OJO Projector Review

Created by YesOJO

Release Date: December 25th 2017

Price as of Article: $399.00 USD, £299.00 GBP

Product was not provided for review.

Introduction

I have always been interested in the prospect of owning a projector for that proper home theater experience, but I never had the opportunity to do so.  After recently moving back to the United States from Japan, I had to leave behind my TV and other such devices forcing my PS4, Wii U and Switch dock into retirement.  Once I heard about the OJO, I decided it was finally time to make the leap and invest in a projector.

* Please note that I had difficulty getting high-quality pictures of the OJO as I lack a professional camera, so this review will mostly contain stock images.  I will update it later with more relevant images.

Projection Quality
OJO street fighter
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The recommended size of the display is between 30-120″.

Potential Screen Size
With the OJO you have quite a range of screen sizes you can project it at depending on the amount of space you have.  I currently have two projector screens set up in my house with one at 66″ and another at 86″.  The OJO looks great at both sizes.  It has a range of 30″ to 120″ according to the website, but I actually found that the resolution looks at its best when it is roughly 24″ but even then it still doesn’t look perfect.  If you move the projector any closer than that, you will start to lose image quality.  Once you are at 30″ or larger, the text starts to become a little more difficult to read, but it still looks great overall and you get the benefits of the larger sizes.

Brightness Is A Little Dull
Lumens are the measurement by which the brightness of the projector is determined.   Most average projectors have between roughly 1500-2000 lumens.  The OJO is a little less than that coming in at just 1200 lumens.  It isn’t perfect by any means, but the OJO looks great in practice when you are in a dimly lit room or, better yet, a very dark room.  The colors don’t quite pop as well as they do normally and the games end up looking somewhat dull compared to normal, but it is still very respectable especially when playing games that already utilize a bright color palette.  However, games which are already dark in nature become quite hard to play on the OJO since it becomes almost too dark to see.

You do not want to play the OJO in a well-lit room or outside during the day unless you have it at its minimum screen size.  Any larger than that, and the image becomes so light and dull that it is not worth the trouble.  At that point, just play in handheld mode or on a TV if you have one.  If you intend on playing it outside, you will have to wait until night to have any sort of enjoyable experience.  From the research I have done, the Lumens would have needed to be at least twice as high as they are in order for the projection to look decent at all in bright light.

 

OJO home screen
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This was the sharpest I could make the image.

Image Quality

The first thing on everyone’s minds when they hear of a portable projector is how good could the image quality possibly be.  The answer: not bad.  While the OJO is capable of receiving input from any HDMI-capable device up to 4K, whatever is run through it will be downscaled to its native resolution of 480p.  This results in an image that isn’t completely sharp, but still looks surprisingly respectable.  What I found was while the picture quality looked decent after fine tuning the focus, I could never quite get the text to sharpen.  This was particularly true with games that had small text in general.  Words in Skyrim, DOOM or Darkest Dungeon were difficult to read without really concentrating regardless of how focused I could make the image.  With that said, games which have large text such as Shovel Knight or Splatoon looked absolutely fantastic.  Retro-style games which already look suited to those kinds of resolutions in the first place are very well suited to it.

Another game which surprised me by how good it looked on the OJO was DOOM.  It is possible that I only felt like that because I am used to playing it in handheld mode where the resolution already drops to as low as 480p, but I found myself really impressed with the look of that game running on the OJO.  Everything looked bright and sharp, and it looked absolutely fantastic when in motion.  While the text was hard to read, DOOM has become my second-favorite game to play on the device only beaten my ARMS.

You are able to increase the size of the projection up to 120”, and some games are complimented very well by the larger sizes.  ARMS was one such game in my opinion.  I tend to play ARMS using motion controls, and I have one projector screen set up at 66″ which I can easily stand behind the OJO to play.  It feels natural to play that game with such a large image encompassing your field of view.  Just be careful!  While I was standing there directly behind it playing a particularly intense match with a skilled player online, I accidentally punch the OJO with full force and sent my Switch flying across the room clattering loudly against the floor!  Fortunately, neither the OJO nor my Switch took any damage from the event, but needless to say, my opponent took full advantage of the situation and proceeded to completely throttle me!

