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Samsung always brings something wild to CES, and this year is no different. The Freestyle is a teeny, tiny $899.99 projector that feels tailor-made for the millennial generation.
Yes, it can be your TV with the ability to project up to a 100-inch screen on seemingly any surface — but it can also be a speaker, a light or a groovy star show projector. Plus, you can even screw it into a standard lightbulb socket to power it.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so we’re breaking it all down and sharing some insights from our conversation with Samsung’s Dan Schinasi, director of product planning for TV, and Lydia Cho, head of product marketing for TV.
A lifestyle projector
Much like The Frame, which mimics art, or The Sero, which flips from horizontal to vertical, The Freestyle is the latest in a long line of lifestyle home entertainment products from Samsung. It’s described as a “portable screen,” which is fitting.
The Freestyle itself looks like a canister projector that sits in a cradle that can swivel up to 180 degrees. It’s also pretty darn light at under 2 pounds and takes up much less space than a conventional projector. We’ll need to see it in person to see how it measures up to Anker’s Nebula projectors, though. You could easily carry this gadget around in one hand or toss it in a bag for easy portability.
And out of the box, you’ll get everything you need to use it. Since the cradle is built in, you can position The Freestyle to project onto a wall, a ceiling or really any imaginable surface.
“I always imagined like, hey, what if you put your TV on your ceiling? Oh, well, that’s sort of dangerous, right. But now you could use The Freestyle to just be lying down and just be, you know, watching it just from anywhere,” says Cho.
The Freestyle is powered via USB-C, and once you plug it in, you’re ready to project up to a 100-inch screen. The smallest it can project is 30 inches. It will auto focus for a clear view, and thanks to onboard sensors — like gyroscopes — it will be able to auto level the screen as well. The Freestyle delivers a full 1080p HDR-capable view as well, which is pretty impressive for a projector of this size. Samsung is also promising strong sound with 360-degree audio built in.
There are also microphones enabled for voice control from both near and far. This way you can ask Bixby or Amazon’s Alexa for specific content to view. You could also ask more smart speaker-centric questions like for the weather or a fun fact. And if privacy is a concern, you can disengage the microphone.
“It’s got all of the smart features that you would expect from Samsung,” says Schinasi. That means that it features a Tizen interface with support for major streaming services, a gaming mode and compatibility with AirPlay or Google Cast. You’ll just need to make sure Freestyle is on Wi-Fi. He also notes that The Freestyle will integrate with SmartThings. And while Freestyle doesn’t have many ports, you will find a micro HDMI and a USB-C port.
It’s also a lamp, a speaker and compatible with accessories
As we hinted at above, The Freestyle can also be a lamp. Included is a lens cap that can act as a filter for some light shows — including a starry night look or a groovy lava lamp effect. The lights display can also be reactive to sound, so in turn it can sync with a playlist for a full immersive light show.
You can also connect and use The Freestyle as a stand-alone speaker. We haven’t heard the sound quality just yet, but we imagine it can pack a punch given our experience with other Samsung devices like TVs and soundbars.
The Freestyle will only come in white, over what appears to be an aluminum and metal finish, so while it’s a fun product, the color choice is limited. If you want to mix things up, you’ll need to purchase a skin from Samsung for $29. The brand will offer these in three colors: green, pink and yellow. A Bespoke version of The Freestyle, like Samsung offers for refrigerators and the Galaxy Z Flip 3, would have been pretty neat.
Samsung will also be selling a Base Accessory for $79.99 that lets you screw The Freestyle into a standard lightbulb socket. It’s unique to say the least and seemingly would allow you to place this projector on a lamp. Since this projector is designed to go anywhere and everywhere, you can also power it via a USB-C-compatible battery. Samsung will eventually sell one, but you can also pick up one from Anker for likely a lot less.
And for those who want to take it outside, Samsung is selling a carrying case for $59.99. Those who preorder The Freestyle before Jan. 24 will get that carrying case for free.
The Freestyle is certainly a unique and expensive product that feels to be targeting someone who wants one device instead of many. Given the bevy of accessories for it as well as its functionality as a TV or speaker, it’s really designed for a millennial — one who wants to spend $900 on a device.
We’re naming The Freestyle as a finalist for most innovative TV and home entertainment accessory for CES 2022. It’s not the most affordable category in the TV space, but it does deliver a lot in return for its price point. We’ll be sharing our full finalists later this week ahead of the top picks in each category.
If you’re sold, you don’t have to wait to preorder. Samsung’s taking preorders now for The Freestyle at $899.99, and the device will begin arriving to customers on Jan. 24. Until that day, you’ll score a carrying case at no extra charge with the preorder of the projector as well.
We’ll be circling back soon with a hands-on and full review of The Freestyle in the coming weeks.