Have you seen those windows where some creepy ghost is dancing or some zombie looks like it's trying to get out? Those are digital decorations and they're becoming more popular every year. I've had a chance to test out Atmos FX's Digital Decorating Kit and let me tell you that my Halloween decorations this year are a real scream!
- Easy setup
- A wide variety of decoration scenes
- HD projector
- Bad projector user interface
Better than a pumpkin
What are Digital decorations?
Digital decorations are animated images that either appear on a TV screen or computer monitor, are projected onto a wall or solid surface or thin material (for viewing outside of a window).
The digital downloads I'm reviewing here are specifically for the kind you project. They can be projected onto solid surfaces, like making a blank form look like a ghost is dancing or a pumpkin look like a singing jack-o-lantern. They can also be projected onto a screen, film, or opaque (but thin) piece of material against a window. When you project digital decorations through a window, people on the outside will see the animations as if this is what's happening inside your house (it's pretty cool).
All the fixin's
What comes in AtmosFX Digital Decorating kit?
If you're starting from scratch, without even a digital projector in the house, take a look at AtmosFX's Digital Decorating Kit Plus.
I recommend the Plus kit instead of the standard kit because the Plus kit comes with a 720p HD projector, which can be used throughout the year for any kind of projection, like summer backyard movies or big-screen-at-home fun.
The kit also includes a remote control, a standard window projection screen — which is a white piece of opaque (but thin enough to see projections through) 4' X 6' piece of material, and an SD card with 16 pre-loaded scenes on it (nine Halloween scenes, three Christmas scenes, and four scenes for other popular decorative holidays).
There is also a tripod mounting bracket so you can connect the projector to any standard tripod mount. I love this little bracket because I can attach the projector to my tripod and set up the digital decoration at any window, any height, and any angle. No need to stack boxes on top of tables.
AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit What I like
To start, nothing is cooler than having a window decoration that moves. It's pretty awesome. It looks amazing.
What makes AtmosFX's kit stand out from others is the projector itself. It's a standard HD 720p projector that you can use to project, not only your digital decorations but movies and photos as well.
You can plug in an SD card and two USB thumb drives to pack your projector with movies, music, photos, GIFs, and of course, digital decorations.
Note: You can't plug a DVD player or computer directly into the projector to watch movies. You have to put them on a USB drive or SD card first.
It's got a brighter 80 watt LED bulb, which is about twice as bright as most other digital decoration projectors. It's this specific item that makes the more-expensive kit worth it if you don't already own a projector (and have always wanted one).
Nothing is cooler than having a window decoration that moves. It's pretty awesome.
In addition to the projector, the kit comes with a remote control so you can change scenes or pick different ones without having to stand right next to the projector (it's an IR remote, though so you will need line-of-sight to the back of the projector).
It comes with a tripod mount that you can use in either vertical or horizontal. If you've got a long, skinny window, put the tripod mount on the side of the projector and mount it to your tripod long-ways. If you've got a wide window, mount it to the bottom of the projector.
The kit also comes with a window projection screen, which is a 4' x 6' piece of opaque cloth that allows the images from the projector to shine right through. The screen has grommeted holes in each corner and comes with a set of 3M hooks so you can stick them to walls or windows. The grommet holes are convenient because you could use some rope to create a transparent screen just about anywhere.
There are 16 different digital decorations on an SD card in the kit that covers all of the major holidays. The nine Halloween decorations range from fun and family-friendly to seriously spooky.
You really don't need any more than what comes in the kit but you can buy additional scenes to really mix up the fun. AtmosFX puts out new decorations all the time, and this year you can grab the new Sinister Shadows, Terrors from Beyond, Halloween Zombie Bash, and Halloween Monster Bash for $9.99 and up. Full decoration collections include display modes for TV and monitors, walls, windows, hallway projections (AKA "Hollusions"), prop projections and doorway decorations.
Oh, come on.
AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit What I don't like
The biggest issue with the AtmosFX kit is its price. It's at least $100 more than other kits that are in the same category of "plus" or "pro," meaning the projector is better quality, it comes with more equipment like the screen, and has more digital decorations.
The only reason this kit should be more expensive is due to the cost of the projector, which is 720p HD. None of the other digital decoration kits that I came across identified the pixel resolution, though the lumens were noted (which is something AtmosFX doesn't include in its specs).
The biggest issue with the AtmosFX kit is its price.
Projector quality does matter if you want good quality displays of your digital decorations. Lower-quality projectors will make beautiful images look fuzzy.
It's still a tough pill to swallow to pay such a high price for decorations.
I'm also very disappointed in the user interface of the projector. It doesn't take design or usability into consideration at all. Every bit of it is clunky and difficult to understand. If the only thing you're doing is playing the digital decorations that came on the original SD card, you'll be fine, but if you want to play movies, show photos, or download additional decorations, you'll have to figure out the settings menu to switch sources, set up a different audio source, and find those new digital decorations you downloaded.
The most irritating issue with the projector is if you mute the audio, a big old "MUTE" sign appears on the screen. If you're projection digital decorations from inside the house, why would you need to play the audio? Muting unwanted audio is a given. Having that "MUTE" announcement appear on screen, right alongside your ghosts, is really dumb. I resorted to plugging in a set of headphones so the audio could play without me needing to listen to it while I'm trying to watch a movie.
Additional equipment you should buy
While you're doing some initial investment into digital decorating, AtmosFX has a couple additional items you might want to consider.
Sonic Stone ($100 at AtmosFX)
A Bluetooth speaker that looks like a stone. Works with the digital projector so you can pipe audio anywhere you want while the digital decorations stay put.
3DFX Form ($60 at AtmosFX)
An inflatable body frame that is about the size of a person. Drape the included fabric over it and project one of the supported digital decorations (included with the Kit Plus) for an animated prop.
The bottom line
AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit
This Digital Decorating Kit Plus is definitely worth the higher price if you want to ensure that you've got a quality projector that will last a long time. AtomsFX is blazing the trail of this new type of holiday decoration and it's doing it well.
If you already own a projector you could create some nice digital decorations with YouTube videos and the right screen material, but they won't be as versatile as the ones that come in this kit (there are digital decorations for walls windows, hallway "holograms" and form projections specifically).
If you have a looping projector, or some solid know-how to turn MP4s into loops, you could save yourself about $250 and just buy the digital decorations. There are some fantastic how-to videos on AtmosFX's website for setting up decorations.
If, however, you're without a projector anyway, this is the kit to get.