Hands-On Xgimi Aura Projector - Inexpensive laser TV with Android and good features
The Chinese brand Xgimi first raises the question of pronunciation: "Ex gee-mee" is correct according to the manufacturer. These days, it's easy to buy an affordable projector in Europe. Xgimi projectors are different from the rest of the pack though because Xgimi, being a truly Chinese company, does a lot of engineering and designing phases on its own instead of buying an almost complete product from some other company and stuffing it into an Xgimi-branded chassis.
The Xgimi Aura, which we were able to try out extensively at home, is a short-distance laser projector or laser TV. It needs just 30 centimeters (~12 in) from the wall to project a 120-inch image. This eliminates the need for time-consuming location searches in the room for a projector or hanging it from the ceiling, including cabling. In the end, the Xgimi Aura hardly needs more space than a conventional TV, but a correspondingly free wall surface or, even better, a screen.
|Maximum resolution||4K UltraHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), native resolution of DLP chip (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)|
|Image size||60 -120 inches|
|Operating system||Android TV|
|GPU||ARM Mali-G52 MC1|
|RAM||2 GB DDR3|
|Memory||32 GB eMMC flash|
|Connections||3x HDMI 2.0, 2x USB 2.0, optical audio, 3.5mm audio, USB-C, Ethernet, mini-USB port for maintenance, DC IN|
|WLAN||WiFi 5 (2.4 and 5 GHz)|
|Built-in speakers||4 x 15 Watt Harman Kardon|
|Audio decoding||DTS Studio Sound, DTS-HD, Dolby Audio, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus|
|further features||3D-Ready (active), HDR10, Chromecast|
|Brightness||2.400 ANSI Kumen|
|Power consumption||max. 350 watts|
|maximum volume||32 dB(A)|
|Dimensions and weight||606 x 401 x 139.5 mm, 11 kilograms (~24 lb)|
|Scope of delivery||projector, remote control, connection cable, batteries, manual|
|Price (RRP)||2799,- EUR (~$2859)|
Design and construction - Looks good in the living room
The Xgimi Aura comes home in a rather unexciting cardboard box, is securely packed inside, and is easy to take out. The only accessories are the remote control and the power cable. If you want to use a screen, you have to purchase it separately. Our first impression of the projector is positive: The slightly curved design and the matte-silver glossy plastic case look quite high-quality, and fit well into almost every living room.
Built-in speakers are found on the front, which are covered with a fabric. The Harman Kardon logo reveals that not just any speakers have been installed here. The setup is very simple, we just put the Xgimi Aura where our normal TV used to be, plug the power cable into the socket and the projector starts up.
The initial startup takes a few seconds, but the Xgimi Aura is up and running in a reasonable amount of time. If the device was in standby, Xgimi promises a very fast startup time of only 12 seconds, which we can definitely confirm. After a short waiting time, we set up the device. First, the remote control is connected by pressing a button, then AndroidTV is set up, which is also possible via a Android cell phone.
Surface and operation - AndroidTV in its purest form, but without Netflix
Those who know the smart TV functions of an AndroidTV will quickly find their way around: Xgimi does not change anything here and uses the interface provided by Google. This also means that many apps can be used, such as Amazon Prime Video, Wow (formerly Sky Ticket), the media libraries of the major TV channels, and so on.
One very important app, however, does not work: Netflix. Xgimi explains that the streaming service whitelists each partner individually, and that a relatively small player like Xgimi, with a total of about 1.5 million devices sold so far, has a hard time making a move here. The manufacturer currently recommends the use of a streaming box, which can be connected quite easily via HDMI.
The remote control that Xgimi includes is made of metal and looks very stylish. It also includes a microphone that can be used to give instructions to Google Assistant. It all works quite well, and the buttons also feel very high-quality. However, quick access buttons for the most common streaming apps would have been nice.
Picture quality and brightness - OK in brightness, better with a screen
The laser TV works by means of a blue laser beam as a light source, which can also generate red and green light with the help of phosphors. The rest is reminiscent of classic projectors: A DLP chip with millions of tiny mirrors throws each pixel individually onto the wall or leaves it unlit. Xgimi specifies 240 Hz as the change frequency for the individual light colors, but you can still see minimal color fringes if you look very closely or out of the corner of your eye. However, if you sit a few meters (yards) away from the picture, this effect disappears almost completely.
