Sega Toys has established itself as the leading manufacturer of home planetariums since its launch of the Sega Toys Homestar Original in 2006. Here we look at the 2018, and most recent release — the Sega Toys Homestar Flux.
Size: 160mm x 160 mm x 150 mm
Bulb Type: 5-Watt LED
Control: Buttons on the device
Sleep timer: Yes
Projection Surface: 8.9 ft
Aside from being seven ounces lighter, there isn’t a vast difference between the Original and the Flux models apart from an upgrade from a 3-Watt LED to a 5-Watt LED, thus displaying clearer and brighter projections — many would say this is a significant difference, and therefore ‘enough’ to choose one over the other.
The Flux also has illuminated controls (for seeing them in the dark) and upgraded packaging. Let’s see if this projector lives up to the hype.
Sega Toys Homestar Flux: Design
The packaging of the Sega Toys Homestar Flux is worth a special mention before we comment on the projector itself; it was a delight to receive, and it doubles up as an attractive storage box. Often with star projectors — in our experience — the packaging is obviously a second thought, and they usually lack an inspiring or attractive design, as well as being poor and flimsy quality. This model, however, stands out in a league of its own. While we are aware this doesn’t affect the functionality of the product itself (aside from safe storage), giving a gift which you’ve paid a premium price for, you’d expect the first impression to be a good one, and that is what you are guaranteed here.
Moving on to the projector itself, the Sega Toys Homestar Flux is undoubtedly a smart-looking product. It is a spherical ball standing on affixed metal feet which are attached at either side. The satin black finish looks modern and premium, although be sure to keep a microfiber cloth handy to wipe off fingerprints and dust as it seems to show these up fairly quickly.
Everything about the projector seems intuitive. There’s really no need to read the instructions to know how the device operates. Choose a disc (there are two provided), and plug it into the power. Flick the power switch, and you’re away. The focus ring lets you sharpen the stars on the projection surface, as this will differ depending on the position of the projector and the distance from the device to your ceiling.
Although the Homestar Flux is often marketed as having illuminated buttons, which sounds useful, it is a little LED next to the buttons that illuminate rather than their labels, so you still need to remember which does what function. That said, there are only four of them so you’ll quickly get used to it as we did. One turns the device on, one activates the timer, one is to decide the rotation direction and one activates the so-called ‘shooting star.’
The stand can be positioned at any angle with the sphere able to pivot 360 degrees. You cant pivot the sphere horizontally, but of course, you can just turn the stand around to face the direction you want.
Sega Toys Homestar Flux: Performance
If you’ve already done some research into this home planetarium, you’ll have likely read how quiet the motor is when in operation. We were pleased to find this is indeed the case. When turned on, you can only hear the faintest whir when in an otherwise silent room; we actually found this quite soothing in itself.
The projection is astonishingly clear and vivid (once focused), almost to the point of looking ‘too sharp’ to look like the real night sky. Just imagine you’re in a dark sky area without any light pollution and a telescope with the widest field of view possible, and that is what you can see on your ceiling. The 5-Watt LED will let you see the projection of the stars even in the daytime or with the lights on, but as with all projections, it’s best in a completely dark room.
Given this is one of the most expensive home star projectors on the market, you’d expect the quality and performance of the product to also be one of the best. In terms of a star projector with an excellent build quality which gives a high level of scientific accuracy — depending on the disc used — this is true.
Sega Toys Homestar Flux: Functionality
The Sega Homestar Flux is powered using a USB cable, giving you the flexibility to power it from any USB device, such as a laptop or power bank, instead of having to rely on a wall socket.
The sleep timer on the device can be set for 15, 30 or 60 minutes, giving peace of mind for an automatic shut off after you fall asleep or leave the house. If you don’t set a timer, the device will power off after four hours, regardless.
One of the key points of the functionality of the Homestar Flux is the option to extend your catalog of discs. There are more than 30 compatible discs ranging from exceptional pin-sharp views from astronomical observatories in other countries, the stages of a solar eclipse, to the more novelty discs like swimming jellyfish or balloons at a hot air balloon festival.
There is a shooting star function, which appears at the same place on the projection at a fixed interval. For us, this is an unnecessary gimmick. If it were to vary the location of the projection or if there was a variation in frequency it would be more realistic, and we’d like it more.
Should I buy the Sega Toys Homestar Flux?
If you’re looking for an adult, scientific star projector, and don’t mind an initial fairly pricey investment, why not. It does what you’d expect of a home planetarium. It projects the night sky with clarity indoors, for you to explore stars and other extraterrestrial subjects (depending on the discs) using high-quality imagery.
If the Sega Toys Homestar Flux isn’t for you
A couple of cheaper options do pretty much the same job as the Homestar Flux but with a little less sophistication. The first and probably closest rival is the National Geographic Home Planetarium. It has more functionality in that it has a built-in speaker and a time and date selector, so you can choose to view what the night sky looks like at any given time and date. It’s a little on the clunky side, though, with garish yellow detailing, so not as sleek as the Homestar Flux. You can pick up the National Geographic Home Planetarium on Amazon for around $96 (opens in new tab).
Another model would be the Bresser Junior Astro Planetarium (opens in new tab), powered by batteries. It has less functionality than the aforementioned National Geographic model, and the packaging is clearly targeted at young stargazers. Both models have noticeably noisier motors than the Homestar Flux and less clarity in their projections, but they also cost a lot less.
Finally, if you aren’t looking for scientific accuracy and perhaps want to buy a space ‘themed’ gift for a young (or adult!) space fan, then the Astronaut Starry Sky projector could be a perfect choice. It is an affordable astronaut-shaped projector that projects colorful nebulae-inspired patterns and lasers onto the ceiling — both can be customized using the supplied remote control. The images aren’t a true reflection of the night sky, but they still add an awe-inspiring visual to enhance the ambiance of any room. You can find the Astronaut Starry Sky projector on Amazon for around $35 (opens in new tab).