A Small, Bright Star Shines

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The Dangbei Atom stands diminutively at under 5 cm in height at tips the scales at a mere 1.24 kg. It also boasts a brightness of 1,200 ISO lumens. This makes the Atom one of the brightest and most compact mini projectors on the market based on the technical specifications. In this nextpit review, we discover whether features such as sound quality and fan noise suffer from such compact dimensions!

Good

  • Extremely compact and highly portable
  • Very bright with 1,200 ISO lumens
  • Google TV with native Netflix app built-in
  • Amazingly quiet

Bad

  • Moderate sound quality
  • Cannot be adjusted for proper alignment
  • No projector cover
  • No locking options
Dangbei Atom

Dangbei Atom


Dangbei Atom: All deals

In a nutshell

The Dangbei Atom is amazingly bright for such a small projector. Despite its size, this mini projector impressed us as it runs on the powerful Google TV operating system. It can be used with the native Netlfix app in the Google Play Store.

However, we have to take note of the rather poor speaker quality as a disadvantage. There is also no option to align the projector when placed on a flat surface. Apart from that, this is a highly recommended purchase!

Design & build quality


The chassis of the Dangbei Atom is all about compactness with dimensions measuring 19.5 x 19.5 x 5 cm. This is really small! Thanks to the square and flat chassis, it slots into backpacks easily and is hardly noticeable thanks to its light weight of 1.24 kg. What Dangbei left out, however, is the ability to align the projector on a flat surface.


Pros:

  • Extremely compact with a flat chassis.
  • Ingenius fan design.

Cons:

  • No locking options.
  • No protective cover for projector lens.

The first thing I noticed about the Dangbei Atom was the attractive packaging! You open the Atom’s box and lift the mini projector up via a fine fabric strap. This makes the “unboxing experience” of the Atom a far better one compared to Dangbei’s other models. That can certainly contribute to product satisfaction.

You can easily slot the Atom into any backpack.
The Atom’s chassis is really compact and fits well into backpacks and bags. / © nextpit

After placing the box aside, we found the Dangbei Atom to be an extremely flat mini projector. Its form factor reminds me a little of the Apple Mini, with dimensions measuring 19.5 x 19.5 x 5 cm making it extremely similar in size to Cupertino’s tiny computer. The 1.24 kg weight is extremely light, which is probably due to the plastic chassis. The high-quality plastic Dangbei used merges with the metal speaker grille on the side perfectly.

In front, Dangbei relies on piano lacquer which is the perfect fingerprint- and dust-magnet. The lens of the DLP projector is recessed deep into the plastic. There is also a camera and sensors for auto-locking out in front. If we were turn the projector over, we will find the following connections:

Dangbei Atom connectivity options:

  • HDMI with ARC support
  • USB 2.0
  • DC-IN
  • 3.5mm audio jack

There is also an on/off switch and a ventilation grille on the back. There are additional ventilation slots on the underside for more effective ventilation. Based on this design, it is not advisable to place the projector on pillows or on the bed. Other models such as the JMGO N1 Ultra offer more flexible placement options.

It would be nice to have more connectivity options in the Dangbei Atom.
The mini projector’s connectivity options leave a little to be desired. / © nextpit

We did not find any other direct control options on the projector. This means you don’t have the option of controlling content directly on the projector, as found in the Technaxx TX-127 (review). However, the remote control that Dangbei includes with the projector is really good.

Software and smart features


Surprise! Google TV powers the Dangbei Atom and not Android TV. This gives us a more up-to-date operating system that integrates itself very well with Google’s Home app. This makes it a little easier to set up and use it with iPhones. You can also use the Netflix app natively.


Pros:

  • Google TV is far more user-friendly than Android TV.
  • Native Netflix app.
  • Easy linkage with smartphones.

Cons:

  • Occasional lags in the operating system.

With the decision to use Google TV instead of Android TV, Dangbei hits the bull’s eye! The smart TV operating system is much more user-friendly in comparison and offers a simpler menu structure. Even the setup process which was performed via the Google Home app is a foretaste of how well the connection between the smartphone and smart projector will work in the end.

