Having a second display for your laptop or phone can be fantastically useful, but most of the time we’re stuck without one because who the hell lugs a monitor around outside of their house? (Answer: very cool and very dedicated nerds.) Portable projectors are one option, but a new Kickstarter campaign offers another solution: a collapsible projector-and-screen combo that pops open like an umbrella.
It’s called the SPUD or Spontaneous Pop-Up Display, and at The Verge, well, we can’t decide whether it’s terrible or genius. When collapsed, it looks like a deflated airbed: about the size of a big hardback book and weighing under two pounds. When opened, it's more like a light diffuser used by photographers. The projector itself sits at the back of the unit and throws the image up onto the 24-inch screen. There are HDMI and USB ports on the rear, internal batteries that last three hours on full brightness, and compatibility with a range of streaming services like Chromecast and Roku. You could use it for playing games from your phone, say SPUD's creators, or as a second screen at work, or for presentations.
All this sounds great, but there’s no denying the SPUD looks weird, like a miniature pop-up tent someone’s thrown onto your desk. It also takes up a lot of space, and it’s impossible to judge what the screen quality is like based on Kickstarter footage alone. Plus, prices for the SPUD start at $374 on Kickstarter, and for that same price you can also get a pico projector from Sony. (Although that ignores the main benefit of the SPUD: you don’t have to worry where you’re going to project the image.) All in all, we're just happy to see someone try out a new way of creating portable displays, even if the idea doesn't necessarily pop out as an immediate hit.