Pros: Easy to set up.
Cons: Image is so bad/dark it makes it useless.
A good projector costs about $500 - $1,000 that is suitable for movies, etc. So when I saw this at a TJ Maxx for $59 (it typically sells online for around $100), I didn't hesitate in buying it. I wasn't expecting performance anywhere near a high end projector, so it isn't like I was expecting to get a home video solution for under $100. However, I at the very least had hoped for a machine that projected watchable images onto the wall (or in this case, a 'screen' that I made from a white sheet and a clothing rack.) If nothing else, I was hoping for a pleasant surprise and a good buy.
This will be going back, even at $60. My original intent was to buy this and project some older movies where the quality did not matter onto the screen and do 'drive in movie' nights on dates. I have a small apartment, so the fact that this has to be between 6 and 14 feet away from the screen didn't bother me.
The set up out of the box is pretty easy ... you just plug the audio/video three headed cable into outputs on a TV/VCR, etc. Plug it into the wall or an outlet and you are ready to go. No set up. The projector is a bit awkward because the power chord is so short, as are the audio video cables that the machine has to be right next to the VCR/DVD player in order to work. Maybe they make a longer set of audio/video cables ... but out of the box, placement will not be easy.
The instructions say that the projector should be placed within 14 feet of the screen, however I found that the further you go ... the more blurry it becomes. At about 5 feet, you will get a picture about 2 feet wide that is fairly clear. At about 10 feet, you get a somewhat blurry image that is very dark and is about 60 inches across. At 14 feet, you will not be able to see the picture at all. This will never be as clear as any type of TV. In fact, you will be lucky to see most of the movie you are watching and make out the details.
The room will have to be completely dark in order to see an image. If any light is on (even the light of a television set) you will not be able to see the image. This gets a little weird because even when it is very dark, the image quality isn't good. If any light from another room, etc. is on ... you won't be able to see the image.
The image is very pixilated and looks like you are watching the screen through a thick screen door with the black criss crosses. This could be overlooked because this is less than $100. However, what can't be overlooked is that even in a completely dark room, if there is any scene in a movie that isn't taking place in daylight or a lighted room, you will not be able to make out what is going on. The first movie I tried to watch on this was Friday the 13th ... I figured a cheesy 70s horror movie would be good because the image quality wouldn't matter. It was very dissapointing because even in the daylight scenes, you can't really make out facial features. Any night scene or scene indoors and you can't really make out anything at all.
Another weird thing about this is that the projector fan is very loud. This didn't bother me because I kind of liked the sound of the whirring projector and I had surround sound. If you aren't using this with surround sound and have just normal tv sound ... it will be hard to hear. It sounds like a constant, loud fan sound. The projector does have its own speaker, which actually has a very poor sound quality, but I liked it because it sounds very much like the olden speakers that you clipped to your window at the drive in movie theater.
The good thing about this projector is that the bulbs are cheap to replace. I think they around $5. I won't be keeping this long enough to figure out how long they last. However, on expensive projectors, the bulbs can cost $35 - $50 and don't last a long time.
For $100, this is useless. In fact, I probably wouldn't even pay $40 for this because it is a cool idea ... but in actuality ... why would you try to watch a movie that you couldn't really enjoy because the image quality is so bad? That would be the equivalent of going out and buying a Ferrari that had the engine removed and a Kia's engine put into it. Sure, you can say you have a Ferrari, but what good does that do you when it performs so bad that you don't have fun driving it?
If this cost $250 and the image quality was somewhat watchable, I think it would sell better. Actually ... maybe it wouldn't sell as good, but from all the reviews I read on other sites ... about 80% or more of the people who bought this returned it because it was such bad quality that they couldn't even watch movies on it. If Sharper Image could come up with a product that was somewhat comparable to the $500 - $1,000 projectors in the $250 range, I am sure some people would buy it ... even if the quality of the image was half as good as the more expensive units. I'd say that this projector is about 1/10th or less as good as a $500 - $1,000 unit. Maybe less. So, really ... save your money.
I enjoyed reading the other review on this from the reviewer who said that he bought it for his kids but they couldn't even watch a movie for more than a few minutes because they couldn't see it due to the image quality. Sharper Image used to offer good products that actually were pretty amazing. However, since it went bankrupt and was taken over by another company who sells mass produced and inexpensive junky products under the Shaper Image name, it may as well be a generic brand.
I had hoped this would be somewhat useful ... but it turns out to be useless. So much for cheesy drive in movie nights. I hoped for a grainy image that made it possible to watch a movie, but instead see that if it sounds too good to be true ... it usually is. The most misleading advertising comes from the box, which makes this seem much better than it is. Save your money because you will return this if you buy it, even if you see it at TJ Maxx for $59.