The Asus ZenBeam E1 is an ultra portable projector that can beam an image up to 120 inches. It has a built in battery that can last up to 5 hours. The projector can also be used to charge mobile devices over USB. Mini projectors like these have become common solutions for people that want a convenient way to bring a screen anywhere for presentations or movies on the go. One of the main considerations when purchasing a projector is the amount of lumens of brightness that it can project. The amount of brightness can have a significant effect on picture quality. I’ve tested the Asus ZenBeam E1 in a variety of environments to see how it performs and how it handles different situations.
Impressive high quality design
This projector features an all aluminum construction that looks and feels expensive. The bevelled edges and stylistic vents deliver an impression that this is a high quality device. A built in lens cap that neatly slides to the side provides a convenient way to protect the lens. I appreciated this solution, as protecting lenses on cameras or projectors usually involves constantly removing a lens cap that is bound to get lost.
The top of the device features four buttons for easy access to the most frequently used settings. This includes controls for scene selection, volume adjustment, and menu. The buttons provide a tactile feedback and are easy to find in the dark. A focus dial is located near the lens. I did find the dial to be sensitive as the focus would jump with only minor adjustments. I would have preferred a stiffer tension that provides more fine tune control. There is also a 1/4 inch socket underneath the projector so you can mount the device on a mini tripod.
Packed with useful features
Enormous screen with helpful assistance
The Asus ZenBeam E1 is capable of projecting a giant 120 inch screen from about 4 metres away. Keystone correction will automatically adjust the image to preserve the correct aspect ratio when the projector is at an uneven angle. This feature comes in handy if you are not able to project from a flat surface or if you have limited space available. While the 480p resolution is not High Definition, the colours are surprisingly vibrant and the picture is clear.
An unexpected 2-in-1 device
A unique feature on this projector is it’s ability to use its 6000 mAh battery to charge devices over USB. The size of this projector is only slightly larger than a standard external battery, so this could be a great 2-in-1 portable solution for projection and portable charging. I was able to leave my portable charger at home and still have the ability to charge my phone on the go.
Built-in SonicMaster speaker sounds great for its size
A built-in ASUS SonicMaster speaker is located at the rear of the device. It has 10 volume levels and it can deliver decent sound if you are planning to stay near the speaker while using the projector. The projector also features an auxiliary output, enabling you to listen to audio over headphones or connect a larger speaker. Alternatively, you can also connect to a bluetooth speaker through the connected device. I found the built in speaker provided surprisingly robust sound and I didn’t have to use other alternatives for audio.
Setting up the Asus ZenBeam E1
Connecting the projector
The included HDMI cable can be used to connect to devices like laptops and gaming consoles. iOS users that want to connect their iPad or iPhone to the projector will have to use an Apple AV Adapter that is sold separately. If you want to connect an Android device, you will need an MHL compatible device and an MHL to HDMI cable that is also sold separately. Purchasing additional cables felt like a hassle at first, but the convenience of being able to stream presentations and Netflix from my iPhone was well worth the investment.
Automatic Keystone correction is very helpful
Once the projector is powered up and the device is connected, the keystone correction will automatically adjust the image to preserve a widescreen aspect ratio. I tested projecting from a variety of angles and the automatic corrections did a great job of maintaining the correct screen proportions. This feature is very useful when you want the screen to project at a certain height or above a presenter. Automatic keystone correction is usually found on expensive full sized projectors, so I was surprised to find it on this portable projector.
Easy access to settings
The brightness of the projector can be quickly adjusted by using the scene selection button that is conveniently located on the top of the device. The button cycles through Presentation, Theatre, Eco, and Standard modes. This delivers quick adjustments to brightness and picture settings without having to dig through the menus. For more manual adjustments, the menu has an intuitive interface and the different settings are easy to find.
Using the Asus ZenBeam E1
Automatic keystone correction allowed me to project in a variety of environments and situations without having to worry about image distortion. When I turned auto correction off, it took many manual adjustments to achieve the right aspect ratio. This proved how valuable the automatic correction can be.
This projector features a mid-range lumens rating for a pico projector. The 150 lumens on this projector can deliver 10 levels of brightness. I was able to use the projector at coffee shops and lightly illuminated rooms. I did find that the projection on higher brightness levels was more forgiving in rooms with some light. However, it is not bright enough to fully overcome a well lit environment. In rooms that are bright, you may experience an image that is washed out. The mid-range lumens does help with extending the battery.
The 5 hour battery life provided more than enough power to last through plenty of Netflix streaming and presentations. I was even able to use the remaining juice to charge my iPhone. I did find the proprietary charging plug to be a hassle as I needed to bring an additional charger when I wanted to charge the projector while on the go. It would have been nice to be able to charge over Micro USB. This could allow users to also charge and power the device with external batteries. For most cases, the 5 hour battery was more than sufficient and recharging on the go wasn’t much of an issue.
Final thoughts on the Asus ZenBeam E1
The Asus ZenBeam E1 is a great and well rounded ultra portable projector. It has an incredible build quality that looks and feels expensive. The 480p resolution is good for presentations and it’s suitable for makeshift movie nights in remote locations. I was very impressed by the battery life and its ability to charge other devices over USB. Since it is a very compact device that can serve as a portable battery pack and a projector, there is incentive to bring it everywhere. The 150 lumens of brightness can provide some flexibility for use in different environments. However, it’s not enough to prevent faded images in bright rooms. Overall, the Asus ZenBeam E1 provides an impressive combination of features in an incredibly small package. If you are in the market for a portable projector, the Asus ZenBeam E1 is definitely worth the investment.
There are a diverse range of projectors that are available to meet your business or entertainment needs. You can find the latest in projection technology by checking out the great selection of projectors at Best Buy.