Halloween is just around the corner, and that means time to start thinking about decorations. In a perfect bit of timing, AtmosFX sent me a digital decorating kit to try out. The $199 package includes a projector with tripod, window projection material, and 14 “movie” scenes (eight of which are Halloween-themed). Is the all-in-one digital decoration kit worth it? Here are my thoughts…
Unboxing and Setup
$199 may seem like a lot for a Halloween decoration, but considering some people pay $75 for inflatable pumpkins, that doesn’t seem so bad.
And the AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit is a pretty comprehensive collection of gear that not only works for Halloween, it can be used to decorate for other holidays and occasions. In the box is a projector, tripod, remote control (two AAA batteries are not included), 4 x 6-foot projection cloth with 3M adhesive tape, and 14 digital scenes pre-loaded on an SD card.
Setup was reasonably straightforward, but the reality of a projector and tripod combo priced under $200 quickly makes itself known.
Although the projector is extremely light plastic, I had trouble with the tripod holding its position when mounted vertically. In horizontal orientation, it was stable. When trying out vertical scenes (for taller windows), I ended up just propping up the projector. It’s also a little on the noisy side with the fan running as soon as it’s started up, and the frequently unresponsive buttons were an exercise in frustration. I didn’t find the remote buttons much better (they are also extremely closely packed and mushy), but at least using the remote is more convenient and doesn’t move the projector around.
There is primitive keystone correction and focus, but it was almost impossible to get the image perfect across the entire projection surface.
If all this sounds negative, it’s more a heads up that you cannot expect a home theater-quality multimedia projector and professional grade tripod in a box that totals under $200…
Downloading Scenes and Projection
As part of the kit, AtmosFX includes 14 professional quality scenes on an SD card, including eight that are Halloween-themed (there are also Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and generic celebration scenes). Some are live action (with special effects) and some are digital animations; all include a soundtrack. You can buy additional scenes from the AtmosFX website, with most ranging from $5.99 to $9.99 for a scene. Complete collections are also available at a discount compared to the individual scene prices.
With the kit, you can project the scenes on a window (using the included cloth) or on a wall. Some can also be projected onto an optional free-hanging cloth that creates a hologram effect. In addition, you can also play many of the scenes on a TV (they are .mp4 files). Each scene is labeled so you can see what projection methods it supports and whether it is intended for a vertical or horizontal display.
I focused on window projection to decorate the house for passersby. The kit includes a 4 x 6-foot projection cloth and 3M two-way tape to hold it up. I primarily used the bottom half of the split, vertical window in my office. Affixing the cloth tightly to the window so it was free of wrinkles and fold marks was easy enough to do. Getting the projector set up in the optimal position with was a little fussier, but once it was done, it can be left—you can choose a single scene or a series of scenes and just let it play and the scenes can be configured to repeat so you don’t have dead air.
The projector has limited resolution and not the world’s best built-in speaker (again, you cannot expect 4K resolution and Dolby audio for under $200), but the effect was very impressive. My kids were pretty excited about this one and helped with the setup and in choosing a few extra scenes to download. From the street, the low resolution and relatively low light level of the projector didn’t matter–it looked pretty cool.
AtmosFX also sent me a roll of its premium window projection material (sold separately), which self-sticks to the window and provided a crisper picture (the photos are all using the included cloth).
My only real complaint is around audio. I don’t care about the basic speakers, but it would have been really useful to offer Bluetooth support. There is a 3.5mm audio jack, but with the projector indoors (and on the second floor in my case), running a 3.5mm AUX cable to an external speaker would be a pain. Being able to connect to a Bluetooth speaker outside would have been perfect.
Projector Key Specs
- 4-inch single LCD panel, 16.8 million colors, 800 x 480 resolution
- 24W LED lamp with 300 ANSI LM (1800 market lumens) brightness
- Lamp life 30,000 hours
- Contrast ration 2000:1
- Projection distance 3 feet to 20 feet
- USB/SD/HDMI/Composite input
Using the projector was a little on the frustrating side, but given the price, I don’t really have anything to complain about there—although Bluetooth audio support would have been nice… Once it’s set up, you don’t have to touch it. Then you can sit back and enjoy the show. And the AtmosFX kit really does put on quite a show that’s visible from the street. The included scenes range from entertaining and kid-friendly to downright terrifying, so you’re equipped to decorate your house for just about any Halloween theme.
And unlike most Halloween decorations, the AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit can be just as useful for Christmas decorating, or for just about any special occasion you want to celebrate. It’s also worth pointing out that all the equipment is placed indoors, so there are no worries about rain, snow (here in Canada, we’ve taken the kids trick or treating in a snowstorm in the past), or vandalism.
I should also note that if you want to up the included projector quality, AtmosFX sells a $299 Digital Decorating Kit Plus that features a higher resolution HD version, plus a larger assortment of scenes—plus it has that Bluetooth connection that would have been so handy… That $299 kit would be the one I’d choose. At that resolution and its increased brightness, it could also pull double duty as a basic movie projector…
Disclosure: AmosFX supplied an AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit but had no input into this review.