HandiTheatre

Ever dreamt of hosting summer movie screenings in the backyard? Then the HandiTheatre may just be the ticket for you — if you can stomach the price, that is.


7.8
CNET Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Design

There are three rolling cases for storing and moving the HandiTheatre around: an oversized dufflebag for the screen, its frame, remote controls, wires and accessories; and two hard cases, one for the sound system and the other for the projector.

The system consists of a white screen that, depending on which package is ordered, measures either 2.5m (98-inch) or 3m (118-inch) diagonally. Inflating the frame for the screen takes about a minute when the included blower is fully charged. Depending on how diligently you deflate the frame and fold the screen into the dufflebag-on-'roids there may be the odd wrinkle or two on the screen sheet.

To get moving images onto said screen there's a steel-cased Smart Box, which houses a projector, amplifier and Blu-ray player. The steel case ensures that the enclosed devices don't need to be treated with kid gloves, while also offering a small amount of weather protection — a sliding shield over the top of the projector and permanent openings for the projector lens, inputs and outputs mean that full weather protection is impossible.

Features and performance

The Optoma EW539 projector lurking with the steel prison mightn't have much brand recognition, but it does the job required of it. Resolution goes all the way up to 1080i and the rated 3000-lumen output means that it will display viewable, if somewhat washed out, images from twilight onwards — naturally, it produces its best work at night.

Positioning the screen and projector requires a bit of forethought as the Optoma's working range is on the long side — between 3.35m and 3.65m for the 2.5m screen, and 4.05m and 4.4m for the 3m screen. Vertical keystone correction is available to help straighten the image out.

Disappointingly, neither component nor HDMI inputs sit alongside composite video, D-Sub VGA, stereo audio, auxiliary, XLR microphone and TV antenna ports at the back of the unit. The included Samsung BD-D6900 Blu-ray player goes some way in compensating for the lack of digital inputs, as it not only features a slot-loading Blu-ray drive, but also a TV tuner and USB port capable of playing back DivX and MKV files.

The supplied PA-style Behringer Eurolive B208D stereo speakers each pack an 8-inch woofer and 200W of output, enough to deliver good quality sound in small open spaces, such as a backyard.

Conclusion

If you've ever dreamt of hosting summer movie screenings in the backyard, then the HandiTheatre may just be the ticket for you. Unfortunately, the AU$3498 asking price for the 2.5m screen and AU$3998 for the 3m version will price most households outside of Toorak or Vauclause out of the market.

Mind you, if Smart Digital Australia or an events hire business offered the HandiTheatre for weekend rental, it would make quite a compelling case for itself thanks to its easy set-up and relative mobility.

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