Posted on January 3, 2023 By Phil Jones
The ZenBeam Latte L1 includes four preset picture modes. PRESENTATION mode is the brightest while STANDARD and THEATER delivered the best picture quality. For those who need to maximize the projector’s battery life when viewing content on the go, there is also an ECO mode.
When it comes to the picture quality of an ultra-portable projector like the ZenBeam Latte L1, it’s all about managing your expectations. The ZenBeam Latte L1 is a tiny LED smart battery-powered portable projector that retails for less than $500. When looked at from this perspective, ZenBeam Latte L1 picture quality was better than what I expected for its price point and its size.
The projector’s color reproduction was better than many ultra-compact portable LED projectors that I have seen. While skin tones, look greenish on many compact LED projectors. While skin tones weren’t completely accurate, they looked pretty good on the ZenBeam Latte L1.
Since most of the projector’s target customers are probably not going to utilize a projection screen, the Latte includes a wall color adjustment mode. The goal of the mode is to provide fairly accurate color reproduction when projecting images on a non-white wall.
The ZenBeam Latte L1 is not a home theater projector, so don’t expect deep blacks, but it does a decent job reproducing enough shadow detail to satisfy its target customers.
ZenBeam Latte L1 has a rated brightness of 300 LED lumens. Since ASUS doesn’t provide an ANSI lumens rating, I took the time to measure it. I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens, which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI lumens.
I measured the ZenBeam Latte L1 in its brightest picture mode, which is PRESENTATION, and ensured the unit’s BRIGHTNESS was set to “100.”
The ASUS ZenBeam Latte L1 measured 133 lumens.
While 133 lumens of brightness is not a lot, the ZenBeam Latte L1 was bright enough to watch TV and movies in a darkened room during the day. ASUS states that the ZenBeam Latte L1 can be used for screen sizes up to 120 inches, but based on its light output, I think the projector looks best on screens smaller than 70 inches. While PRESENTATION mode is the brightest, switching the projector to STANDARD mode still delivered about 80% of the light output but with better color accuracy.
The projector can also be utilized as a Bluetooth speaker and the built-in battery will give you up to 12 hours of audio playback. The built-in 10-watt Harmon Kardon sound system delivers good sound quality based on the projector’s small size. While the sound system is not very big, it plays more than loud enough to use in a dorm room, den, or bedroom. The Latte has three preset audio modes to maximize the sound quality when playing music, movies, or a game.
MOVIE mode enhances vocals and audio effects to improve the cinematic listening experience while the MUSIC mode enhances bass, and its EQ curve is designed to sound good regardless of the music genre. The GAME Mode is designed to deliver a more immersive in-game sound and clear vocals to improve gaming play.
ASUS states that the built-in 6000 mAh battery will deliver up to 12 hours of audio playback or 3 hours of video playback when the picture mode is set to Eco Mode. In addition to brightness, other factors can reduce the projector’s battery life. For example, how loud you are playing the sound and whether you were utilizing the projector’s built-in apps.
To test the unit’s battery life, I connected the projector to my Nvidia shield via HDMI, set the projector to Eco mode, and the volume to a moderate level. The projector’s battery lasted about three hours, which is in line with the ASUS rating. In the much brighter STANDARD mode, the battery still lasted over 2 hours which is enough time to watch a full-length feature film.
In order to access all the projector’s features it requires you to utilize 3 different menu systems. Most picture and sound adjustments can be made via the projector’s main menu. However certain functions can only be accessed from the Android menu system. Lastly, you will need to utilize the menu of the Aptoide TV app to search, download, and utilize available services.
The ZenBeam Latte L1 can project on a blank wall or a screen, and its compact size and short throw lens make it ideal for rooms where space is limited. TV shows and movies looked good in the projector’s STANDARD and THEATER modes.
You can get a brighter or higher resolution projector around the same price as the ZenBeam Latte L1, but its feature set is pretty unique. There are very few projectors that retail for under $500 that can match this projector’s combination of ultra-compact size, battery power, picture/sound quality, and smart features.
Spending about one hundred dollars more for a higher-end projector like an LG CINEBEAM PF510Q ($599.00 SRP) would get you Full HD (1080 x1080), more brightness, and a more advanced WebOS or Android TV operating system. However, if you are looking for an ultra-compact smart projector to use in a bedroom, dorm, barracks, or to take camping, the picture and sound quality of the ZenBeam Latte L1 make it a very good option.
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