Review: Canon Rayo S1 Portable Projector
Gets a lot right, but is hampered by some Google issues.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could carry a TV around with you everywhere? That’d be great for when you want entertainment, but probably back-breaking for the rest of the time.
Now, you don’t need to lug a heavy screen around, with the $250 Canon Rayo S1 Portable Projector.
So, what is it?
The Rayo S1 is a pocketable projector, capable of 100 lumens of brightness in WVGA resolution (854×480, 16:9 aspect ratio), at up to 84 inches in size. It runs Android (albeit an older version, like most non-phone devices), and has an onboard touchpad for navigation and controls.
It’ll mirror content from iOS devices, Windows laptops with Miracast, and other Android devices. At least, it’s supposed to, but I couldn’t get any of my Android phones to mirror due to Google restricting Cast to Chromecasts or similar devices. It worked great on my iPad though, which had no such issues.
You can also use the Rayo S1 to recharge your other devices, via the USB-A port. That’s a nice touch, meaning you don’t need to lug a power bank around as well as the projector.
There’s 4GB of onboard storage for apps, documents, video, etc, so you can use it for presentations as a fully self-contained unit. You can also browse the internet with the inbuilt browser, navigated with the touchpad. Oh, and you can plug a USB mouse or keyboard in because trying to type on the virtual keyboard with the touchpad is a special kind of torture.
You can’t use the Bluetooth when in projector mode though, that only works when it’s switched to audio-only mode. Great for hands-free calling but it feels like additional features for the sake of it, when Bluetooth for external speakers/mice/keyboards would be a better inclusion.
Is it any good?
Color, contrast, and brightness are all pretty good, certainly good enough for presentations or if you want a larger screen to watch movies on. It’s even better with the optional foldable screen, which gives you a more reflective, pure white surface to project onto.
The 3,800mAh battery gives about 2 hours of projecting time, but only if you turn the brightness down a bit. That’s enough for most movies though, or you can always plug in the charger.
There’s one issue that could be minor or a major one, depending on the mobile device you own… Google changed up how Cast works in Android 10, so it only sends to Chromecasts or Google Cast compatible TVs. That means it won’t mirror your screen to this projector, but as it’s already running Android, that doesn’t mean it’s a deal-breaker. Netflix should work if you sideload, but you might need an older version.
So, should I buy it?
If you have a Miracast-enabled Windows laptop, or an iOS device and want a pocketable projector, the Rayo S1 is a pretty good choice. It’s let down by the issues with screen mirroring on Android, making it a standalone projector if that’s the only device you have to mirror your screen from. Even with that limitation, the Rayo S1 does a good job of playing content, and the onboard speakers are a nice touch.
At $250 it’s not cheap, but then neither is anything portable. I could see the Canon Rayo S1 working well for college students, where they want portable entertainment to be where they are, without having to trek back to their dorm room.
A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.
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