(Pocket-lint) - With more and more content - and therefore more chances for movie night at home - you might have pondered whether or not to buy a projector. Most of them need a big room, the need for you to not get in their way, and all the lights to be switched off.
The XGIMI Aura 4K is different. It promises to not only allow you watch projections during the day (curtains open or not), but also functions just inches away from your wall - that's what the 'short throw' design is all about.
So can you have your proverbial cake and it? We've been watching XGIMI's 4K Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector in all conditions to find out.
What is a short throw projector?
An Ultra Short Throw (UTS) projector features a very wide-angle lens that allows you to position the projector box a short distance from the wall that you are projecting onto. That's great because it means you don't need a long distance to get a big picture, to worry about ceiling mounts, or about people getting in the way of the projected picture.
- Measures: 606 x 401 x 139.5mm / Weighs: 14.93kg
- Dual-band 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/b/ac)
- Inputs: 3x HDMI, 2x USB, Ethernet
- Built in Harman Kardon speakers
- Outputs: optical, 3.5mm jack
Unlike XGIMI's other projectors - which are designed to be picked up and carried from room to room - the Aura is large, heavy, and designed to be positioned the once and then never really moved again. It's about the size of a large briefcase or small carry-on bag, so this silver-and-black box is substantial enough that you'll notice it sitting against the wall.
Featured within are four 15W speakers, offering Dolby and DTS audio support, which are all hidden behind a black fabric mesh. The lens and mirror compartment are hidden out of sight and out of touch, too, so if you do find yourself getting overly curious then the software automatically dims the laser to project your eyes.
The only button on the device is a power switch on the right-hand side, sat next to an easy-access USB socket. Around the back are the relevant ports you need to connect your devices.
The built-in speakers are good enough for you to not have to worry about adding an additional soundbar, and certainly akin to a decent in-built television speaker system. You could easily enjoy content this way, but we would still recommend looking at additional speaker options if you really want to try and replicate a cinema-at-home experience.
Setting up the XGIMI Aura
- Android TV 10.0 software
- Google Play Store support
- Built-in Google Chromecast
Like other XGIMI projectors, such as the Elfin and Horizon models that we've previously reviewed, the Aura is powered by Android TV 10. The system starts up quickly and gives you plenty of options to access your various streaming apps, including Apple TV, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
Sadly, like other XGIMI projectors, Netflix isn't available due to Netflix not approving the device as yet. The company tells us that it's still waiting on Netflix to approve: "XGIMI's mission is to deliver the best user experience at all times. We are actively in conversations with Netflix to integrate and run the streaming service directly and locally in our projectors. Currently we recommend Netflix users to use one of the many streaming media players for a better experience."
There's nothing stopping you from connecting an additional set-top box - like an Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV - and because of its permanent location approach and three HDMI ports, we don't feel it's as big an issue as it is on the company's more portable devices.
Setup is crucial to getting the most out of the projector, as is a tall ceiling if you want to achieve those bigger picture sizes. Thanks to that wide-angle lens you can get a 120-inch display if you place the Aura 11.7-inches away from the wall, or up to a 150-inch display if you place it just 17.3-inches away. The distance from the wall is unlikely to be an issue, but the height it needs for that big picture is probably what will restrict your final image size.
The Aura doesn't feature automatic picture calibration, sizing, and keystone correction though. It does feature an eight-point manual correction feature, which is controlled via the remote, to help you get everything in focus and shape.
Things can get tricky though. You'll need to make sure the projector is as level as it can be (it would have been nice for XGIMI to feature a built-in spirit level at the back) and your walls will need to be as flat and smooth as possible to achieve a perfect rectangle projection regardless of how much correction you can manipulate. As you can see from the image above, our wall isn't as flat as we thought - and that means you'll get kinking in your image regardless of how much you try to manage the correction.
Watching TV and movies
- Non-replaceable lamp rated for 25,000 hours (8.5 years at 8h per day)
- 2,400 Lumens maximum brightness
- 4K, HDR10, MEMC (60Hz), 3D
Out of the box and picture quality is great. A high Lumens count ensures you can watch a projected image in a room with the curtains open and the lights on. But it gets better the darker the environment you are watching in gets.
If you want to customise things further then you can. There's both pre-set brightness and image mode settings depending on what you are watching: Football, Movies, Games, and so forth. Movie mode will darken things down but the available brightness still means things are bright and clear.
Tweaking those image modes will vary the picture, but you don't really need to spend the time. We found it was a case of picking which one you like and sticking with it. In our tests we watched a number of movies from James Bond: No Time To Die to Luca to a number of the enhanced-for-IMAX Marvel titles.
It's an impressive display with great colours and able to happily cope with both upscaling content from HD or coping with games (as long as you aren't looking for 120Hz support). There's also 3D support for those who still enjoy that format (if such a group still goes exist).
The Aura might be a big projector, but its 4K picture quality is excellent onto smooth and flat walls - and it's certainly bright enough to let you watch in most conditions, curtains open or not.
The catch is that it's not something small and insignificant that it will simply disappear into your lounge without being noticed. You'll also need to make sure the surface you're projecting onto is flatter than flat - meaning you might have to get a dedicated screen if your walls aren't up to scratch.
If you can get around those foibles, however, then you'll be mightily impressed with the picture quality for the price. Short throw projectors won't be for all, but for those the XGIMI Aura will suit, it delivers strong.
XGIMI Horizon Pro
This lightweight and easy-to-move-around 4K projector delivers a great picture quality for the money. Connectivity options are wide ranging, while the quiet operation makes this ideal for those who want to up their viewing experience without really pushing the budget to excess.