The cinemas may be open again, but if you’re still a bit wary of watching a film with a couple of hundred people breathing over your shoulder, then you could consider buying a projector to set up your own personal home cinema system.
There’s something of a sci-fi vibe about XGIMI’s Horizon Pro 4K projector. Its squat, round-edged chassis, with offset lens, looks a little like a robot that might come to life and zap me. Thankfully, there’s no evil Al lurking inside… but it’s still pretty clever.
Many readers might not be familiar with XGIMI. Xgimi is a popular projector manufacturer based in China. It’s relatively new to the projector market (it was established in 2012) and only appears to have made a concerted push into the UK in the last few years. Their portfolio includes portable projectors designed for extreme convenience and with cutting-edge technology. XGIMI’s focus is on smart models that solve what it says are a number of problems, including the ‘bulk and heaviness’ and short lifespans of traditional projectors, and ‘complicated home theatre setups.’ XGIMI is very much of the plug-and-play generation.
The Horizon Pro is a portable DLP projector that won the EISA Award for Best Buy Projector.
The Horizon Pro 4K is currently its top-spec model, launched this summer. It’s a table-top projector, with a fixed throw ratio (1.2:1) that’s short, but not ultra-short. You can’t position this PJ close to your wall and expect an eye-filling image, as it’s from a distance of around 2m that you’ll get an 80in picture. In fact, XGIMI has yet to embrace the UST projector trend – other models in its stable are the battery-powered, portable Mo-Go, the ultra-compact Elfin, and the also diminutive Halo, which the brand says ‘completely tears the toy tag off a Pico projector.’
Well-designed would be an understatement for the Xgimi horizon pro. We have reviewed quite a few projectors in the past, but none of those afford the portability and ‘clean’ design that this device offers. Measuring 208.4 x 218.4 x136.2mm and weighing 2.9kg, the projector is extremely portable and comes with an equally well-designed and sleek remote control.
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Let me entertain you
Admittedly, XGIMI’s Horizon Pro is very much a high-end option. The Horizon Pro 4K sells for £, a price tag that should immediately tell you that while it’s a 4K model, it’s not native, instead employing Texas Instruments’ mirrorflipping 0.47in DLP chip. This means you shouldn’t expect the clarity and detailing of genuine 4K designs.
It offers 4K resolution (3840×2160), with dual-band Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity, and many other features.
Brightness is rated at a punchy 2,200 Lumens from an LED light source that should give you years of moviewatching entertainment. HDR10 and HLG playback are supported, in addition to wide colour.
Connections are all found around the back. The Horizon Pro does have two HDMI ports, though, and we had no problems connecting an Apple TV 4K and an iPad with Apple’s Digital AV adaptor. There are also two USB 2.0 ports for playing files stored on a memory stick or external drive, and 3.5mm and optical audio outputs for using headphones or external speakers. Add in the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, and it’s a good haul.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that the Horizon Pro uses Android TV as its operating system. That may deter some Apple-centric households, but does ensure that the projector can run a wide range of Android apps for streaming music and video. It also supports Google Assistant voice commands and Chromecast streaming–but not AirPlay or Siri for Apple devices. There are Android apps that claim to support AirPlay streaming, but we can’t guarantee how well those will work, and there are rival projectors that have AirPlay built-in for use with Apple devices.
Some owners might never plug a physical source into the XGIMI, however, as it’s a fully fledged smart model, using the Android TV 10 platform to proffer video-on- demand apps (but not Netflix), Chromecast streaming and voice interaction. The latter is achieved through the Horizon Pro 4K’s remote, which earns itself brownie points for being Bluetooth-based, light on buttonry, slim in the hand and simple to use.
The real smart aspect of this PJ becomes apparent during setup. XGIMI’s automatic focus and screen alignment features work really well, and turn what could be a daunting process for projector newbies into something quick and simple.
‘There’s craggy detail aplenty in Costner’s weather-beaten face, and the interiors of his home have texture and depth’
Even better (although this feature might not be of use to everyone) is the Horizon Pro 4K’s ‘obstacle avoidance’ technology, which detects items that might get in the way of your n-the-wall bigscreen enjoyment (a light switch or photo frame, for instance) and repositions the picture to avoid them. This also proved to work well, allowing me to install the XGIMI in a variety of rooms and have it always find a canvas to paint on.
The solid specification and clever setup tricks create a great first impression, and this is generally reinforced by the projector’s performance, although it’s one with caveats.
Chiefly – and this is an issue that afflicts many living-room friendly DLP models – its black level delivery isn’t a knockout. XGIMI’s LED light source is effective at combating ambient light, and delivering images with a bright, vibrant feel, but it tends to leave blacks looking grey. As usual, you can try to counter this by addressing your viewing environment and tweaking settings, but it really seems to be baked in to the performance. That’s not to say it’s a deal-breaker though. Leave expectations of an OLED-esque black level at the door and spin a movie, and you’ll find this compact beamer is more than capable of crafting an enjoyable bigscreen experience.
For example, detail and sharpness with 4K sources are commendable, and good-quality Full HD material (think Blu-ray disc) is also efficiently upscaled without appearing unnatural. Other sources don’t fare quite so well, though, falling victim to the bigscreen presentation and processing limitations.
For motion smoothing, XGIMI’s MEMO tool (on its lowest setting) also proves good value, ensuring detail remains during camera pans and object movement, without ruining the ‘filmic’ feel.
