Is the ultra short-throw projector finally about to storm the home entertainment market? A staple of corporates and education, their ability to cast a huge image when placed close to a wall, rather than rely on a long throw and screen, would seem to make them ideal for domestic applications. Other brands have hinted as much – LG has touted its prohibitively expensive Hecto laser projector Stateside, while Sony recently presented 4K short-throw projection as a home-of-tomorrow concept. At £1,500, the Philips LED DLP-powered Screeneo is a rather more real-world proposition.

The HDP1590 comes in a carry bag and sports a modern aesthetic. Indeed, it looks rather like a large Bluetooth sound system. Despite the compact form factor it offers much the same functionality as a connected TV. There’s an integrated TV tuner, Smart portal and media playback.

Wall-facing connectivity includes two HDMIs, a digital audio output, twin USBs, a pair of stereo phono inputs, Ethernet, PC VGA connector and 12V trigger. Slide down the front-facing Philips logo and you’ll find an additional HDMI input, plus SD card reader, USB, headphone jack and focus wheel. The projector even offers Bluetooth streaming and has integrated Wi-Fi.

Depending on its distance from the wall, the Screeneo will throw an image 50-100in across. Setup takes just a few minutes: sit it low, positioned some 10-45cm from a wall, and power it up. Outside of simple keystone correction, there’s little image manipulation offered or required. Alternatively, it can be ceiling-mounted and the image inverted.

While not excessively bright, the Screeneo performs well in moderate levels of ambient light and positively glows in full blackout conditions. Colours are rich and impactful. However, resolution is limited to 720p (actually 1,280 x 800). This makes it a bit of a non-starter for next-gen gamers and proper home cinema. Even worse, the DVB tuner is standard-def only and looks pretty rough at this size. Things improve considerably if you feed in an HD set-top box or Blu-ray, and it performs well with dimensional BDs – there’s very little overt crosstalk. One pair of active glasses are included in the box.

Both on a network and from USB, the projector supports a wide variety of video files, including MKV, MPEG, AVI and MOV. Audio support is similarly extensive and includes FLAC. You can also mirror smartphone content using Miracast. Interestingly, the HDP1590 actually uses a version of the Android OS and comes preloaded with YouTube, a web browser and Office. An onboard sound system, rated at 26W, is surprisingly decent.

So close to the mark

Overall, the Screeneo can be considered a lot of fun. While its limited resolution and basic DVB tuner rule it out as a primary display device, it’s easy to imagine it in an entertainment den or kids bedroom, or being called upon for big event screenings. Philips has got the form factor and Smart stuff spot on, it just needs to fine-tune the specification.