XGIMI’s HORIZON Ultra May Be the Most Decor-Friendly Home Theater Upgrade
Most homes are not optimally set up for a projection system. They require a large blank wall and/or screen, ambient natural light control, a sufficient distance between seating and the screen, and a place to situate the unit. It’s understandable why most people tend to rule out a projector despite the immersive cinematic pictures they produce. Even so, we believe the category merits a revisit. With new developments in laser, optical, and software technology, there are a multitude of portable projectors, unique designs, and ultra-short throw models addressing the limitations of previously bulky and dim consumer models. The new XGIMI HORIZON Ultra is one of the more handsomely designed projectors that makes a compelling argument to go big(ger) when planning a home theater upgrade.
The XGIMI HORIZON Ultra arrives as the successor to the XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K Projector, bringing with it a slew of upgrades nearly across the board, yet sold at the same price as its predecessor. The improvements include a newly redesigned modern decor-friendly form – a minimalist cube wrapped in a sedately sophisticated “Misty Gold” fabric and vegan leather. Alongside its compact 8.8 x 6.7 x 10.4-inch dimensions, the projector makes it a lot easier to place and integrate the projector in a living room than any other long-throw projector we’ve tested.
The HORIZON Ultra’s high dynamic range and wide color gamut produces a picture closer to cinematic intent of filmmakers when the projector is paired with Dolby Vision content and viewed at night (a select amount of streaming content is hosted by Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+; we previewed the projector streaming Foundation on Apple TV+). The 3840 x 2160 pixels picture out the box should appease most viewers, but a little additional manual adjustment is recommended to experience the projector’s full potential.
But even with non-Dolby Vision content – the bulk of what you’ll probably watch on this device – the projector’s hybrid laser + LED light source combo produces a sufficiently dynamic 2,300 lumens, more than sufficient when tested viewing from a distance of 10-feet from the projector to the wall. That does come up short compared to the 3,700 lumens output of the LG CineBeam, but the XGIMI also doesn’t exhibit the color fringing that sometimes makes itself known with a tri-laser projector. So while the XGIMI is a little less bright, it also didn’t strain nor distract the eyes, especially during extended scenes of quick movement that can occasionally spoil the CineBeam’s output. And most importantly, the HORIZON Ultra is capable of transporting viewers from a sense of merely watching into the realm of experiencing a film or series with a sense of cinematic grandeur.
The big “gotcha” surrounding projectors is they generally perform poorly during daytime unless you’ve got a dedicated home theater room without windows or blackout shades with a special coated reflective screen. While the HORIZON Ultra will not come anywhere close to putting out the brightness of a light emitting display like your average LED, LCD, or OLED television, XGIMI has equipped the HORIZON Ultra with a keen feature called Intelligent Screen Adaption technology 3.0 (ISA 3.0). The system uses a combination of adaptive software and optic hardware previously only found in movie theater grade or prohibitively expensive top tier projectors. The HORIZON Ultra factors in everything from a room’s ambient lighting, nearby walls and curtains, and the placement of the projector before dynamically adjusting brightness and output for an improved viewing experience. In use it’s not “night and day” difference, but it allows for acceptable viewing even with indirect sunlight present.
XGIMI has also considered the possibility your walls aren’t painted a pure reflective white. Equipped with ISA 3.0-Wall color adaption, the HORIZON Ultra can tweak colors to account for your off-white proclivities and improve color accuracy. Even so, we would recommend investing in a screen if your walls veer anywhere outside the bounds of a hint of color.
Par for the course, the unit also handles focus and keystone correction automatically, a feature that still impresses with its expediency and accuracy when adjusting after repositioning the unit. Parents and pet owners will also breathe a sigh of relief with the inclusion of enhanced eye protection; the HORIZON Ultra automatically and immediately turns off its light output when a moving object is detected in front of the projector, then turns back on when it senses an obstruction has passed.
Despite a surprisingly modest price tag of $1,699, XGIMI is positioning the HORIZON Ultra as the brand’s flagship model. The same amount would only afford you a brand name television sized anywhere between 55-inches to 77-inches in size. Compare that to the maximum 200-inches output of the HORIZON Ultra and there’s little argument that the term “home theater” better applies to one than the other.
This post contains affiliate links, so if you make a purchase from an affiliate link, we earn a commission. Thanks for supporting Design Milk!