I’ve always had a strange fascination with multimedia projectors over the years. While I have read many reviews and watched countless YouTube videos on these types of projectors, I’ve never actually had one.
So when XGIMI offered to send over their Horizon Pro 4K projector for review, I wholeheartedly said yes. Thank you, XGIMI!
However, this is not your normal Simple Home Cinema review, in that this is a multimedia projector, not a home theatre projector.
Specifically, a multi-media projector has a lot of things going for it besides just providing you with an image. It also needs to provide an operating system, apps, sound and usability features that aren’t necessary on a home theatre projector. This also means that the R&D and production costs will have to balance all these aspects.
Secondly, these types of projectors aren’t really used in a fully light-controlled room with zero reflections. They are used in living rooms, kids’ rooms and even outdoors for a wide variety of content. Hence, instead of focusing on absolute picture accuracy, they need to deliver enough brightness and punch to the image to be usable in those environments.
So I will be going through the review of the XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K multimedia projector with the above in mind.
The XGIMI Horizon Pro specs are as follows:
- 4K DLP projector
- Ability to project from 40″ to a maximum of 200″ (with a recommended 60″-150″ screen size)
- RGB LEDs for light source without white boosting (no white boosting is good) with a 30,000hr lifetime to half brightness
- 110% of P3 gamut
- HDR10 and HLG compatible
- Frame interpolation (3 levels)
- Android TV Operating System
- Auto focus, auto keystone and intelligent object avoidance for screen setup
- Built-In Speakers (8W, 45mm, Harman / Kardon speakers) with DTS Studio Sound enhancement
- Can decode DTS HD and Dolby TrueHD audio
You can read the rest of the specs on XGIMI’s website here.
I was pretty impressed with the packaging. Firstly, the projector came double boxed for shipping. Secondly, XGIMI has taken quite a lot of care to make an experience out of unboxing the product. The projector sits on top with high-quality foam surrounding it with the power supply, remote and user guide on the bottom in separate compartments.
As I was opening the box, I was thinking: “Jeez, I didn’t get this sort of packaging with my $20K JVC NZ8 (AUD20K, USD15K). JVC didn’t even include a bloody Australian plug with my NZ8, only a European one. That’s how low we are in the pecking order with JVC.
Not so here! The power supply had an Australian plug. In fact, XGIMI made sure I could review the product that was meant for my region. Well done!
Physically setting up the projector is pretty easy:
- Find a suitable surface to project on such as a bare wall
- Put the projector where you are pretty much able
- Plug the power supply in
- Turn the unit on
There really isn’t too much to the physical setup.
Once the unit is turned on, you are greeted with the Android TV operating system, which will take you through the setup. You do need a Google account to be able to use the system. This means that if you don’t have a Google account, you will need to create one on your PC before entering it into Android TV.
During the first few seconds of Android TV booting up, the unit will automatically adjust focus, which is great. You can manually tune the focus with the remote but in all my day to day usage I never had to do that.
Once the Android TV operating system booted up with your account, you will be greeted with the Android TV interface, which is pretty intuitive.
The only thing that was slightly confusing for me at first were the picture options, which are actually divided up in two places:
- Under the Picture Settings in the Menu, where you will be able to select the brightness mode or select a custom setting to tune the LED brightness separately for the RGB channels.
- Can be called up by a separate button on the remote – this is where you will find the picture modes and related settings
Also, there are no gamma options which I believe might be an Android TV limitation as we saw the same when Epson switched over to Android TV on the LS800. This isn’t really ideal, as…
- You can’t set the unit up for different lighting conditions
- You can’t correct the gamma for accuracy.
However, to mitigate this the Horizon Pro has a dynamic local contrast feature which analyses each frame and applies contrast enhancement dynamically. This feature has 3 levels and works well with the unit’s default gamma. More on this in a bit.
Picture Quality – Out of the Box
The first thing that strikes you is the brightness. The unit has excellent brightness even in its default mode. I didn’t have to have the room completely darkened during the day to appreciate the image, and it certainly was brighter than a lamp-based DLP I also have at hand which is rated for more lumens. This is because of the richness of colours that an RGB light source enables without having to boost brightness using white light.
The colours are also beautiful, definitely when you are watching HDR / P3 material, and they look good for normal REC709 / Blu Ray / HDTV material for a media projector. Obviously, this isn’t an Epson or a JVC in terms of colour accuracy, but this is for a different market.
The unit has an RGB LED light source and there is no white boosting here like with some lamp-based DLP projectors. This means that the gamut doesn’t narrow at the top, which is good. The issue with some lamp-based DLP projectors is that they use a white segment in the colour wheel to boost brightness, at the expense of accuracy. It is a bit like having a white sub-pixel on some OLEDs. This results in a narrowing of the colour saturation (desaturation) for very bright colours, which is not exactly correct. None of that is happening here, which is great.