Thanks to the Chromecast feature, content can be conveniently selected on the smartphone and streamed to the projector, which even appears as a linked device in many apps under iOS. If you do not have a smartphone, Google TV seems to be more sophisticated than Android TV. Since Dangbei includes a compact and high-quality Bluetooth remote control, scrolling through menus is also fun. However, armed with only 2 GB of RAM, navigation via the operating system experiences the occasional lag.

Despite the small size, the Dangbei Atom's remote control is highly functional.
The remote control of the Dangbei Atom is compact but very functional! / © nextpit

I was surprised that current Android games could be played on the mini projector with a connected Xbox controller. The performance level was high enough that contents such as the mobile game “Asphalt 8” was playable. However, Google TV has another major advantage over Android TV: the Netflix app can finally be downloaded and used natively.

In addition to the native functions of Google TV, Dangbei also installed its own “apps” on the projector. For example, you can control the auto-lock or adjust the focus. All picture quality functions can be accessed via a button on the side of the remote control. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

Picture quality and auto-locking


Like many mini projectors that retail for less than $1,000, the Dangbei Atom displays content in Full HD at maximum resolution. Thanks to ALDP laser technology, the projector achieves a maximum brightness of 1,200 ISO lumens. From a technical perspective, the Atom also offers 3D compatibility and certification for HDR 10. With auto-locking, the projector’s image automatically aligns itself to your wall. Zoom is only available digitally.


Pros:

  • Fantastic brightness considering the size.
  • Nice and sharp even without 4K resolution.
  • HDR-certified and 3D-compatible upon request.
  • Surprisingly quiet.

Cons:

  • No optical zoom and digital zoom quickly becomes garbage in Full HD.
  • Auto-lock works more reliably in other projectors.
  • No protective cover for the projector lens.

If we were to look at models in our “Best Of” mini projector list, we find many models with DLP technology and a maximum Full HD resolution. Dangbei combined this compact and true-color projection technology with a bright light source based on ALDP laser technology. The advantage of laser projectors is how they do not require any heating and cooling times and also have a long service life. For the Atom, Dangbei specified a service life of 30,000 hours for the light source.

There is no protective cover for the projector lens in the Dangbei Atom.
The Atom’s projector sits behind a glass panel which unfortunately is not protected. / © nextpit

It is astonishing how bright the Atom is despite its small form factor. ISO lumens are measured directly on the screen and are considered a more realistic measurement for the brightness of the perceived image in the projector world. If we were to manually set the brightness of the projector to the highest level in the review, we are privy to all 1,200 lumens on a grayish wall. In a room with any windows and a glass door, we can also enjoy content during the day. However, the picture does look a little pale, so if you’re looking for a daylight projector, you still have to go for laser TVs such as the Formovie Theater or larger models such as the JMGO N1 Ultra.

Nevertheless, the brightness of the Dangbei Atom is definitely a plus point. Thanks to the clever chassis design, the manufacturer managed to ensure the projector is not unpleasantly loud even at full volume. When using the internal speakers, the quiet fan noise, which I would say is comparable with notebook fans, quickly fades into the background. I didn’t find it annoying in the review except when “dusting” the air slots using the integrated dust removal mode.

I would rate the picture quality of the Atom at a similar level to the other Dangbei models I have reviewed. Even without 4K resolution, pictures are crisp and sharp and on the same level as the Dangbei Mars (review). The colors are rather neutral by default, but can be made brighter via the projector’s settings and adjusted according to your preference.

You can use the Atom during the day as it is bright enough.
During the day, the Atom is bright enough to see content clearly. / © nextpit

Thanks to HDR 10, the Dangbei Atom should also be able to display HDR content. However in my opinion, the brightness level here is inadequate to create a wow factor. I suspect the same applies to 3D content, where the manufacturer’s optional 3D glasses darken the projector image even further. However, I would still count the fact that the projector supports 3D as a plus point.

Another real plus point is the integration of a ToF sensor and a camera for autofocus. This allows the Atom to align the projector image on your wall by itself. Many mini projectors now offer auto-locking and Dangbei leaves little to be desired here. The Atom recognizes screens by itself and automatically adjusts the displayed image, avoids obstacles by zooming in and adjusting content while straightening the image thanks to keystone corrections.

