This week's update includes the high level feedback from the pilot program, the latest status of the optics quality issue, and a couple quick video demos!
We want to thank all of our Pilot Users again for the time and effort they put into testing and providing feedback! Below we give a high level summary of the feedback we received.
Some of the features the Pilot Users liked:
Brightness: SPUD is bright enough, and adjusting the brightness is useful.
SPUD pop-up: Very easy to do, most got the hang of it after only one or two pop-ups.
Speakers: Built-in speakers were a great addition when streaming videos.
Battery: Users generally liked the USB-C charging and the battery indicator. It was “very convenient” to be able to power SPUD and other devices without needing a wall outlet.
Compactness when folded: Small enough to easily carry around (and got through airport security without issue!).
The great news here is that our Pilot Users didn’t uncover any major issues. That said, they did raise some great points, and we have already started working on some potential improvements based on their feedback:
Image quality: The lens/focus needs improvement before release, as we mentioned in previous updates.
OUR ACTION: We are continuing to make progress here, see next section.
Screen attracts dust: Users found that the screen can build up static electricity and attract dust, especially when carried around with the screen partially exposed.
OUR ACTION: After some discussions with our screen manufacturer, we believe it would be difficult to make significant changes to the screen composition to reduce static without impacting the light dissipation and wrinkle mitigation. Before release, we will (1) produce and test a screen with a more matte finish, which our initial tests show should reduce static, and (2) we will create better instructions for packing screen inside the cover.
Battery life and Contrast: Battery life suffers when powering a Chromecast and running on the highest brightness setting. The contrast generally looked good, though rooms flooded with sunlight made the contrast suffer.
OUR ACTION: We have some options in the firmware that will potentially increase both battery and contrast, but at the expense of brightness. We are continuing to tweak these settings to find the right balance.
Screen tension: Not enough tension across the screen, which can cause some image distortion around the edges (especially when used on non-flat surfaces).
OUR ACTION: We have been working with the arm supplier to strengthen the arm design, and they will start work on the new mold beginning in March. Additionally, we are testing adjustments to the the sewing template that loosen the shroud to keep the majority of the tension on the screen.
SPUD collapse down: Can be a bit cumbersome to collapse, since the spring-loaded arms always want to pop back out. This was generally not seen as a critical issue, but it takes a few collapse downs to get the hang of it.
OUR ACTION: The final, thinner shroud material should make this process a bit easier by reducing some of the bulk. We will also add some additional best-practices content to the printed manual and online support resources.
Here are a few things the Pilot Users had to say:
“I've had the great fortune to receive a pilot SPUD. This product greatly exceeded my expectations. Resolution, clarity, and most importantly - mobility were high on my list and the product absolutely delivered.”
"It’s been a fun week testing out a pilot SPUD. Everything has turned out as expected and will be even better with points addressed in the update. Work is already more pleasant having a large, sharp second monitor that fits right in my briefcase. Excited to see the final product!"
"My son picked it right up!"
The 5V USB Power output was "super convenient when using SPUD with a Chromecast at random places around my house."
"I liked the portability and the all-in-one for the video and sound."
"Great idea, and I am glad I was able to contribute to the effort!"
The current supplier has made progress by improving the quality of one of the smaller lenses in the wide angle converter assembly. While they are breaking for Chinese New Year, we are currently evaluating:
If the improvements are good enough for MP
How we can potentially improve the wide angle converter performance by testing varied combinations of projectors, lenses, and ways of holding the lens and projector (e.g. mounting) in our lab space in Rochester, NY as part of the Luminate Accelerator:
We remain hopeful that there is a solution with the current lens and manufacturer, since that would enable us to ship you your SPUD sooner and save us a large amount of money. Shipping with compromised image quality is non-negotiable, and we will continue to work toward a solution.
Lastly, we have a couple of demo videos for you to see SPUD in action. Expect to see more of these in the coming weeks!
Thank you all for your continued support! -Justin, Leonard, George, and Alex