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Samsung's latest swiveling projector is secretly the best gaming console you can buy

The Samsung Freestyle 2 builds on its predecessor with greater functionality, a better remote, and some literally game-changing features.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Close-up image of the Samsung Freestyle 2 projector light
Allison Murray/ZDNET


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.

However, after experiencing the recently upgraded generation of the Samsung Freestyle 2, this portable projector may have taken the cake for the best tech gadget I've tried thus far in 2023.

Review: Samsung The Freestyle: A well-rounded projector, inside and out

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.

Also: The best outdoor projectors for epic movie nights

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.

View at Best Buy

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.

Screen of Samsung Gaming Hub projected onto a slanted ceiling
Allison Murray/ZDNET

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.

Also: The best Netflix alternatives

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.

Also: The best VPN for streaming

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 still getting a 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.

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