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Review: XGIMI Aura 4K UHD projector

As good as it is, and it is good, the XGIMI Aura isn’t perfect.

xgimi aura review
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie
XGIMI Aura 4K Projector
4.0
Quick Verdict: Yes, it can project up to a 120” image without issue. Yes, it sounds great. However, if you use certain popular streaming services, you may find they don’t work. The XGIMI Aura is undeniably a high-quality product; however, it is important to note that it is not flawless.
Pros:
  • Automatic keystone and focus correction works really well
  • Manual adjustment of keystone is excellent
  • Sound is impressive, and low fan noise makes it even better
  • Comes with Android TV built-in
Cons:
  • Requires you to sign in with a Google account
  • Netflix isn't supported
  • HDMI-CEC needs improvement
Check Price at XGIMI Check Best Offer
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

I love a short-throw projector. I love that the projector can be close to the wall it’s projecting on, freeing up plenty of space in your home.

TVs get ever more affordable, but a short-throw projector can project a much larger image for the price.

The XGIMI Aura is a short-throw, 4K UHD laser projector with sound provided by Harmon Kardon.

However, as good as it is, and it is good, the XGIMI Aura isn’t perfect. 

Design and ports

The XGIMI Aura is large. It’s 606 x 401 x 139.5mm (that’s 23.86 x 15.79 x 5.49 inches) and weighs 11kg or 24.25 pounds. 

The Aura has ports on the back, including three HDMI, three USB, ethernet, headphones, and optical output for audio. 

xgimi projector backside
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie

The ports on the back look nice when in use but, in practice, require some caution. Leaning over the unit to plug an HDMI cable in while the projector is on means risking looking into the light. 

Avoid looking into a laser projector’s light. It’s a laser, and it’s not good for your eyes.

XGIMI has taken this into account and turns off the laser to protect people’s eyesight when they detect anything in the path of the beam. 

I suspect they’re using the same technology to detect the wall when autofocusing, and it reacts quickly enough.

I accidentally did this twice, and both times it shut off the light quickly with no lasting damage or bright spots in my vision. 

projector sitting on floor
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie

From a design standpoint, the projector is black and silver-gray and will look right at home in a living room or bedroom.

The top surface is an arc, with a black stripe that breaks up the two silver-gray surfaces. The laser light engine sits in that black stripe.

The remote control is silver and black, with curved sides. The buttons are textured, domed, or otherwise designed so you can tell the difference between them by feel.

XGIMI Aura 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector
4.0
Pros:
  • Automatic keystone and focus correction works really well
  • Manual adjustment of keystone is excellent
  • Sound is impressive, and low fan noise makes it even better
  • Comes with Android TV built-in
Cons:
  • Requires you to sign in with a Google account
  • Netflix isn't supported
  • HDMI-CEC needs improvement
Check Availability
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

Setting up the XGIMI projector

The projector runs on Google’s Android TV operating system.

Setting it up is a lot like setting up an Android phone: you enter your account information and select apps you’d like it to download and install.

One of the first things I did after setting it up was to install the latest firmware update, which promised improvements to HBO Now’s streaming app.

It was reassuring to see updates available, as that shows XGIMI is paying attention to streaming app performance.

apps on a screen
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie

Features

The Android home interface feels like other Android TV devices, with Search, Home, Discover, and Apps on the top left, inputs, Wi-Fi, settings, and a clock on the top right.

There’s a row for advertisements directly below that, followed by Favorite Apps, Play Next, and selections by Prime Video and Google Play movies & TV.

Play Next is mixed. It does show an episode of Star Wars: Andor that I can resume, but the last thing I was watching was Jack Ryan on Prime Video.

It’s not clear why it doesn’t show the most recent thing I was watching.

If I accepted some terms and conditions, Google Assistant could also index what is available on the different streaming services and be able to search or launch shows by voice. 

XGIMI Aura 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector
4.0
Check Availability
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

Auto-focus

The XGIMI Aura auto-focuses, as well as adjusts auto-keystone.

This means that if the projector isn’t exactly level or the screen or wall isn’t a perfect 90 degrees to the projector, it can fix the picture without manual adjustments. 

Of course, if you want to dial in the manual adjustment, you can. There are 8 zones you can use around the edges of the picture to straighten out the image manually.

