Having ditched controversy magnet and former collaborator Kanye West, which it worked with on the bizarre-yet-loved Stem Player, Kano Computing has returned with an all-new, out-there device which this time allows you to remix video rather than music.
Kano first came to prominence with its neat education-focused products, which included a build-it-yourself laptop that was designed to be put together by kids, and this DIY digital camera.
The company went on to make headlines with its team-up with hip-hop star and occasional US Presidential candidate West for its Stem Player – a puck-shaped digital music remixing device that was at one point the only way to buy Ye’s Donda 2 album.
Having now cut ties with Kanye, the company has taken the wraps off its latest device featuring its Stem branding.
First reported by The Verge, Kano’s all-new Stem Projector is a portable video beamer that packs in a built-in battery as well as a selection of preloaded videos which can be manipulated by the user via haptic, touch-sensitive controls that are scattered on top of the device.
Much like its predecessor, the new Stem Projector comes in a unique synthetic flesh-like housing with an array of vibey-looking lights arranged around the top of the device. If you’ve seen David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ or Crimes of the Future, then it will look alarmingly familiar.
Quite what the included content is and how it can be customized isn’t completely clear at this stage, but according to CEO Alex Klein, Kano are “working with some of the best directors in the world, as well as some of the most interesting libraries,” with Mubi and The Criterion Collection both namechecked.
If you get bored of the provided clips, you can project content from other devices using its mini-HDMI input, while its wireless connectivity will also allow you to stream video from mobile devices via Chromecast and Apple AirPlay as well as streaming services, suggesting it will feature software such as Android – it sounds similar to a lot of what you get from the Samsung Freestyle projector.
There’s a built-in 256GB hard drive for storing your own content, which can also be expanded further thanks to a microSD card slot.
Intriguingly the device is said to make use of machine learning to tag videos stored on the device, which can then be viewed in an associated back-to-back stream as part of the projector’s “Galaxy Mode” feature.
The Stem Projector has an output of 150 ANSI lumens – meaning brightness akin to that of a Pico projector, while the built in battery lasts for a not-too-shabby four to five hours at full brightness.
Set to go on sale Monday January 17 directly from Kano in a limited initial run of 1,000 units at $1,000 a pop, the company says it plans to start offering the device as part of a larger run in a different colorway later in 2023 with a cheaper price tag of $600.
Klein also confirmed that a new version of its Stem Player featuring exclusive music from Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah is also on the way later this year.
(Image credit: Kano Computing / The Verge)
Analysis: Novel projector is likely to get outshone by rival portable beamers
Kano’s willingness to put out laudably unusual, educational products is something we have a lot of time for, but the Stem Projector has us scratching our heads.
Our experience of battery-powered Pico-style projectors is that they need almost absolute darkness for them to provide any sort of satisfying experience, and with its comparatively dim output compared to other projectors in this form-factor, we’re left pondering the design decision of placing a lighting array on top of the device which could further wash out images.
We’re of course overlooking the Stem Projector’s video remixing feature here, which will undoubtedly set it apart from similar beamers. But after the novelty of its “Galaxy Mode” has worn off, those early investors forking out a cool $1,000 for an underpowered device may not feel it was such a bright idea.
Looking to pick up a mobile movie device? Check out our list of the best portable projectors for 2023.