Despite living in a town that is a Class 5 area on the Bortle scale, I am lucky enough to have witnessed and fallen asleep under some of the best locations for astrophotography and skywatching. I've seen incredible dark skies filled with shimmering stars, namely in the Wadi Rum, Jordan and Achadas da Cruz in Madeira. For me, a star projector is a soothing sleeping aid that helps me remember those awe-inspiring skies.
Size: 160mm x 160 mm x 150 mm
Bulb Type: 5 Watt LED
Sleep timer: Yes
Projection Surface: 8.9 ft
Sega Toys has established itself as the leading manufacturer of home planetariums since its launch of the Sega Toys Homestar Original in 2006. Takayuki Ohira, a planetarium supplier and specialist, is the inventor of the disks for the Homestar series. In partnership with Sony, he has been instrumental in the development of the Homestar series, which allows people to watch thousands of stars from their own homes at a reasonable price. Having Takayuki as a driving force gives high expectations for this product.
Sega Toys Homestar Flux: Design
- Intuitive user interface
- Premium finish and build quality
- Stable and sturdy projector stand
The Sega Homestar Flux has an intuitive design. After un-boxing it takes mere minutes to plug in and get up and running. Pop a disc into the top-loading disc slot, plug it in and switch the power on and that’s all there is to it. The focus ring around the glass helps ensure the stars look sharp regardless of the distance of the surface from the projector.
There are buttons to turn the device on, activate the timer, turn the rotation on (North or South) and activate the ‘shooting star’. The actual words are not lit or visible in the dark, but there aren't that many to forget which button does what, and you won’t do any damage if you accidentally press the wrong one.
The compact projector is made from plastic and has metal feet to aid stability. It has a nice satin black finish that looks sleek and modern, although does highlight dust and sticky fingerprint marks more than I’d like. The packaging for the Homestar Flux itself is attractive and certainly feels like you’re opening a premium product.
It has a cardboard sleeve, and a nicely designed cardboard box and the unit is protected by cardboard inside. I would have liked to see the included disks, as well as the ones you can buy separately, in cardboard sleeves protected by foam. Instead, they are in foam, inside a plastic case and then inside a wasteful plastic packet.
Out of other projectors I have come across, this is the easiest to manoeuver into the correct position. I live in a Victorian house with high ceilings downstairs and lower upstairs, I didn't have any problems getting the image to fill the ceiling in either, either on the floor or on a bedside table.
Sega Toys Homestar Flux: Performance
- Excellent brightness
- Quiet operation, but motor can be distracting
- Good performance for the money
The 5-Watt LED is exceptionally bright making the stars look vibrant and sharp. Even when the room is not completely dark, the stars are still visible, although the darker the room, the sharper the stars appear.
Something that often crops up about this projector is its quietness. It is very quiet, but the motor noise when rotating is just noticeable enough to keep my husband awake, whereas I find the quiet whir quite soothing. I accompanied the projection by playing wave sounds on a speaker so we couldn’t hear the motor.
This isn't the cheapest home planetarium on the market. However compared with some, this does feel like a good quality product. From the smart packaging to the sleek satin finish, build and glass quality, you do feel like you’ve bought something premium which reflects its price.
Sega Toys Homestar Flux: Functionality
- USB-powered gives flexibility
- A variety of stargazing discs
- Shooting star function is a little lackluster
The unit uses a USB cable for its power supply, I have run it from a wall socket and plugged it into my laptop to use, it could also be powered by a power bank making it super portable. If it’s staying in one place I’m not sure how important this is but it’s nice to have the option. The timer on the Flux can be set for 15, 30 or 60 minutes by moving a slider. No need to wake up from your slumber if using it to drift off to sleep as many do. If you don’t set a timer it will automatically turn off after four hours to save power.
The Homestar Flux is provided with two discs, the Northern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere Constellations. 17 other Sony-branded disks are available to purchase separately for approximately $18 each and disks from the Homestar Original (opens in new tab) will work too. Discs include the stunning Jabbah and Associates disc, Nebulae disk, The Solar System, and Galaxies disc, some other fun options like hot air balloons and jellyfish are available too, read more about them over at Astrial.com (opens in new tab).
The shooting star function does leave something to be desired. It’s a blurry line that appears at the same place on the projector at a set interval. It would have been nice to have more than one shooting star, or a variation in the interval, the direction it travels, or location. I found it more frustrating than relaxing because of its predictability, nothing like real life.
Should I buy the Sega Toys Homestar Flux?
The Homestar Flux is worth spending the extra money on than the Homestar Original because of the quality and durability of the build and clarity of the stars. It’s pricer than other home planetariums but it does feel like you get what you pay for. There are cheaper alternatives available such as the Bliss Lights 2.0 (opens in new tab) if you want some lights and patterns which aren’t necessarily a true reflection of the night sky to help you fall asleep.
However, if you're interested in having a realistic view of the night sky and solar system (with additional discs), and would benefit from the extra detail and versatility of purchasing and inserting discs showing other images, this model gives you the flexibility to do so. It is also a great educational tool to teach kids about the night sky in a hands-on and engaging way. Still not sure which way to go? Then take a look at our guide to the best star projectors available right now.