It's not often that a tech company presents a consumer product that feels truly new, but Samsung might have done it.
It's not the tech specs that make the company's new Freestyle projector stand out. They're good but not groundbreaking. What's different about the product unveiled this evening at a keynote address in the Venitian hotel on the Las Vegas strip is — ahem — the vibe.
Will that be enough to make the $899 projector-speaker-lifestyle engine the next big thing in tech? That's in cusomers' hands now.
The Freestyle is whatever you want it to be
The two-pound projector can splash images of up to 100 inches in 1080p onto “any surface, at any angle," and it boasts a 360-degree speaker with "a dual passive radiator" that makes for clean, full bass, according to a press release from the company. But Samsung didn't take the normal approach of highlighting picture and sound quality as primary selling points. It wasn't even projecting video when the product was revealed to the crowd of tech writers and businesspeople. The product was introduced by Georgina Hyas Tordoff, a member of Samsung's Future Generation Lab, who looked like she could've been in a dark bedroom equipped with colorful stage lighting.
"I'm currently backstage playing with the Freestyle, using its cool features to project this onto my face," she said before coming onto the stage where Samsung CEO Jong-Hee "JH" Han had been bragging on his company's sustainability efforts a few minutes before. In a presentation all about personalization and flexibility, Tordoff touted all the different ways the Freestyle could be used. Show a movie while out camping? Sure. Decorate your room with a "fake window"? You bet. Add some extra pizzaz to freshly painted graffiti? That use case was also mentioned. In her words, "you can play with ambient lighting to flex your vibe."
The Freestyle has an HDMI jack and a USB-C jack. It runs the same software as Samsung's smart TVs. It can be fully controlled by voice commands from up to 30 feet (9 m) away. Users can also control their Freestyle with a Galaxy phone, or any other smartphone. In other words, it's a cool device. But that's not exactly what Samsung is selling. The new hyperflexible, hyperportable, hypercustomizable, hyperpersonalizable projector is all about what it can be for the individual user. Unconstrained by cables or presets, the Freestyle is marketed as an anything-you-want-it-to-be machine. Samsung says it will ship in the next few months.