Picture quality

This is a 4K UHD HDR projector with a staggering 2400 lumens. 

In human terms, that means it can display more detail, better picture quality, better colors, and be bright enough that you can use it in the daytime with an appropriate projector screen

The good

xgimi projector image
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie

The picture is excellent. The sound quality is better than almost any other projector. The fan noise is almost silent. 

These things make for a great viewing experience and only confirm my decision to use projectors instead of TVs.

The projector fast-boots in 12 seconds. That’s very fast, and fast makes it feel better. There’s no long waiting to get into the entertainment. 

The audio is provided by Harmon/Kardon and is Dolby and DTS HD compatible. 

Struggles

There are a few rough spots that prevent this projector from being the best thing ever. 

Using it with the built-in Android TV system isn’t perfect. Not all apps you’d want for streaming services work. 

The streaming services that do work don’t have a large enough 4K content library to take good advantage of the 4K projection.

Netflix

Using the Netflix app via the built-in Google Play Store warns with error -14, “not optimized for Netflix.”

When trying to watch Glass Onion, it says, “sorry, your account can’t be used on this device.” 

It’s not immediately clear why: the previews for shows play just fine. Selecting an episode or the start of a movie shows the error. 

Other projectors I have used in the past do work with Netflix. It would be easy to say, “Clearly Netflix -can stream to projectors, and can play show previews to this one, they just don’t want to.”

But that’s not the whole story.

The problem is this: Netflix uses DRM to make sure that the Netflix app is running on an approved Android device.

Android and Android TV are two separate things. The Android TV version of the app uses both DRM and checks to ensure the projector or TV is a Netflix-approved device.

movie being shown on projector
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie

Netflix limits HD and 4K playback to “Netflix Certified Devices.” The way around it is… load a very old version that doesn’t have their DRM check in it.

Loading the older Android phone app on an Android TV projector gives you an app that allows you to watch Netflix in SD and uses the remote as a mouse to emulate touch events.

It is every bit as clunky as you imagine.

This isn’t an unfixable situation: The Google Chromecast device with remote control is an Android TV device, and Netflix certifies it.

They could certify the XGIMI AURA. But this is the state of things today if you wanted to use the projector for all your streaming needs.

HDMI-CEC

If you want to use an external streaming device like an Apple TV, Roku, or even a PlayStation, you would use an HDMI port and probably want to use HDMI-CEC. 

HDMI-CEC is a feature that allows the projector to listen for power on and off from an HDMI device and respond to volume commands from that device. 

This is super helpful because it means you can control the projector’s power and volume from your chosen device’s remote. 

Frequently, when an HDMI device signals a power-on, a TV will set the input to the device that triggered the power-on. It just makes sense; you woke it with an external device, and you probably want to view that external device. 

XGIMI Aura 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector
4.0
Check Availability
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

HDMI-CEC on the XGIMI Aura is abysmal

An HDMI-CEC device like an Apple TV or Playstation will power on the projector. 

If the remote control has volume, the HDMI-CEC device will also control the projector’s volume. That’s where the good news ends.

It will not set the projector to the correct input. You have to do that manually. This is a bug in XGIMI’s implementation of HDMI-CEC.

From the Android documentation on implementing CEC:

“When an HDMI playback device wakes up, it attempts to wake the connected TV and become the current active source through HDMI CEC One Touch Play.”

If you put the CEC device to sleep, it will power off the projector. If the CEC device falls asleep on its own, the projector will remain on, and waking up the CEC device won’t work to get the video back to the projector.

Power cycling the external CEC device will restore the video to the projector. This is, again, a bug in the implementation.

Further, if the CEC device falls asleep and the projector turns off, it gets into a state where the CEC device will not cause it to power back on. This is hugely frustrating.

Manually selecting inputs sucks. The power-on state focuses on the first icon in Favorite Apps, which is, by default, the Google Play Store.

To change input with the remote, it requires multiple button presses to change to HDMI 1.

Or, you can take your chances with Google Assistant, using the microphone in the remote.

Google Assistant has its own issues

Saying “HDMI 1” results in, “Sorry, I couldn’t find any matching devices, and “try saying, HDMI2, Open HDMI 1.” Then, surprisingly, saying “Open HDMI 1” gets the same “Sorry” result. 

