can fine-tune the results with the remote control.
Finding the right sharpness was also easy, as adjusting the lens is done with the manual slider located atop the lens itself. And if you have a tripod, it’s possible to use it with the projector as there’s a mount on the Minibeam’s underside.
In my bedroom, I managed to get a 70-inch image from the Minibeam by placing it at the furthest point I could from the wall I projected on; you’ll definitely not find a 70-inch screen for the same amount of cash, so this is a big plus.
Lastly, the brightness is surprisingly good here: in the middle of the day, with my curtains drawn, the image was fully visible and colours appeared quite vibrant (if a bit “off” compared to what I see on the TV my Xbox is hooked up to).
Okay, so that’s the good. Now for the not-so-good.
720p is just not sharp enough for a projector aimed at entertainment purposes, especially for gaming.
I’m a little more forgiving when it comes to video content, as that blurriness is less noticeable when it’s projecting movies/TV series/YouTube, making this something I’d recommend more for a movie fan looking for their first projector, but for gaming it’s pretty bad.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ gorgeous graphics seen on my Xbox One, for example, looked positively awful with blurry edges and muddier-than-usual textures, and that really ruined the immersion for me, to the point where I switched back to my TV after just an hour of use.
The Minibeam comes with a built-in 1W speaker, so technically you don’t need external speakers to use it for content-viewing, but I’d recommend you hook it up to some anyway as the teeny timy 1W speaker is serviceable, but not very loud. It’ll get the job done in smaller rooms, and you’ll hear things, but there are better ways to enjoy movie/video/YouTube/gaming sounds.
For the price these foibles can be forgiven, of course. Taken in context, the good outweighs the bad here, making the Minibeam a fairly decent projector for the price and a good place for a first-time projector-buyer to start.
As long as you don’t go in expecting razor-sharp 1080p projections and superb audio, the LG Minibeam won’t disappoint.