There were a few games I tested in the OJO which looked less than passable.  The three most worth mentioning were Skyrim, Xenoblade and Darkest Dungeon.  Skyrim looked decent enough to play, but it sometimes became less enjoyable when when distant creatures and landscapes became fuzzy, it was too dark to see clearly in dungeons and simply by the fact that it is so full of hard-to-read, small text.  Xenoblade just didn’t look good in general.  I found that it was just all-around fuzzy and frequently gave me headaches.  I think I will just be sticking to handheld mode for that one until I can get a proper TV.  The worst offender among the games I personally played on it was Darkest Dungeon.  Very little about that game looked even remotely decent on the OJO.  The character models and backgrounds looked okay, but that is a game designed around darkness and having a ton of small text to read.  Reading is such an important factor in that game that it is a constant struggle to do anything at all.  If you get an OJO, I absolutely do not recommend that you play Darkest Dungeon on it unless you play it with the screen size at 24″.

I found one trick which seemed to make it look better, but that could have been a placebo effect where my mind convinced itself that it had improved.  Switches are set to an automatic TV resolution, but you can go into the system settings and change that.  You can set it to always display in 480p, 720p or 1080p.  I set mine to 1080p, and it just seems to me like it looks a lot better than it did when it was in the automatic setting.  I’m not really sure if it actually helped, but it is something you could experiment with.

Can’t Get The Whole Image To Focus
One thing to note is from the time I got my OJO, I have been unable to get the entire image to focus.  Even when the OJO was squarely facing the surface I had it projecting onto, I could make the whole screen look really nice but always either the bottom-right corner or the top-left corner were slightly blurry.  I’m not sure if this was simply a fault with the one I received or if this is an issue with every single OJO.  This issue can be seen in the image of the home screen I used previously if you look at the word “continue”.  You will see that it is far less in focus than the rest of the words in the image.

Occasional Projection Lag
The bigger the screen size is, the worse the projection lag.  While it doesn’t happen often enough to really hinder the experience, it can still be rather annoying when you are trying to play a game which requires precise inputs such as in a fighting game like Brawlout.  You will know when it is about to lag when the screen adjusts itself briefly.

Also Worth Mentioning
Dealing with the projection and projection quality, it is worth noting that any HDMI-capable device you own can be projected through the OJO!  It is by no means limited to the Switch.  Anything from phones to an Xbox One X can be connected to the OJO via HDMI, but don’t go into it expecting any 4K projections.  Your image may be accurately projected through the OJO, but the resolution will naturally be down scaled to the native resolution of the projector.  It is still an excellent option, though.

Sound

With the OJO you have no need to buy a separate sound system as it comes equipped with one that works rather well.  Keeping true to the OJO’s philosophy of being an easily transported device, the sound system is completely built into it.  There is no need for separate speakers or anything of that nature.  The OJO may be a little bulky, but its speakers are cleverly built into it in such a way that the sound reverberates loudly and effectively from within the device.  In fact, it is so surprisingly loud that I frequently need to have it turned down to just the third from lowest setting.

The audio is generally clear, and I was very pleased by this aspect of the device.  However, occasionally the audio will crackle a little through the speakers and is naturally not going be to nearly as impressive as a proper surround sound system would.  If you have access to anything like that, it would obviously be the ideal way to have the home theater experience which a projector provides.  If not, then it isn’t a problem as the built-in audio still sounds great.

One oft-forgotten feature of the Switch is that if you are sitting close enough to it while it is in docked mode, you can plug headphones directly into the system to listen to it that way.  This is also possible when using the OJO.  I have found that because of the projection-nature of the OJO, I tend to be sitting rather close to the device itself.  More than close enough for a pair of corded headphones.  For those of you who have a good pair of headphones and will be playing it by yourself, then this is an excellent option to bear in mind.