However, the unit comes with a gamut that is closer to P3 and it is at play at all times, even when watching REC709 (HDTV) content. This isn’t quite correct, but it also isn’t very distracting, likely due to how the gamut mapping has been done for the content. It looks like a bit of over-saturation and maybe incorrect shades of colours but it is quite well hidden where it’s not super obvious unless you are looking for it.
The unit has around 500:1 native contrast, which isn’t going to win awards. However, Android TV’s default 2.1 gamma is actually reasonable for such a native contrast performance for a projector that is going to be used in all sorts of settings that might not be fully light controlled or in rooms with white walls and decor. That 500:1 native contrast will also look like it is around 1000:1 with the Local Contrast featured enabled on its medium setting.
When you first start up the unit, you are struck by how sharp it is. It’s pin sharp, just like a 4K LED TV would be. The pixels are very well delineated and the unit has great focus uniformity across the screen. Auto-focus works incredibly well and brings the picture in focus pretty much every time.
It is definitely recommended to shoot with the lens at 90 degrees to the screen surface, otherwise you need to use keystone correction which reduces the number of pixels being used, and therefore the effective resolution. This is true for all projectors, not just the XGIMI. However, considering we have 800 million pixels being projected, you can lose a few without impacting image sharpness massively. In any case, I prefer to shoot straight at 90 degrees for my liking with the projector sitting on a small table in front of me.
One of the limitations of the optical engine used in lots of multimedia projectors is that they are 60Hz engines. The issue with this is that 24hz material, which is 99% of movies and a lot of TV shows, will look like a judder-ridden mess if the unit doesn’t have good motion-smoothing on-board. I have to say I was plesantly surprised that the XGIMI has excellent motion-smoothing / motion-compensation on-board which removes the unwanted judder from content without the distracting soap opera effect – as long as you have motion smoothing on its weak setting.
I actually think that it works better than motion compensation on an Epson UB6050 and that says a lot. I always found motion compensation on that unit quite poor. Thankfully, that’s not the case here, especially when you consider the class of product and the audience.
Calibration can be achieved using two places:
- In the settings menu under Brightness, you can select Custom which enables a brightness slider from 1 to 10 and RGB Controls to control the light intensity from the RGB LEDs. The RGB intensity sliders aren’t exactly very sensitive so you won’t be able to get the colours in balance 100% unfortunately.
- The second place is using the Settings menu which can be called up with the remote (the button just under the power button), where you will find the picture modes. If you select Custom picture mode, and then select Custom for Colour Temperature, you’ll be able to adjust the RGB gains.
Out of the box, as is expected with multimedia projectors, the white balance is heavily skewed towards green and blue. However, this is done in a way that prioritises blue at the expense of red and our eyes aren’t very sensitive to this “trick” so lots of TV manufacturers use this to make the image brighter without introducing objectionable picture artefacts.
The Gamma is also tracking very close to 2.1 by default, which is actually appropriate for a projector that has around 500:1 native contrast. The local contrast feature does allow for the picture to look more contrasty – as if a higher gamma was used. This is a clever workaround for Andoid TV’s picture adjustment limitations. Well done, XGIMI.
The major issue here is the gamut. The projector uses its native gamut for both SDR and HDR. The main issue with this is the higher relative luminance of colours as well as some over-saturation, which can give the image a slightly over-saturated or neon look.
Additionally, the hue of green and blue are off, which means the gamut is shifted down and to the right on the X,Y coordinates. This isn’t ideal, but considering the large errors, it also isn’t as distracting as the errors would indicate, especially when the unit is pushing blue and green more heavily by default.
The colour points fall more in line both in saturation and colour luminance in HDR resulting in fewer colour errors. In spite of the specs of greater than P3 colour, the colour coordinates don’t fully cover P3, especially for green, while they are too wide for blue.
The EOTF is brighter than the standard, however, this is absolutely the right approach with a contrast and brightness-limited display such as a multimedia projector, that is likely not going to be used in a pitch black room. The EOTF needs to be brighter to allow for HDR to perceptually match what you would see on a TV with higher contrast.
Ultimately, as I discuss this in The Display Calibration Guide, the creators of the HDR10 standard either wilfully ignored 50+ years of research about human perception or they were actually only as smart as their standard is. Absolute luminance creating consistency in perception is about as smart as saying genetic expression is 100% influenced by our genes, 0% by our environment. Science has long moved on, so should we!
Picture Quality – Calibrated
Brightness & Contrast
Brightness drops from around 121nits (on a 100″ screen) to around 70nits, which is considerable. Native contrast also drops to around 350:1 from the initial 500:1. This isn’t ideal and creates less impact in the image. While I felt this could be somewhat offset by increasing the contrast control from 50 to 55, this will create more clipping, which is not ideal.
While this drop in brightness and contrast is not as much of an issue for SDR, it has a large impact on HDR content, where highlights become a lot more subdued and content ends up looking quite a bit more dull.
