Review: Favi RioLED-V Pocket Projector

Since their introduction a few years ago, pico projectors have improved considerably in both picture quality and brightness. But for the multitasking RioLED-V, it seems that this machine is firmly stuck in 2007 timewarp.

The main problem with this portable projector is that it spreads itself too thin. Instead of focusing on brilliant images, Favi tosses in a Wi-Fi, a Linux OS and a couple of apps making this device feel more like a half-assed notebook.

Actually half-assed is too kind. The RioLED-V feels more like an incomplete monkey-human hybrid that a mad scientist abandoned so he could get a taco salad.

The device emits a mere 12 lumens (the final will top out at 20 lumens) rendering images slightly gauzy in rooms with even a small amount of natural light. That’s not so bad if you only watch movies after dusk — or are a vampire — but who wants to draw the blinds closed just to read e-mail? (It might be good for watching porn, but we didn’t test that. Swear!)

There’s also a handful of preloaded apps — a bare bones YouTube portal, a photo viewer, internet radio and a weather widget — but no web browser. What. The. Eff? The side-scrollable menu screen is easy to navigate, though the wee wireless keyboard and remote control require a direct line of sight with a tiny infrared sensor located on the back of the chassis. Wander a few inches to the right and the peripherals play dead.

The RioLED-V supports a slew of file formats, including AVI, H.264, Divx and Xvid, but doesn’t offer many ways to access them. In addition to a slot for SD/MMC cards on the rear panel, and 4 gigs of internal memory, there’s a USB port reserved exclusively for thumb drives (no external hard drives, iPhones and other media players permitted).

Headscratchingly, the dual 3.5mm A/V jacks are both outputs, one for routing media to a TV or secondary projector and the other for hooking into a speaker. During tests on an early production model, we discovered a near fatal flaw: When either outie is populated, the internal projection engine shuts off. (Note: Favi tech support says a solution is on the way.)

In attempting to be multiple devices at once, the RioLED-V lost sight of what it was meant to be: a portable projector. We’re hopeful that the folks at Favi will correct some of the flaws in this portable, namely the projection performance. But as of right now we just can’t recommend it.

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