The projector has an autofocus that worked well in our test and can also be activated manually if the picture is out of focus. In addition, there is either a fast or a detailed image correction, which can compensate for distortions.
Xgimi talks about true UltraHD, but that does not refer to the DLP chip, which only resolves at 1,080p. Thus, each pixel unit on the chip has to illuminate four pixels on the screen in quick succession, which could naturally lead to faster wear and tear with such a sensitive technology as the micromirrors.
The picture impression on a slightly rough wall is nevertheless very good, native 4K content is displayed sharply. However, the real wow effect is missing, which might be due to the "faked" 4K or the fact that our test living room has large windows that cannot all be completely darkened. It is nice that Xgimi specifies 2,400 ANSI lumens in the spec sheet and not the potentially higher lumen value, which would not say much about the actual luminosity. This value tells us that you actually need a darkened room to really enjoy the color quality, so the picture always looks a bit pale even though HDR 10 is supported. A special screen for short-distance projectors could also help here. Depending on the size, you can easily invest another 1,500 Euros (~$1532) here.
The camera causes the contrast to drop a bit in our pictures, but our picture impression in real life was better and the projector does a good job with colors and contrasts in the evening with low ambient light. Without a special screen, however, the wall structure is always visible when you look closely and partially disturbs the image impression, which should be considered when you have the relatively low cost of the Xgimi Aura in mind.
Speaking of eyes, looking directly into the laser from above could damage the eyes, so the projector automatically activates an eye protection mode should an object be detected above the device.
Sound and special features - Chromecast and optical audio
Four Harman Kardon speakers on the front are responsible for the sound. They provide decent bass, which was a challenge according to Xgimi. After all, the vibrations must not be transmitted to the picture. The sound is good and absolutely suitable for medium demands, even though our Nubert speakers sound much clearer in a direct comparison.
The sound impression might be disturbed by the fan that the Xgimi Aura needs to avoid overheating. However, it remains relatively quiet at around 30 dB(A) and is only audible when you approach the device. However, with good ears, the fan noise can be heard minimally even on the couch at a distance of 2.5 meters (~8 feet) during very quiet passages in movies.
A built-in Chromecast allows the user to play content wirelessly from a cell phone or tablet. Existing hard drives can be connected to the USB ports. What is not available, however: A port for an antenna cable that could be used to receive digital TV programs. The digital video receiver is also missing. At most, this could be connected to the projector as an external device via HDMI. Other manufacturers don't offer a built-in TV tuner either, so the term Laser TV shouldn't be taken too literally, although Xgimi never uses it to be fair. The specially named Laser TV Short-distance beamer from Hisense on the other hand, comes with a TV tuner.
Verdict - Good performance for the money
The Xgimi Aura is especially interesting in view of its price: At the time of writing, the projector is available on the Internet for 2,200 Euros (~$2247), which is about the lowest price for a laser projector that works at ultra-short distances.
Of course, Xgimi's current flagship has to make some concessions: The brightness is a bit lower than that of the competition, Netflix does not work with the software preinstalled on the projector and there is true 4K in the display, but that is only achieved by a trick and is not quite as good as truly native 4K in terms of quality.
At the same time, the Xgimi is hardly inferior to much more expensive devices on the market in many areas: for example, there are high-quality built-in speakers, low noise, a chic design, a great remote control, and auto-focus.
The Xgimi Aura is a good entry point if you want to buy a laser TV for little money. However, the additional purchase cost of a screen should be considered for full enjoyment.
Actually, as with all projectors, a screen is highly recommended. In this case, it should even be a special short-distance screen that optimizes the light angle and contrasts. And that can be quite expensive.
Price and availability
The Xgimi Aura is available directly on the Xgimi website https://de.xgimi.com/products/aura or via the manufacturer's Amazon store. However, the MSRP of 2,799 Euros (~$2859) was paid there at the time of this article.
The projector can be bought for much less at various Internet retailers. When we checked out the device, the cheapest price was 2,240 Euros (~$2288) including shipping.
The test device was provided to us by Xgimi free of charge for the test period and was then returned to the manufacturer.