The amazing success of the Switch has led to some equally amazing crowdfunding campaigns for must-have accessories, the most notable of which are the Switch Charge case and the OJO Projector. Both of these products massively over-performed in their initial funding drives, and both have endured a rather sluggish route to market. SwitchCharge is only now making its way into the hands of backers (and, if reports are to be believed, in a painfully slow fashion) while the OJO – which raised $270,966 (687% of its goal amount) last year – has also arrived on the scene slightly later than originally planned.
Pitched as the world's first portable projector for the Nintendo Switch, it's easy to see why so many people backed the OJO. Compact and versatile, this is – on paper – the ideal accessory for Nintendo's hybrid console. Not only does it project gameplay footage onto any flat surface up to a size of around 120 inches corner to corner, it also acts as a dock, is totally portable, can charge other devices via USB and act like a normal projector, thanks to its HDMI input. All of this functionality is packaged within a device that measures just 172 x 80 x 70mm – small enough to fit inside most average-sized satchels or rucksacks.
The OJO uses a Texas Instruments Digital Light Processing system which delivers a crisp, colourful image at 854 x 480 resolution, with a brightness of 200 Lumens. While the resolution might sound disappointing and the brightness a tad low when compared to other projectors on the market, in reality things are a lot more positive. Sure, visuals look slightly pixelated in places and text can occasionally be harder to read, it's not the deal breaker many had anticipated – especially when you consider how large the overall size of the projected image is. We played a wide range of Switch games and while there's definitely a trade-off when it comes to visual fidelity, it's one we can just about live with – especially when you take into account the contrast ratio of >1000:1, good colour balance and a 'punchy' picture. Even in a moderately light room, it's possible to see the image perfectly clearly.
Audio is supplied either by the built-in speaker or via the 3.5mm output, which means you can connect the OJO to your stereo or portable speaker system. To be honest, there's no real need to, as the speaker is incredibly loud with good bass reproduction. In a modest-sized room it will positively drown out any other noise, which is a good thing, because the OJO has not one but two fans inside to keep things cool, and these get very noisy indeed. One 7,600 RPM turbo fan (working in conjunction with a copper radiator) ensures that the projector itself doesn't get too toasty, while the other 11,000 RPM fan keeps the Switch itself at a reasonable temperature. Even with this dual fan setup, you can expect both the projector and your console to be pretty warm after an hour of use; for this reason, the team behind OJO don't recommend using the device in a hot environment.
The OJO comes with its own PSU which tops up the internal LG-made 20,400mAh battery. Once fully charged this can be used to run the projector anywhere you wish, and offers around four hours of use. Alternatively, you can toggle the OJO to charging mode and it will fully replenish your Switch console's battery three times over. There are also two USB sockets on the back of the OJO which allow you to charge compatible devices, such as smartphones or tablets. Next to these is a HDMI-in port, which allows you to turn the OJO into a multi-purpose projector capable of displaying any image via a HDMI connection.
The OJO takes a few seconds to properly boot up from a cold start, and once it's running you can adjust the focus and volume using the buttons on the top of the unit. There's a little kick-stand underneath which allows you to angle the projector to get the best picture, and in a really neat touch, the unit actually senses the angle at which it is pitched and adjusts the image accordingly to ensure it's nice and flat against whichever surface you're using. Because of this, you can actually position the OJO at quite a sharp angle (ideal when you're in a small room and close to the wall) and the image is automatically manipulated to ensure a decent picture.
When you're running the OJO off its battery, the brightness level drops after a few minutes to conserve stamina – to get maximum brightness, you need to be running it from the mains. As far as we can see, there doesn't seem to be any way of overriding this setting, but as long as you're in a sufficiently darkened environment, you shouldn't really have many complaints.
One thing that might raise a few eyebrows is the price. At $400 / £300 the OJO is very expensive for what it is; stand-alone projectors are available for significantly less cash, and while they lack the portability and elegance of the OJO setup, they're often comparable in terms of picture quality and offer superior clarity thanks to their higher resolutions. It's important to remember that 1080p isn't automatically better than the OJO's 480p because the Texas Instruments DLP system is fantastic, but when you look at the massive gulf in cost, it becomes harder to justify the OJO over its many rivals in the projector space – even when you take into account the unit's many other features, such as dock functionality and an internal battery.
Another thing that may give you pause for thought is the fact that the company behind this product has been incredibly candid when it comes to talking about its next project, the OJO 2. Even though the original is only just hitting the market, YesOJO is already hyping up the sequel, which makes you wonder if it's all that wise dropping such a large sum of cash on something which could potentially be old news in a few months. You may also be wary of buying a third-party projector with docking capabilities, given the recent issues Nyko has had with its own docks following the Switch 5.0 firmware update. YesOJO has assured us that the device is constructed to the, "highest standards," but we were also told that, "The OJO team will promise that we will take full responsibility if anything [goes] wrong with the system," – make of that statement what you will, but it sounds to us like the company isn't totally certain that the OJO won't brick your Switch.
We also have some slight doubts regarding the reliability of the unit, too. During our review the light flickered repeatedly at one point, and on another occasion there was no audio output. Undocking and redocking the Switch was enough to solve both of these issues – and they only happened once, we should add – but it would appear that YesOJO has a few gremlins to eradicate when it comes to the device's performance. These may well be addressed in future units.
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Ultimately, we've really enjoyed our time with the OJO; it really does take the Switch experience to the next level, and being able to take the projector anywhere – outside, on camping trips, to a friend's house – is a real boon, and turns the Nintendo's 'any time, any place' ethos to the next level. However, the 480p resolution is behind the curve even when compared to cheap-and-cheerful projectors, and the fact that the OJO 2 is very much on the horizon means you'll have to seriously consider your purchasing decision before dropping such a large sum on this.