While the Dangbei Atom offers many functions here, I found the auto-lock function less reliable in the review compared to other models. The best in class here is again the JMGO N1 Ultra, which projects the projector image onto the wall without any distortion and sharply in 10/10 cases. However, as this model is significantly more expensive, I can forgive the Atom for its minor flaws.

A camera offers auto-locking capability in the Dangbei Atom.
Among other things, Dangbei installed a camera for auto-locking. / © nextpit

One design disadvantage is the lack of optical zoom. This means the projector has to zoom in on the image digitally, which leads to a loss of quality due to its maximum Full HD resolution.

Overall, the Dangbei Atom is one of the projectors with the best “size-to-brightness ratio”. What is impressive is how the projector remains nice and quiet during operation. Since mobile use is recommended, it is all the more annoying that there is no cover for the projection lens.

Loudspeaker


The compact chassis of the Dangbei Atom contains two speakers, each with an output power of 5 W. Unfortunately, the manufacturer placed both speakers on one side of the projector, which means there is no real stereo sound. As an alternative, you can also connect it to wired or wireless Bluetooth speakers. Conversely, the Dangbei Mars offers a Bluetooth speaker mode.


Pros:

  • Good sound for intelligible movies/series.
  • Bluetooth speaker mode is quite clever.

Cons:

  • Both speakers are located on one side.
  • Sound cracks at higher volumes.

Of course, the Dangbei Atom has internal speakers. Based on the technical specifications, we see two speakers at 5 W apiece, which results in a total output of 10 W. Unfortunately, both speakers are located on the left side of the projector, which can be annoying in many scenarios. If you were to place the projector roughly in the middle of your coffee table, the sound quality on the right side is significantly worse than on the left.

The relocated fan also saw the speakers shifted to the left side of the Dangbei Atom.
Dangbei placed the fans on the underside and moved the internal speakers to the left. / © nextpit

However, it is generally advisable to use a Bluetooth speaker (comparison list) with the Atom. Although the internal speakers are loud enough to understand and follow dialog in movies or enjoy effects in action sequences, the sound is not really that good. Due to the design, lower tones in particular cannot develop sufficiently and the overall sound is quite hollow. If you want to fill larger rooms with sound using the Atom, the speakers tend to crack at higher volumes.

However, the internal speakers of the Dangbei Atom offer exactly what they should in a mini projector: It is nothing but a makeshift solution that makes it possible to enjoy movies and series without additional peripherals. Nevertheless, other models, including its siblings like the Dangbei Mars or the Dangbei Neo, offer better sound quality.

Battery and power consumption


The Dangbei Atom does not have an integrated battery. The manufacturer also did not offer any accessories to operate the projector independently of power sockets. The manufacturer specified a power consumption of 80 W.


Pros:

  • Low power consumption.
  • Energy-saving mode available.

Cons:

  • No internal or optional battery.
  • Power supply unit is quite clunky.

I will be brief about the battery life and power consumption: There is no internal or optional battery. As the projector requires a 100 W power supply unit, you will need to carry a power station (see nextpit comparison) with you to use it independently of power sockets. However, the power consumption of 80 W is comparatively low. If you want to save power while watching movies, this is a good choice. Dangbei also offers an energy-saving mode in the settings.

"Look at the size of that thing!", says the Dangbei Atom to its power supply unit.
The power supply unit is comparatively large. / © nextpit

 

Final verdict

Mini projectors are reaching a level of quality that does not require them to hide behind conventional projectors anymore. With a powerful laser projector, the Dangbei Atom offers a high brightness level of 1,200 ISO lumens. The projector measures just 5 cm tall and 19.5 cm for both width and length. This makes the Atom extremely portable and fits very well into backpacks and large handbags.

When in use, the Dangbei Atom shines with Google TV as its operating system. This makes it even more convenient to use than other smart projectors. In addition, the Atom is one of the only projectors to support the native Netflix app.

What bothers us most about the Atom is the rather mediocre sound quality. By itself, this would not be a problem given the compact size, but Dangbei placed both speakers on the left side of the chassis. The inability to align the projector on tables is also a disadvantage as is the lack of a protective cover for the projection lens.

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