Laptops have been popular since they first appeared in the market. The value of being able to bring your data and work wherever you go cannot be overstated. Consumers want lighter and more portable laptops, and the industry has been moving in this direction over the years.
But greater portability means we sacrifice screen real estate. The largest laptops in the market top off at just over 17 inches. Anything bigger is rather unpractical. Yet, there are times when we wish for a bigger screen on the go.
Perhaps you’re used to your large display at home or in the office. Or you need to share the screen with someone. When I saw Splay on Kickstarter, my first reaction was, why didn’t someone think of this earlier?
But then after a while, I started to wonder why would anyone get this.
What is it
Splay is a 2-in-1 projector that comes with an expandable display. Splay’s portable display opens up as easy as it is opening your umbrella. The projector beams the image on the inside of the display to create a 24” Full HD. You can also shine the projector on a wall for a larger image up to 80” in Full HD as well.
The screen is ultra-bright at 800 nits to ensure that the screen is still usable in any brightness. But the brightness comes at a cost. Splay has a battery life of up to four hours. Probably good enough for when you’re on the go, but you’ll need to charge it for longer trips.
Another notable feature is its ultra short-throw projection distance. This means you can still use it in small spaces.
Splay can be stored in a carrying case to make it easy for you to bring it around. However, it still takes up considerable space when folded down. The portable display is around 35 cm (13.8 inches) long. This means the display takes up a good chunk of space on your office desk or cafe table.
Who is it for
If you find yourself working on the go and missing your second display at home or at work often enough, you probably need a portable display to give you more screen real estate. However, if you already have a MacBook and an iPad, then you’ll probably be happy with using the iPad in Sidecar mode.
Don’t have an iPad or a MacBook? Do you need just a second display, or do you need a 24” second display? If you don’t need a 24” display, there are many 14″ to 15” portable displays on Amazon you can consider.
Need a 24” portable display? Want a portable display and have the flexibility of using it as a projector too? Splay is for you.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the name of the product. Splay means to spread and open up, usually awkwardly. But it also means something else physiology. They probably didn’t do a thorough research when naming the product. At least it’s not as awkward as Facebook renaming itself as Meta without realising what meta means in Hebrew.
Is it innovative
Splay solves the problem of larger screens being harder to bring around. It is a 24” portable display for people who want large displays on the go.
It is innovative in solving the problem for a particular group of people. But if you ask me whether it is innovative as a product, I would say no. There are portable screens that are easier to carry around, and don’t take up so much space in use. Splay reminds me of a CRT monitor from the 2000s.
Splay claims to be innovative in three ways: the expandable display material, the ultra short-throw projector, and rugged retractable arms.
The display material is expandable and wrinkle-free. This is innovative. I give them that.
Short-throw projection is nothing new in the market, but they claim to be lighter than all the other ultra short-throw projectors available. I’m not so sure. I did a quick look on Amazon and most of the ultra-short-throw projectors are indeed heavier, but that’s because they are 4K projectors.
I would like to see Splay back up their claim with more proof. Otherwise it is just a marketing spin that holds no water.
As for the retractable arms, I’m sure they put in work to make the product good quality and durable. But the arms are very similar to what we see in modifiers for camera flash and studio strobes. These have been around for a long time. If Splay really did some innovative work in making this arms, I would love to learn more about it.
Is it worth it
Splay retails at $1299. If you catch it during the Kickstarter campaign, you can get it at $674 off. That’s about half price! What a bargain! Or is it?
Full HD portable displays cost around $130 to $400 on Amazon. You can get 4K portable displays for $200 to $560 on Amazon. That’s a staggering difference. Of course, these displays only come at 14” to 15”. They are supposed to be carried with laptops of similar sizes as well. They are thin and more portable than Splay with is bulky case.
So, if we consider Full HD portable displays, you’re paying three to ten times more for Splay because it is 24” and also functions as a portable projector.
When we consider all these, it makes me wonder what justifies paying so much for Splay?
What are the alternatives
Splay caters to a very specific niche: people who want portable displays that can go up to 24”.
There are no direct competitors in the market, probably because it is a small market. They have almost 500 backers on Kickstarter as of writing.
Others who want portable displays would probably be willing to settle for something smaller. They would be around the same size as your laptop and come in 4K for half the price of Splay!
For those who want a portable ultra short-throw projector, there are some options in the market but your choice is rather limited. Then again, how often do you need an ultra short-throw projector?
If you want to watch a movie or play games on an 80” projection, you should have enough space between you and the screen, and that space should be more than enough to use a standard throw projector. Otherwise, you would be too close to the screen and your field of view won’t even cover the screen’s width.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking for a portable display and you’re considering Splay. Ask yourself, do you need a 24” display or can you live with a smaller display? And how often do you need to actually use a portable projector in a small space?
Does it make more sense to use a small display in a small space? Why would you need a large projection if you are in a small space?
If you can answer these questions, then I’m sure you’ll be able to come to your own conclusion whether you need Splay.
Hi, I’m Big Cat.
I’m a young lion that identifies as a bear. Not a brave lion. No cat jokes.