Review: XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K smart projector is a spectacular package
We weren't quite finished being impressed with the XGIMI Halo portable 1080p projector when the Horizon Pro arrived, but this flagship 4K beast is a considerable step up in every department. With enough of a throw distance, it'll turn entire walls into bright, crisp, clear 4K/60p video screens, yet it's cheaper than many new TVs, up and running in minutes, and not much bigger than a toaster.
Indeed, while it's not sold as a portable unit, the Horizon Pro is no trouble at all to carry around, measuring 208 x 218 x 136 mm (8.2 x 8.6 x 5.4 inches) and weighing 2.9 kg (6.4 lb), minus the power brick. It's an attractive design in slate gray with rounded edges, and it's easy to mount and aim, whether upside down on the ceiling or on a tripod, thanks to a screw mount underneath.
Connectivity and Audio
Like the Halo, this is a completely self-contained unit that many people will never plug into anything but the power jack. The Android TV operating system is built right in, it hooks up wirelessly to a Wi-Fi network, and its built-in 2 x 8-W Harman Kardon audio system delivers high-quality Dolby DTS virtual surround audio that's frankly too loud for movie night in my living room at full volume.
If you want to plumb it right into a home theater system, it offers an ethernet LAN input, two USB 2.0 inputs, two HDMI 2.0 jacks, an optical audio port and a headphone jack. Or, you can simply connect it to a Bluetooth audio system and go wireless; that's what I've been doing, just to get access to the kind of floor-shaking bass that a picture this good deserves.
And it is a spectacular picture. At 2,200 ANSI lumens, you won't see much if you shine it on a Sun-lit wall, nor can it keep up with the peak brightness of my 75-inch QLED TV from all the way across the room – but in the shade it's bright enough to look great as a daytime TV from shorter throw distances, and once the lights go down, you can back it up for a gigantic 300-inch picture if you've got the space.
I don't. I've been forced to make do with about 150 inches, thrown from about 15 ft (4.5 m) away thanks to the Horizon Pro's 1.2:1 throw ratio. That's still a ludicrously big screen, although it has proven to me that there's simply no screen so large that my weirdo children won't sit more than a foot away from it.
This machine uses an LED projection lamp rated for an enormous 25,000 hours of use (or 17 years at 4 hours a day) before you need to think about replacement. It supports 4K resolutions up to 4,096 x 2,160 pixels at 60 Hz, and will upscale smaller content and smooth out slower content on the fly. The latter in particular can be easily switched off when you turn off the sports stream and put on a movie; many people, myself included, find that movies look godawful when interpolated into high frame rates.
It supports HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) content to boost contrast and dynamic range, and it runs an adaptive AI brightness adjustment system designed to keep the picture consistent and comfortable to look at whatever the ambient light in the room is doing.
There are several brightness modes, and several image modes, including a custom mode that allows you to tweak brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction and color temperature. There's also a Game mode, designed to reduce latency from the HDMI inputs down to around 35 ms; that doesn't feel at all laggy to me in the kind of console games I tend to play, but then I don't play competitively online.
Even without much tweaking, the image is frankly awe-inspiring. 4K resolution can almost be overkill on smaller screens, but at 150 inches and above, the difference between 1080p and 4K is very apparent. The Horizon Pro pays beautiful homage to well-shot cinema content; it's a beast.
Performance and Smart Features
This device is an absolute pleasure to use. For starters, it switches on and presents the Android TV home screen within about five seconds, provided you've set it up and switched off the auto-focus. Leave it on, and you're up and running in about 10 seconds. That gives me a little burst of happiness every time I turn it on, as does the near-silence of its cooling fans.
Likewise, the Bluetooth remote is very quick and responsive, and it's also got a built-in microphone to give you access to voice control. There are a plethora of apps built in, giving you access to all manner of streaming content, and since most people won't bother connecting a keyboard or mouse, voice control is a brilliant way to find the content you want quickly and easily rather than hunting for letters with your thumb. I use it constantly. If (when) you lose your remote, you can control it through your phone instead – including voice control – through the AndroidTV app.
As with the portable Halo, the Horizon Pro can't run the Netflix app natively. This is a Netflix issue, not a XGIMI one, but many users will rightly be furious about it. Fear not, various cheeky scamps have found ways to get Netflix running perfectly on these things, and a quick and easy solution is only a Google search away. Besides that one stumbling block, it's an Android TV, which means literally thousands of apps are ready to download and go, and the built-in Chromecast unit lets you cast content from your phone, tablet or laptop too.
The auto-setup abilities of the Horizon Pro are absolutely extraordinary. If you point it at a screen with discernible borders, it'll simply do everything for you, perfectly sizing the screen to fit, levelling it in case you've left the box on an angle, and pulling the keystone corners in to straighten the image out if you're throwing it from somewhere off to the side. It'll correct from up to a 40-degree angle, vertically or horizontally, if you're shooting from a tight spot.
What's more, if some lunk has his noggin in the way, or there's another obstacle, the projector simply resizes the screen to work around it. It's quick, it's clever, it's practical and it means you spend less time fiddling with the gear and more time getting to the content, which will be a very welcome benefit for folks taking this thing around with them for presentations. Naturally, you can do it all manually if you like. And the auto-focus system is quick, accurate, reliable and easy to recalibrate should you find otherwise.
There have been no less than three operating system updates in the few weeks I've been using it, too, so I feel confident in saying it's well-supported at this stage.
Essentially, the Horizon Pro is very fast and very smart. If I wasn't fiddling about in the menus for the purposes of this review, I'd very rarely need to look at them; this thing just works, and I appreciate how difficult it is to make a device this easy to use.
Pricing and Availability
XGIMI has priced the Horizon Pro at US$1,699. It's not the cheapest 4K projector you'll find around, but it still feels like excellent value to me given its 2,200-lumen brightness, its beautifully-integrated Android TV OS, its quality audio system, connectivity options, smart features and generally impressive performance.
If 4K isn't a priority, XGIMI also offers a 1080p version simply called the Horizon, which brings you absolutely everything the Horizon Pro does, but at a lower resolution, for a considerable discount at US$1,099. Both are available directly through the XGIMI website.
Our city has been in hard lockdown again for the last... well, I don't really know, time has lost all meaning again. But there has never been a more perfect time to test a projector like this, and my family and I have been flogging the Horizon Pro mercilessly since it arrived several weeks ago. In that time, we've watched a ton of movies, played a bunch of Playstation games so freakin' big it's made my head spin, and I've used it to take the kids to dozens of live music concerts and wild rave parties through the magic of YouTube.
Pointed at a 30-dollar sheet screen hung off the wall, it has created many, many moments of abject awe in my household – even without being able to invite guests over, and it's never once done anything to slightly annoy me, apart from not being allowed to run Netflix for all of the six minutes it took me to get around that. It's a kickass home theater in a single step. Based on my experiences, I'd recommend it without reservation.
Check out a promo video below.
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