The Kevin Costner neo-Western Let Him Go (Sky Cinema 4K HDR) looks crisp and inviting. There’s craggy detail aplenty in Costner’s weather-beaten face, and the interiors of his M ntana home have texture and depth. Running the PJ in its Movie preset, the film’s naturalistic colour palette is well respected, with believable earthy hues and skin tones. Some occasional bursts of red, such as the front of the Red Owl Food Store, do look overemphasised, however.
A more in-yer-face colour performance comes from Frozen (Disney* 4K HDR), where the PJ has fun with the various costumes of the coronation scene and the frequent icy blues, its inherent brightness paying dividends.
HDR playback is, as expected, nothing to write home about. There’s little sense that XGIMI’s tone mapping is giving HDR10 sources a real leg up, leaving dark areas short on detail and bright image areas prone to lacking precision. The Frozen sequence where Anna and Kristoff visit his adoptive troll family misses out on the sparkling detail in the characters’ jewellery, while the frantic, light-splattered battle between the Justice League and Steppenwolf in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (4K Blu-ray) doesn’t have the HDR punch it should.
Tucked inside the Horizon Pro 4K’s cabinet is a sound system from Harman Kardon. Side-firing 45mm full-range drivers, each given 8W of juice, create an energetic, solid-feeling soundfield, albeit one that doesn’t exactly fill a room. The aforementioned Bluetooth functionality means it also doubles up nicely as a wireless speaker.
|3D||Yes. Active 3D (glasses optional)|
|4K||Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 via Tl DLP chip|
|HDD||Yes. HDR10; HLG|
|CONNECTIONS||2 x HDMI (v2.0); 2 x USB; optical digital audio output; 3.5mm headphone; Ethernet|
|BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED)||2,200 Lumens|
|DIMENSIONS||218(w) x 208(h) x 136(d)mm|
|FEATURES||LED light source; |
Android TV 10 with Google Assistant and Chromecast
automatic focus and screen alignment
horizontal and vertical auto keystone correction
MEMC motion smoothing
1.2:1 throw ratio
2 x 8W Harman Kardon sound system
lamp life rated at 25,000 hours
X-VUE 2.0 Image Engine
With its near idiot-proof setup, strong connectivity, impressive audio and smart portal, XGIMI’s new projector has plenty of appeal. Video performance is good, but not great, but that’s probably to be expected given the do-it-all ethos and price point. Worth considering
Getting started is very easy–although the need to both provide your own batteries for the remote control and to sign in with a Google account is irritating. However, the projector’s automatic focus and keystone correction work a treat, and coped easily when I placed the Horizon Pro on a wobbly pile of books on a coffee table. Image quality is outstanding (as it should be at this price), impressively sharp and colourful when playing a series of 4K films from the iTunes Store, and the 16W Harman Kardon speakers prove surprisingly powerful too. XGIMI says that the Horizon Pro can create an image up to 7.62m in size diagonally, but you’d need a pretty large room–or garden–to achieve that. In our more modestly-sized lounge, we were able to get an image 2.54m diagonally from a distance of about 3m. The 2200 lumens projector isn’t quite bright enough to watch in daylight hours, so you’ll need blackout blinds or just wait until nightfall to fire up your favourite films.
This 4K (3840 x 2160) projector can be used to project at up to 300 inches, however, we would put this at 200 inches for optimum image quality. Though this is not an ultra-short throw model, the device features Intelligent Screen Adaption Technology, which offers the convenience of automatically finding and setting up the ideal projection area in a matter of seconds, making the whole process a breeze. To elaborate a little, the Horizon Pro uses automatic focus and keystone correction along with AI object detection to set up your projection area intelligently. It even incorporates an Intelligent Obstacle Avoidance system to avoid obstacles such as power sockets and furniture in the room to find the ideal projection surface even if you are using a wall to project the image. It also automatically matches your screen size with the size of the projected image in case of a screen being used. This eliminates the requirement of having the projector in straight line and perfectly parallel with the screen. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can always use the manual alignment option, which allows you to finely shift the position of each corner of the image area.
At 2200 ANSI Lumens, the Horizon Pro delivers bright projection with wide dynamic range and excellent sharpness. The device uses Xgimi’s X-VUE 2.0 Image Engine for clarity and realistic colour reproduction. With MEMC (Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation), the projector delivers low latency with least image blur aided by proprietary 60Hz motion compensation technology, making it ideal for gaming too. The device offers HDR 10 and is 3D compatible. Further, the AI Brightness Adjustment feature ensures that the projector adapts to ambient light changes. Xgimi claims a life of 25,000 hours for the lamp. A TÜV Rheinland certification assures you of low blue light for better eye care.
It’s seriously expensive, of course, and the reliance on Android and Google technologies–and lack of Apple tech such as AirPlay–could well be a deal-breaker for some people. However, the impressive image quality of the Horizon Pro, and its automatic set-up features, are hard to fault for anyone that wants to create their own personal cinema experience at home.
Movie watching experience is only as good as the sound reproduction, and the Horizon Pro got you covered here as well. Professional sound design by Harman Kardon ensures immersive DTS studio surround sound with the help of two 8W, 45mm full-range speakers. The system provides low distortion and high dynamic response along with a virtualised surround sound experience. The result is truly mesmerising for such a small device.
Easy to install in almost any environment thanks to smart automated setup, this cutesy projector is more home entertainment than home cinema - but still impresses. It’s crazy expensive–and runs Android–but the Horizon Pro is one of the best home projectors we’ve seen.
- Outstanding 4K image
- Good connectivity
- Portable and neatly designed, intelligent framing and focussing, impressive surround sound
- Costs a fortune
- Uses Android
- No backlighting on remote
- no optical zoom