Asus S1 Portable Projector – Design and Features
Quite often projectors, especially less expensive ones, are housed inside basic plastic cases. While that might be okay for something that will rarely or never move, a portable projector needs to be a bit more sturdily built. Thankfully, the Asus S1’s case is made primarily of aluminum and very solid. The entire projector measures only 4.35 x 4 inches across and 1.2 inches high. There’s a sliding door on the front that protects the lens that clicks open and closed. On one side is a wheel that glides smoothly to adjust picture focus next to an exhaust vent. There are additional exhaust vents on the other side, on the back, and on the bottom between two rubberized riser strips.Above the rear exhaust vents are the connections; a 3.5mm audio out, MHL-compatible HDMI port (for those with Android phones and the like), 5V/1A USB port, and a DC in for the included power cable. With the USB port the Asus S1 can act as a mobile device power bank. There’s even a cutout in the snug carrying case to keep the USB port accessible while the projector is stored away. Next to the DC power port is the on button.
On the top of the S1 are four buttons for controlling volume, opening the onscreen menu, or accessing different display modes and features with a strangely-named ‘Splendid’ button. When the projector is being run on battery power it can be in battery mode – which conserves battery life – or presentation mode – which projects a brighter image at the cost of half the battery life (from three hours down to 90 minutes).
There are two additional features while in battery mode that can be cycled through with the ‘Splendid’ button; flashlight mode and emergency light mode that emits a blinking white light. This essentially turns the S1 into a flashlight, or an emergency beacon for people who are camping and trying to get help.
The Asus S1 is a LED DLP projector with a native resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. Certainly not the 1080p and above we’ve all grown used to, but it’s enough in a pinch. It has a rated max light output of 200 lumens, which isn’t much for a projector and it’s only viable to use it in a dark room. It can project an image ranging from 30 to 100 inches ranging from 2.4 to 8 feet away, although the farther from the wall the dimmer the image. I found the sweet spot to be between a 40- and 60-inch projected image.
There’s a small 2 Watt built-in speaker that plays out the back, but unless there is absolutely no other option I’d recommend using an external speaker or headphones through the 3.5mm audio out jack. The speaker expectedly sounds very tinny and thin due to its small size in a small chassis.
In addition to the carrying case mentioned above, there’s a second nylon case that can fit the projector and cables.
Asus S1 Portable Projector – Testing and Gaming
Testing was done with a Photo Research PR-650 spectroradiometer, a Konica Minolta LS-100 luminance meter, and CalMAN 2018 calibration software. SDR patterns were from a VideoForge Classic generator.
The sRGB primary color points on the Asus S1 are all oversaturated, with the biggest culprits being blue and green. Secondary points are also inaccurate; yellow is a little too green, cyan is a bit too blue, and magenta looks closer to a violet. Visually, everything will look slightly off. The blue skies of Sea of Thieves have some purple mixed in while the clouds that float by are tinted with blue. The feathers on Aloy’s armor in Horizon Zero Dawn were delicate and clear even when she rode her machine mount. The mountain vistas were beautiful and retained their epic feel.
While searching through the green grass for treasure, the foliage looks a little yellow like it’s in need of some watering. This isn’t completely unexpected for a mini projector that’s only $300 (in fact, it’s better than I anticipated), and even with the color deviation the S1 manages to cover 99.4% of the sRGB color spectrum.
Considering the Asus S1 has a native resolution of 854 x 480 the detail is pretty good. The larger the image the softer it looks, but up until around a 55-inch diagonal there’s some impressive clarity for the resolution. It will only accept images up to 1080p, so be sure to change the output resolution of your source if it’s set to 4K.
It’s important to stress that the projector must be used in a dark room or at night outside. The light output of the S1 is nowhere near high enough for any ambient light, be it sun or artificial. You’d be hard-pressed to find any projector of this type that outputs enough light for day use.
Even in the dark the Asus is lacking in shadow detail (this is a challenge almost every DLP projector faces). It does make it difficult to see anything in partial darkness. Sneaking around, trying to avoid Trinity grunts in Shadow of the Tomb Raider got frustrating very quickly. It also takes away from the experience watching movies that are dependent on the relationship of shadow and light, like Blade Runner 2049.
The most surprising testing result with the Asus S1 was its input lag. The input lag of projectors in general is notoriously bad, especially for those without a game mode (which the S1 does not have). They can approach, and in some cases, surpass 100ms, making gaming frustrating at best and near impossible at worst. Even good input lag times fall around 30ms, which is fine for most but still doesn’t compete with TVs that can be in the teens. Using a Leo Bodnar lag tester that sends a 1080p signal, the Asus S1 had an input lag of 16.6ms, faster than many TVs. That’s fast enough for any gaming, from Dead or Alive 6 to Red Dead Redemption 2.
The Asus S1 portable projector has an MSRP of $319, but can usually be found for less online.
ASUS S1 Portable Projector