Since we can only calibrate greyscale, the gamut looks the way it looks. However, the greyscale controls allows you to get a really flat result which is great.
I’ll be frank. For SDR, the gamut becomes more of an issue for me after the unit is calibrated, as the grounding of white in its reference state gives rise to my brain expecting the rest of the colours to also fall in line. Therefore, especially the colour luminance errors become more obvious to me as I watch familiar content.
For HDR, colours also look a bit duller, as we took away almost half of the colour volume away by decreasing brightness. This isn’t necessarily a good trade-off.
Picture – Calibrated or Uncalibrated
I didn’t think I would say this, but I think that due to the hit to brightness and contrast performance when calibrated, I actually prefer the unit in its standard factory state – minus the overdriven sharpness.
Ultimately, this is a multimedia projector, not a reference projector, and calibration hurts the overall impact of the image in settings where this projector would be used. Therefore, I recommend that you only use the calibrated settings when colour accuracy is important and you want to view the projector in a completely dark room with dark decor.
Even then, calibrating the projector – to me – makes the colour inaccuracy more obvious, especially colour luminance errors in SDR. So I don’t know if this is a good approach.
To get around this issue, but still deliver a more accurate image, I provided the Recommended Settings at the end of this article, which you can try. The Recommended Settings adjust the image enough to create more accuracy and subtlety to the image without a major impact on brightness and contrast. Some images below for your enjoyment:
Picture – Suggestions to Google and XGIMI
Ultimately, I would like to see Google add more picture controls to Android TV including full 6-axis colour gamut controls as well as a 10-point greyscale control that could be used for gamma correction.
In terms of design, I would like to see XGIMI use slightly different hues for green and blue LEDs in its next iteration. The hue of blue especially should line up with both P3 and REC709 a bit more. Green is not as much of an issue.
I do wonder if XGIMI could do some work on top of Android TV to switch the gamut for SDR content with the very least lowering colour luminance. This would be my biggest gripe with its colour accuracy. It would allow REC709 material to play back a lot closer to the standard.
Otherwise, I think XGIMI managed to get as much juice out of this hardware as they could – considering its limitations. For a multimedia projector, the picture quality out of the box is very enjoyable and fun. However, if you are looking for reference-level playback, especially for movie content, this isn’t your ticket.
I will be honest. I do not like projectors with built-in sound because it can make the sound quite thin and removed from the action on the screen.
So I was quite surprised by the XGIMI Horizon Pro: the sound is really good for such a small projector. DTS Studio Sound processing makes the sound much bigger than it has any right to be. At times I felt like the sound was coming from the screen when the projector was in front of me on the table, which is a pretty amazing feat.
However, as soon as you turn DTS Studio Sound off, the sound collapses a bit, so I would personally leave this feature on. I also much preferred the movie sound option as opposed to sport or music.
As I said many times throughout this review, we need to keep things in context here: this is a multimedia / entertainment projector, which means its cost is spread out through its form factor, smart TV features, picture quality and sound quality. This is in contrast to a dedicated home cinema projector that will have all its R&D and hardware costs dedicated to the best image quality possible.
So in this context, the XGIMI Horizon Pro is a really fun projector to use. I enjoyed my YouTube and gaming sessions with it immensely in spite of its limitations. I was impressed with the bright, colourful picture that looks like a big LED TV on my wall.
Is it going to replace my JVC X7000, JVC NZ8 or any of the Epson offerings? Definitely not. However, while I wouldn’t take those projectors anywhere on the road with me, I would pack the XGIMI and my Xbox in a heartbeat for my next AirBNB holiday or when visiting friends.
You can reach XGIMI’s websites using the following links:
XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K
XGIMI Amazon Store
As an Amazon Associate we may earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.
These settings are not fully calibrated to reference but try to strike a balance between brightness, contrast and bringing some level of colour accuracy. However, these settings are what I recommend with this unit because the fully calibrated settings compromise brightness and contrast too much.
- Brightness Mode: Standard
- Brightness: 50
- Contrast: 48 (to blunt some of the highlight clipping)
- Colour: 50 (or 48 if you want to bring in the over-saturation a little)
- Sharpness: 35
- Colour Temperature: Custom
- Red: 50
- Green: 40
- Blue: 40
- Local Contrast: Medium
- Motion Compensation: Weak
FULLY CALIBRATED – NOT RECOMMENDED
These settings are NOT recommended, because they compromise brightness and contrast too much. Considering this is a media projector, trying to prioritise colour accuracy isn’t necessarily the right thing to do in this case. The image will look flat and lifeless as a result.
- Brightness Mode: Custom
- Brightness: 9
- Red: 10
- Green: 1
- Blue: 4
- Brightness: 50
- Contrast: 46
- Colour: 47
- Sharpness: 20
- Colour Temperature: Custom
- Red: 50
- Green: 22
- Blue: 21
- Local Contrast: Medium
- Motion Compensation: Weak
Leave a Reply