Inflatable SmartDigital Handitheatre Hands On

How much fun can you actually have with an inflatable cinema? Gizmodo Australia wanted to find out -- but the weather wasn't having any of it.

We covered the SmartDigital Handitheatre a couple of weeks ago , and when the chance to review one came up, we jumped at it. Sure, the summer weather meant we might have to wait until around 9pm to actually watch an outdoor movie, but that's part of the fun of summer, right?

Unfortunately for us, the weather had other ideas; for the entire period we had the Handitheatre in the office, it pelted down with rain, making any kind of venture outdoors a rather soggy prospect. So we did the next best thing, and assembled the Handitheatre indoors. Sure, it's not what it's intended for, but we were determined to get a feel for how hard it was to assemble and what the kind of quality you could expect from it.

This is the bag it came in. Are you excited yet?

An uninflated Handitheatre against a wall.

Which means it's time to apply an air pump. The thought did cross my mind that it'd be easier to move around if you filled it with helium, but that could be rather costly, and it would float away, which would be a waste of your money.

The screen in all its glory. Or in this case, a rather grubby state, which highlights a problem with the Handitheatre. It has been through a reviewer or two before us, and picked up some onscreen grime, which has led to a problem that only really becomes apparent when we deflated it.

And now… Smurfs! Don't blame me; it was what was already in the drive of the supplied Blu-Ray player in the so-called "Smart Box".

The actual playback and projection are fine, but we've got a few grumbles with the Smart Box's design. For a start, the Samsung Blu-Ray player doesn't sit quite snug in our review unit. Instead, it kind of rattles about. Anyone else not like the phrase "rattles" when it comes to Blu-Ray, or is it just me?

The feet for angling projection are really rather poor. Your need for them will depend on where you place the projector, but we found it was easier to rig up a box to gain the optimal angle.

Hope nobody needs this room for a while… it's a bit tough to get in.

Time to deflate. This is where it becomes clear why the screen's so grubby; if you don't have a groundsheet underneath it (not a concern for an office installation), then the screen's going to sink down onto the dirt underneath it, picking up grime along the way.

Deflation is a fairly quick process.

So is it worth the money? Well, aside from the whole "Hey, I've got an inflatable cinema" aspect, I'm not sold on the value equation. Admittedly, a solid chunk of the asking price is in the projector (and to a lesser extent, the Blu-Ray player), but given that you'd have to wait until relatively late at night right now to get clear images from it, and deal with any neighbourhood complaints when you set the speakers up, I can't see too many people getting that much usage out of it.

All of this means it's a rather expensive way to play movies in your backyard, and you're not likely to be able to do that all that often anyway.