Smithsonian Optics Planetarium Projector Review

Editor rating: 4.5/5

From the Smithsonian brand comes the Room Planetarium and Dual Projector Science Kit. This projector is a STEM-focused toy that's designed to educate young kids at an early age. Ideal for kids ages eight and up, the projector is also a suitable choice for adults looking to enjoy some cosmic views.

The light is simple and utilizes a suite of film-based discs to create realistic images anywhere you want. Best of all, it's portable, cost-efficient, and super easy to use!

But is it worth your money? Check out our in-depth review below to find out.

Specification:

  • Dual projector
  • LED lights
  • Rotating night sky
  • Utilized film-based slides
  • Up to 51 image combinations
  • Powered by AA batteries
  • Roughly 10 inches long, 7 inches wide, and
           10 inches tall
  • Weighs about 1.85 pounds

Smithsonian Optics Planetarium Projector Review

Despite all that the Smithsonian planetarium has going for it, it's not perfect. Above all else, this device is a STEM toy.


It's designed for kids and has somewhat archaic features to match. To help you determine if the Smithsonian Optics projector is the right buy for you, we've scrutinized some of the most important features and performance aspects this gadget has to offer.

Ease of use

One of the highlights of this projector is its usability. To put it simply, this device is so easy that young kids can figure it out without a hitch! It has a straightforward design and barely any buttons.

To use it, all you have to do is pop in some batteries, insert an image disc, and press the power button. That's it! You can get up and running in minutes. The LED lights inside will come to life, displaying the projected images on the wall nearby. You can then fine-tune the experience by adjusting the tilt and moving it closer to improve clarity.

There are no confusing features or overly complicated control panels. It truly is a plug-and-play kind of device.

Features

Unfortunately, a simple design does have its caveats. When it comes to features, the Smithsonian Optics planetarium is severely lacking.

You don't have many adjustment options here. In fact, the LED light will only project one color and one brightness level. You can't customize the experience when it comes to lights and colors.

You can, however, change up the images. This device is a dual projector. The large circular lens on the front of the projector creates the base image. It recreates the night sky in the northern hemisphere. The lens also rotates to simulate the experience you have looking up at the stars a bit better.

That alone is pretty captivating enough. However, the Smithsonian gives you more options with the smaller projector below. It is responsible for creating high-definition color images.

The projector comes with three slide discs, which feature a total of 24 images between them. These images depict planets, the moon, spacecraft, distant nebulae, and a host of stunning celestial objects. You can cycle through the pictures and enjoy their galactic glory. With the discs, you have about 50 different image combinations.

What's In The Box?

One positive aspect of the Smithsonian projector is the packaging.

Like many other products from this brand, it's well-design and ready for gifting. The box features images that look like they come straight from a textbook! However, it manages to look fun and toy-like!




Inside, it's pretty standard fare. You get the projector itself, three slide discs, and some literature.

As mentioned earlier, this light is battery-powered. It uses four AA batteries. Unfortunately, they are not included in the box.

Controls & Functionality

There's not much functionality to talk about here. The planetarium projector is very simple and easy to use. Once you turn it on, you can use the slide discs to customize the image, explore the cosmos, and learn.

Now, its limited features are a double-edged sword. Indeed, you don't have a ton of customization options. There's no way to control the brightness levels or color. But, its simplicity may be beneficial for many.

It has a kid-friendly design with no extra fills. That deserves praise. Young children can start using it instantly without getting confused or frustrated. At the end of the day, children are the Smithsonian's target demographic for this planetarium. In that regard, its functionality is perfect.

It highlights the educational aspects of the device while keeping things simple. What more could a child want?

Durability

Don't expect a ton of durability with the Smithsonian Optics planetarium projector.

Most of the unit is made out of plastic. Even the lenses on the projector seem to be made of lightweight plastic. There's very little metal, if any, at all.

On the one hand, this is a good thing for kids. The plastic is tough enough to withstand accidental drops and bangs. But, it's light and easy to manage. It shouldn't cause any injuries, even if your young one gets too rough with it.

On the other hand, however, is the reduced longevity. The projector can serve you and your family well with proper care. But, it's not going to outlast more premium-built options.

Customer Service & Guarantees

The Smithsonian Institute is the world's largest museum and research complex. This projector and many of the other toys in the Smithsonian line, were made in conjunction with the science juggernaut.

As you can expect, customer service is impressive.

The Smithsonian has its own website for its toy line. There, you can contact the customer support team for direct assistance. There's a direct telephone line, an email address, and a contact form.

You can also find warranty and guarantee information on the website.

The Smithsonian offers a 90-day guarantee, which is decent. However, it's unclear whether or not that guarantee applies to projectors bought through marketplace sites like Amazon. Longer-term warranties don't seem to be available.

Smithsonian Optics Planetarium Projector Pros & Cons

There's good and bad with most star projectors. It's important to cover all bases and display the facts both positive and negative.

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Kid-friendly design
  • High-quality projector slides
  • Interactive
  • Education-focused
  • Battery-powered and portable  

Cons

  • Few customization options
  • Lights aren't very bright
  • Difficult to improve the clarity of images 

Conclusion:

The Smithsonian Optics Planetarium projector is a decent buy for the right people. If you have kids, this device is perfect! It can captivate budding astronauts and provide plenty of learning opportunities.

That said, the projector does have its shortcomings. It's not the most powerful and can be challenging to get a crystal-clear image. The gadget is very kid-friendly, but the lack of customization options and poor image clarity may be a deal-breaker for some.

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