Hands-on: Entertain, inform, and connect with the AT&T ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector

When you travel for business and want to make sure you can stay connected and also display your presentation without any hassles, all-in-one devices like the AT&T ZTE Spro 2 make excellent traveling companions.

Smartphone cameras are finally getting good enough to serve as both your phone and point-and-shoot camera, but usually multi-purpose devices compromise too much to be that valuable. The new ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector serves a couple purposes and actually does both very well.

Connectivity is important for those of us who spend time traveling for business and it's pretty rare to find decent hotel WiFi. Dedicated mobile hotspots are an important travel accessory, especially if you need to use your phone for communications and can't dedicate it to connectivity for your computer and other devices. The ZTE Spro 2 serves as an AT&T WiFi mobile hotspot with the ability to connect up to ten devices.

Many business travelers also attend meetings or conferences and give presentations. I've carried projectors in the past in order to make sure there were no incompatibility issues, but now many conference rooms have integrated projection systems. The ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector lets you connect your device via HDMI or Miracast while also providing a microSD cards slot.

Hardware

AT&T offers the ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector for $399.99 with a 2-year contract and $499.99 with no annual contract.

The ZTE Spro 2 is navy blue in color and has a 5 inch 1280 x 720 pixel resolution display on top. The power button is centered below the display with touch capacitive buttons above the button. A fan opening is on the right side, the projector lens is on the top/front, and volume buttons are on the left. On the back/bottom of the device you will find the power connector, full size HDMI port, USB port, headphone/audio out jack, SIM card slot, and microSD card slot.

Four rubber feet, a kickstand, and standard tripod mount are positioned on the underside of the ZTE Spro 2. A 6,300 mAh battery is found inside, with a stated battery capacity of up to 2.5 hours of projection time and up to 16 hours of hotspot time.

While the device works fine without a connected power source, you are limited to low and medium (100 lumen) brightness. In order to experience the full 200 lumen output, you need to connect the external power source.

With dimensions of 5.3 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches and 19.4 ounces, the ZTE Spro 2 is quite portable. ZTE also includes a carrying case that holds the device, charger, and HDMI cable.

The device is powered by a Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.0 GHz processor, Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB integrated storage, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

Software

The ZTE Spro 2 runs Android 4.4 with a slightly customized user interface. Pressing the home button takes you to a screen with widgets for the projector, hotspot, Google Search, Google Play Store, Google services folder, and WiFi hotspot DataConnect meter.

Other default tabs include settings, media, office, and apps. There are custom settings for the projector that includes choosing the source, controlling brightness, focus, color correction, and more. The media tab consolidates photo, music, game, and ebook apps. The office tab consolidates office apps, including the provided WPS Office suite. You can also add your own custom tabs.

This is the first smart projector I have ever used and I was impressed by the Android functionality provided on the unit. With the projection hardware, it's extremely valuable to have an operating system like Android where you can install video apps such as Hulu, Netflix, and more so that content from a number of video sources can be enjoyed on a wall without any external video content source.

ZTE also includes a custom notification shade widget with buttons for quick access to the projector, projector brightness, HDMI source, Miracast source, USB stick source, USB computer source, WiFi, and WiFi hotspot.

Usage experiences

Over the past week, I watched a few movies from various sources, projected PowerPoint, and used the ZTE Spro 2 as a WiFi mobile hotspot. It performed flawlessly, projecting onto blank walls with good brightness and even included audio. I connected external speakers through the audio out port and also tested Bluetooth audio output, both of which were much better than the small internal speaker.

The ZTE Spro 2 seems to be an excellent accessory for the business traveler. While use as a projector and mobile hotspot for work is solid, it would also be great to watch video content in the hotel room when your hotel media experience is limited.

The touchscreen and buttons worked well and since it's an Android device there was no real learning curve for me to get up and running. The default home screen widgets made using the projector and WiFi hotspot quick and easy.

Mobile share value plans start at $30 a month for 300MB up to $385 for 50GB. If you are already an AT&T customer you can add the ZTE Spro 2 to your account and share the data you already have setup in your account, along with a $10 per month access fee.

While the ZTE Spro 2 is a great option for the business traveler, people who enjoy video content may even want to consider it for the home. Cord cutters will like the ability to watch content wherever they want, including for backyard summer movies, since you can get content up and running from a number of providers.

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