Saying “Switch to HDMI 1” gets “Sure, switching to HDMI 1 on XGIMI-HD-AURA” and works.

But how frustrating it is that Google Assistant isn’t smart enough to know the input names, doesn’t work with the suggested voice prompts, and does work with the magic “switch to” command.

“Change to HDMI 1” also works. But how would you know that?

XGIMI didn’t make Google Assistant. They can’t be blamed for its failure. But they did make the remote control. 

XGIMI Aura 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector
4.0
Check Availability
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

The remote

The remote is an elegant aluminum shell device, topped with a black panel and buttons, and an easy-to-use trigger on the back ejects the batteries.

In use, the remote sucks. Buttons are black with red print or gray print. The center D-pad is textured with concentric lines, but there’s no way to feel which one is up or down.

The back is domed, the contextual menu button is dished, and the home is domed.

Volume down and up have raised – and +, but they’re so small you can’t really tell them by feel. They are all the same size. 

xgimi remote
The battery door is lovely (Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie)

It is not fun searching by feel for volume and hitting back instead. 

Ironically, the button you need to use the least is the easiest to see and find. The autofocus button is black against the silver background of the remote. 

Here’s why this sucks: You want to use the remote in the dark. Making the majority of a remote black, with same-sized buttons that are also black, is going to make it difficult to use by sight or by feel.

XGIMI isn’t the only company with bad remotes

This is also a problem that the Apple TV remote suffers from, and they tried to improve it by giving the Menu button a raised ring.

apple tv remote on table
Image: Victor Marks / KnowTechie

What makes the Apple TV remote, a remote that has been widely criticized, better than XGIMI AURA’s remote?

The buttons are larger. There are fewer of them. And, they’re raised with a hard edge, so you can find them by feel rather than domed like XGIMI’s.

The sound on the XGIMI projector is fantastic. It is one of the best I have heard from a projector. The problem is, it’s too loud.

If you want to watch it late at night, your choices are mute or too loud. A few more choices between those two options would be welcomed.

Lack of a 4K catalog

4K is a mixed blessing. Netflix has a great 4K catalog but doesn’t work on the projector. 

HBO Max does function, and there was even a firmware update to further improve HBO Max, but the platform has a limited 4K catalog. House of Dragons and 33 other titles are all you get. 

Disney+ does work in 4K. The picture is glorious.

Prime Video, which regularly has the jankiest performance, works just as terribly as it does on other streaming devices, but in different ways.

Why Amazon can’t make a good app is one of the wonders of the universe. (Skipping 10 seconds causes the loading symbol for 10 seconds? Why, Amazon, why?) But the picture quality is stellar.

Should you buy

The XGIMI Aura sells for $2,399 dollars. This price is discounted from a regular price of $2,799.

Yes, it can project up to a 120” image without issue. Yes, it sounds great. If you use certain popular streaming services, you may find they don’t work, however. 

If you use an external device, get used to setting the input and having to power cycle the external device regularly. This could perhaps be fixed in a firmware update, but it doesn’t work well enough yet.

For your $2,399, you really should be able to watch Netflix. This isn’t XGIMI’s fault, but it is the result of using Android TV and not working it out with Netflix. 

For the $2,399 asking price, the projector should switch inputs when powered on by an external device. I am honestly surprised that it shipped without that behavior. 

XGIMI Aura 4K Projector XGIMI Aura 4K Projector
4.0
Quick Verdict: Yes, it can project up to a 120” image without issue. Yes, it sounds great. However, if you use certain popular streaming services, you may find they don’t work. The XGIMI Aura is undeniably a high-quality product; however, it is important to note that it is not flawless.
Pros:
  • Automatic keystone and focus correction works really well
  • Manual adjustment of keystone is excellent
  • Sound is impressive, and low fan noise makes it even better
  • Comes with Android TV built-in
Cons:
  • Requires you to sign in with a Google account
  • Netflix isn't supported
  • HDMI-CEC needs improvement
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

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For years, Victor has threatened to write the book, "How To Solve Printer Problems Easily", with the first page stating in lovely italics, "The author is a filthy liar. No printer problem is solved easily. Let's begin..." He just wishes consumer electronics were better. Expertise in networking, audio, and repair. Blogging since 2001, he has contributed to sites including AppleInsider.com, WristWatchReview.com.

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