At R5,600, the Asus Zenbeam Latte L1 is pricier than its competitors, but for good reason. At 300 lumens its brighter than most others, it doubles as a portable speaker, and its design makes it both impressively alluring and un-rivaled in its portability. Which is, you know, the point of a portable projector. Pair that with a surprisingly good 720p projected display and more ways to connect than you'd need and you've got the perfect gadget for turning your bedroom into a quasi-home cinema.
There once was a time when portable/home projectors were for lame work presentations and forcing your friends and family to sit through your holiday photo slideshow. They’re still used for those things today, but they’re also far more frequently used for entertainment. Nowadays, projectors are cool. And the Asus Zenbeam Latte L1 is one of the coolest. Or hottest, depending on how you like your coffee.
Zenbeam me up, Scottie
Specs-wise, you’ve got a pretty solid little gizmo here. The Zenbeam Latte is a portable LED projector boasting a 720p display and 300 lumens worth of light output, which is pretty bright compared to other portable projectors. Your picture size is dependent on the projector’s proximity to whatever it’s beaming onto. 1 meter will give you a 40in picture, 2 will give you 80in, and the Latte tops out at 3m and a 120in picture. Naturally, the further away you get the less intense the brightness is. The picture is noticeably dimmer at a full 3m, but the picture quality is still surprisingly good. You can fine-tune the image’s focus with a little wheel on the side of the projector, too.
Lucky me, I have a big, flat, white wall on one end of my room and a desk at the perfect height to project from, but the Zenbeam Latte has some tricks up its sleeve to make it easy for you to project practically anywhere. Firstly, the base has a little kick-stand that leans it upwards, so you can tilt it to a degree without propping it up against a support of some kind. But that’s not all. Thanks to some cool mirror tricks going on with the projector, the projected image will auto-tilt based on the Latte’s and projected surface’s angle to keep the display as flat as possible. So even if your wall is at a weird angle, or if you have to lean it back further than 30°, you still get a stable rectangle to watch on. The sound is pretty solid, taken care of by a pair of 9-watt speakers courtesy of Harman Kardon.
Now, the Latte is a projector, so you’re obviously not going to get the same quality as you might get on a 4K TV, but for 720p the image quality is great. I tested it out on some anime, a few colour-heavy movie trailers, and even Mario Kart 8. While things look noticeably flat, colours are bright and the image is clear. The Latte did struggle a bit with darks though, so I wouldn’t recommend using it to play Dark Souls.
Its design is equal amounts form and function. As the name would suggest, Asus believes this gadget has the same size and shape as a coffee cup. I’ll give them size (kind of), but I’ve never had a coffee out of a cup that looks like this. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t look great though. The curves and dusky colouring are sleek and subtle, adorned with a fabric exterior. Asus says this improves sound quality. Whether that’s entirely true or not I can’t say, but it certainly looks and feels fantastic.
A Latte ways to connect
The top is kitted out with all the buttons you need to operate the Latte, like power, menu, volume control, and so on. Once you boot it up, some keys double as arrows for you to navigate the UI with. Or you can use the remote if you don’t feel like standing up.
You’ve got a few ways to connect to the Latte, but the most prominent one is by casting your mobile’s screen to it. Hook it up to the same WiFi network as your phone, choose either Apple or Android on the Latte’s menu screen, open up an app like Netflix or YouTube, hit the “cast” icon, and you’re good to go.
You can plug into the Latte with an HDMI cable too if you want to use it with a console or laptop. The HDMI port is found at the Latte’s base alongside its charging port, a USB-A port, and a headphone jack.
You can also connect via Bluetooth and turn the Latte into a portable speaker, which I found really cool. The sound quality isn’t going to blow your mind but it’s still good.
The Latte has a 6000mAh battery that will grab you 3 hours of video playtime, which is about the same as most portable projectors, if not a little longer. It’ll last you a movie or two, but don’t settle in for a series binge unless you’re going to leave the charger in. As a speaker, the battery will last you a solid 12 hours.
Like I said, the Latte really is similar in size to a tall takeaway coffee cup. It’s a little bigger, and weighs around half a kilo. This makes it even more portable than its competitors. It fits easily in my overstuffed laptop backpack, and if you can’t fit it in yours it comes with a handy carrying case too. It’s about as portable as portable projectors get, making it perfect for get-togethers and outdoor movie screenings with your friends.
Asus Zenbeam Latte L1 Verdict
At R5,600, the Asus Zenbeam Latte L1 is pricier than its competitors, but for good reason. At 300 lumens it’s brighter than most others, it doubles as a portable speaker, and its design makes it both impressively alluring and un-rivalled in its portability. Which is, you know, the point of a portable projector. Pair that with a surprisingly good 720p projected display and more ways to connect than you’d need and you’ve got the perfect gadget for turning your bedroom into a quasi-home cinema.