Review: XGIMI Horizon Ultra projector
This dual LED and laser projector punches above its weight.
- Gets very bright
- Premium design and feel
- Amazing image adjustments
- Impressive speakers
- Android TV stutters due to low RAM
- Older HDMI and USB standards
- Netflix app experience isn't great
Projectors have historically been finicky and uncool, quite to the point of being almost as hated as printers. Anybody who grew up in the 2000s knows exactly how much of a pain they could be.
They were big, clunky, terrible to troubleshoot. Of course, older projectors worked with external input devices, typically Windows PCs, which weren’t the best at display output. To sum it up, projectors were mostly terrible.
That’s not quite the case anymore, though. Projectors have had a bit of a second coming in recent years, and the new XGIMI Horizon Ultra is a prime example of how good projectors are today.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra is the world’s first long-throw projector (LTP) that supports Dolby Vision. It achieves this with a dual light source, making this an LED and laser projector.
At $1,699, it provides some serious value. Let’s dig in.
|Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|Light source||Dual Light (Laser + LED)|
|Brightness||2,300 ISO Lumens|
|Projection size||40″ – 200″|
|Colour depth||95% DCI-P3|
|Lamp life||25,000 hours|
|Display chip||0.47″ DMD|
|Audio||2 x 12-watt Harmon/Kardon|
|OS||Android TV 11.0|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Input ports||DC x 1|
HDMI 2.0 x 1
HDMI 2.0 with eARC x 1
USB 2.0 x 2
LAN x 1
|Output ports||3.5mm jack x 1|
Optical out x 1
|Image adjustments||Uninterrupted Auto Keystone Correction|
Uninterrupted Auto Focus
Intelligent Screen Alignment
Intelligent Obstacle Avoidance
Intelligent Eye Protection
Wall Color Adaption
|HDR||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Mount||1/4″ threaded tripod mount|
|Dimensions||265 x 224 x 170mm / 8.8 x 6.7 x 10.4 inches|
|Weight||5.2kg / 11.5 lbs|
XGIMI Horizon Ultra Design: Unexpected elegance
If I were to use one word to describe the XGIMI Horizon Ultra’s design, it’d be–exquisite. I hadn’t gotten around to taking a good look at what the product would look like before it arrived at my doorstep, so the unboxing was a pleasant surprise.
It’s a far cry from the boring white, black, and silver cuboids of yore and also significantly better than the current crop of projectors.
The projector comes with a gold and beige color scheme. It’s not immediately obvious that this is a projector because you get a retractable fabric mask covering the lens.
The top and sides have PU leather, which makes for a fantastic look and feel. Granted, you’re not quite going to be touching a projector all that often, but it looks great.
At first glance, it looks like a classy speaker. The mask retracts down when you power it on, revealing the lens-bearing facade, which is an obvious contrast to the color scheme.
The ports are all laid out in one line at the back, below the vent. You get a DC plug, which takes the bundled color-matched power adapter.
The adapter is pretty big and heavy, but I don’t see it as an issue since projectors are usually a static setup that doesn’t require moving around.
The other ports are two HDMI ports (one with eARC support), two USB ports, one Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and one optical audio out.
Setting up the XGIMI Horizon Ultra
The setup was pretty easy, as well. There are two layers to the setup, with one being the usual Android TV setup experience, and the other part includes the projector bits from XGIMI integrated into the setup.
The setup is rather intuitive. You get the option to set up the projector quickly with your phone instead of manually inputting your login credentials. That simplifies the setup further.
Before you even get to the software part of the setup, however, you’ll have some of the setup done for you already. The projector will automatically scan the surface of the screen or wall you’re projecting onto and adjust the area of projection accordingly.
This is a big deal if I’m being honest. Keystone adjustment is typically a bit of a pain on projectors, and I wasn’t expecting all that much from this projector in that aspect. The Horizon Ultra was a breeze to set up, however.
I just plonked it up on top of the two boxes it shipped in, pointed it towards a nice and clear wall, and powered it on.
The XGIMI Horizon Ultra has automatic keystone, framing, and focus. As I powered on this projector, it detected how much of the wall was usable area for projection and adjusted the picture to fit it perfectly.
You can fine-tune the automatic results if you want to.
After I breezed through the setup, I did go back to find a proper position for the projector. Ideally, you would do well to find a central spot for this projector so that it’s projecting the complete image head-on instead of being skewed.
Of course, the auto adjustments will fix the skew to project a near-perfect image, but I found the results to be best when the Horizon Ultra was centered.