Concept and Battery Life

OJO Camping GIF
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The entire concept of the Nintendo Switch is you have the capacity to bring your home console experience with you anywhere you want.  This is even expanded upon by the ability to split your Joy-Con for local multiplayer in tabletop mode.  It is a brilliant concept; however, that tiny screen can sometimes be a difficult medium to fully enjoy such multiplayer games as Mario Kart or Minecraft.  It is difficult enough to play local split screen in Minecraft on the Switch’s screen with two players much less with three or four.  If, for example, you are on a camping trip and wish to set up some four-player action on Fast RMX after a long day of hiking, it might not be fully enjoyable having everyone huddles around the one tiny screen struggling to focus on it.  However, if you have an OJO, that is not a problem!  The image might get a little distorted by the shape of the tent, but you can have a respectable, large screen to play with your friends on!  This sort of situation is precisely what the OJO is made for.

There have been many times when I was out and about with friends and brought out my Switch for us to play together.   Whenever I have done this, we have been able to play and have a decent enough time, but the one comment that inevitably comes is that the screen is a little too small for that proper local multiplayer experience.  There was another time when I went camping, and we unexpectedly ended up crashing at a friend’s house.  While there, I was telling him about it, and he was very intrigued.  However, he is exclusively a console gamer, and he needed to actually see it running on a big screen to get sold on it.  I didn’t expect to be in a place where I could have used a dock during that trip, so I didn’t bring mine.  If I had the OJO, I think I could have really blown his mind with it.

The functionality of the OJO truly allows you to bring that console experience with you anywhere you go.  The image may not be as crisp and clear as it would be on a TV, but that isn’t really the point of the device.  I’m sure the creators of the OJO could have included technology in it to allow it to project in true 1080p, but that would have had a significant effect on the price of the device.  What it does allow you is the freedom to truly take your Switch anywhere you want while having that console experience no matter where you are provided you have a surface to project on.

Respectable Battery Life
One of the most useful aspects of the OJO is that it is a fully portable projector.  To achieve that, it naturally requires a decent battery.  The OJO’s battery is capable of lasting a total of four hours when fully charged and can even serve as a battery pack to charge your Switch and your USB-charged devices.

Fantastic Form Factor
If you wanted to have this portable docked mode experience using a different portable projector with higher resolution, it is indeed possible.  There are some portable projectors with equally good battery life which can project in true 1080p at a similar price to the OJO such as the Apeman Mini Projector.  However, there are a few advantages the OJO offers Switch owners.  For example, the OJO is shaped the same as a Switch dock and operates in the same way.  You simply drop your Switch into it, your Switch enters docked mode, and the image is projected.  It is simple, intuitive and elegant.  If you were to purchase the Apeman, you would be required to bring it, your Switch, your dock and an HDMI cable just to do the same thing you could with only the OJO.  The OJO is incredibly convenient while on the go, and if you are not looking for a pristine home-theater experience, then it is the clear way to go.

Something you may be concerned about is that projectors tend to get very hot.  Putting your Switch into such a device seems at face value like a risky idea considering the dangers of overheating electronics.  However, the OJO comes with two powerful internal fans which regulate its temperatures well enough to prevent the Switch from ever getting too hot inside of it.  This clever design not only helps keep the Switch cool but also extends the potential life of the OJO since it is able to remain cooler while in use than most other projectors.

* This review was written by Brian Myers for switchwatch.co.uk.

Value
OJO Mario Kart
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As interesting as the OJO is, is it worth the hefty price tag?

The value is where things get a little more subjective with the OJO.  Just how worthwhile is such a device to you?  This will naturally be determined through what you hope to get out of it?   Are you looking for a high-quality, HD projector that you can watch your 4K movies on in their native resolution and play games with visual quality on part with a TV?  This projector is not going to be for you.  Are you looking for a decent portable projector which projects with clear, HD images, a bright projection and costs $200 or less?  You will probably come away from this disappointed.  However, if you are looking for a decent projector which will allow you to conveniently play your Switch games on a big screen while on the go, has a decent-looking image (but doesn’t display small text well), loud internal speakers, can last for up to four hours and don’t mind spending $400 for the experience, then you have a winner here.

Pros

P

Natively Designed For The Switch

P

Image Looks Good

P

Powerful Internal Speakers

P

4-hour Battery Life

P

Acts As A Battery Pack For The Switch And Other Devices

P

Can Project Any HDMI-Capable Device

Cons

P

Brightness Is A Little Dim

P

Small Text Is Hard To Read

P

Too Pricey For Most Consumers