The projector will make auto adjustments every time you move it. I found the optical zoom feature to be nifty if you want to project onto a smaller surface.
Since it’s a long-throw projector, I needed the projected image to be smaller because the room I had it in wasn’t all that big. Optical zoom did that for me without a loss in quality.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra software and user experience
The software is unadulterated Android TV based on version 11. I found it to be nice and clean and generally very usable. I’m glad XGIMI didn’t add a bunch of unnecessary software into the Horizon Ultra.
You get some well-integrated settings options and an XGIMI Community feature, and that’s about it. You have access to a whole lot of apps via the Google Play Store.
One oddity is the Netflix app, which needs to be installed with a workaround. XGIMI includes a pamphlet with the instructions to install Netflix. The process is a bit convoluted, and the streaming quality isn’t all that great.
That’s because it’s actually showing you the browser-based website, so it’s limited in resolution.
I’ve seen this before with Netflix compatibility on different Android TV devices, and I can’t quite blame XGIMI here. However, if you want to use Netflix in 4K and Dolby Vision, be prepared to use an external input device.
The included remote is also pretty good. It takes two AAA batteries and functions as expected. The only big omission is a mute button. I also didn’t like that the Horizon Ultra didn’t have any controls on the projector itself, which seems like a miss.
The overall user experience was a breeze, but I had some issues with the performance of the Android TV experience on board.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra Performance: Mixed bag
In terms of the performance, there are two aspects to consider. If I’m talking about the performance of the laser projector bits, I’ll have to say I was thoroughly impressed.
The hardware is top-quality, the image quality is brilliant, and the brightness is ample to be usable in even brighter environments. I projected onto a wall instead of a screen, and at no point did it feel like a subpar experience.
The in-built wall color correction worked excellently, even during the daytime.
The second part is the Android TV bit, which would be the projector’s in-built software experience. While the app selection is great, I saw the software stutter every now and then, likely due to the 2GB RAM, which isn’t enough.
XGIMI has told us that a software update coming later in September should resolve most of these issues. Its engineers are looking at higher RAM amounts for future devices.
The stutters aren’t frequent, but they ruin an otherwise perfect experience. The USB ports are also USB 2.0, which means hooking up an external drive directly to open video files on Android TV isn’t great either.
On the other hand, you can just hook up the projector to an external input, like a Fire TV Stick, a PC, or a gaming console, and it’ll be perfect. I faced absolutely no issues when I hooked up my Xbox Series X to the Horizon Ultra.
The output is only 4K 60Hz, instead of 120Hz, but the gaming experience was great, largely thanks to the low 18ms input lag.
I do wish this projector had a 120Hz refresh rate (even if at 1080p) and HDMI 2.1 because that’s one of the few things keeping this projector’s hardware from being perfect.
The Dolby Vision support is a major hook for this product and works well. You get a Bright and Dark mode, and HDR works well enough to retain enough data in the dark areas of a contrasting scene. The dual-light setup also shows off its power here.
The standout bit is the built-in speakers, though. Seeing the Harman/Kardon branding didn’t really make me expect all that much because I’ve seen failed branding attempts before.
This setup, however, lives right up to the Harman/Kardon name.
The speakers are loud and crisp and have the kind of boom you would expect a surround system to have. At no point did I feel like I needed an external audio setup with this projector, even though it supports adding one.
Alternative options to consider
|Product Image||Product Name / Primary Rating / Price||Primary Button|
Should you buy the XGIMI Horizon Ultra?
Yes! The XGIMI Horizon Ultra is a very good projector, especially if you want one for home use. It will blend in and add some class to your entertainment setup.
It’s easy to set up and comes with some solid hardware. There are a few issues, but those can be solved by connecting an external input, which is a commonality for projectors.
The built-in Android TV interface is nice but has performance issues at times. However, the overall hardware and experience are great. At $1,699, this is solid value.
I only wish HDMI 2.1 and USB 3 ports were present onboard because these are pretty standard for high-end entertainment hardware these days.
There are other projectors that are brighter, like the JMGO N1 Ultra. However, the Horizon Ultra is significantly more affordable. Other competitors include the BenQ X3000i and the Epson 3800 Home Cinema.
If you’re okay with the smaller flaws, however, the Horizon Ultra will be an excellent purchase. I’ve not been this impressed with a home entertainment product in forever, and I didn’t expect a projector to impress me this much.
All in all, this is a pretty great offering for the money and will serve you well.
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