Like I mentioned in our last projector review, projectors were a hard item to sell. Not only did consumers have a different impression of low end options, it’s a product that has been largely stuck in the past. Compared to their television counterparts, they were often more complicated, costly and in some cases obtuse, making for a frustrating combo. XGIMI has taken some steps to improve the experience, with Horizon Pro looking to really shake up the competition. With a small design, useful features and smart functionality, it looks to be a winner but does it live up to the hype?
Similar to Halo, XGIMI gives Horizon Pro a very sleek and modern box. Where similar options are a rather bland cardboard box with the projectors name on it, XGIMI gave Horizon Pro a nicer white box that only highlights the most important features. Inside is some white Styrofoam holding Horizon Pro in place, with the components below. Each item is clearly labeled and presented in an extremely elegant way. After collecting the remote, power cord and finding some batteries (AAA not included), it was time to look at Horizon Pro.
After removing the protective plastic covering, I was surprised by its size. Initially I thought it was rather large, given I was use to Halo’s size (about the size of a SONOS speaker), but upon reflection, it’s actually quite small compared to equivalent units. One such unit, Epson’s Home Cinema 5050UB, comes in at 17.4” by 20.4”, whereas Horizon Pro is about 8.5” by 8.5”. This makes it super easy to move from point to point or just put it to the side and forget about.
In terms of construction, it has a sleek look with a nice metal outer shell. It looks like a good quality product, making it fine to set on a table or off to the corner. Interestingly enough, the biggest improvement was the remote. Compared to Halo’s white plastic one, this is a nice aluminum with spring loaded battery compartment and more conventional button placement. Similar to Halo, XGIMI gave each button a different feel, making it very easy to tell volume from home or anything else. Unfortunately, as nice of a step up it is, the buttons are not illuminated but it does make for a much better overall experience.
Next to typical projectors, Horizon Pro also makes things extremely simple with connections. Not only is there is a 3.5” out, which can be furthered into an RCA, there is also digital optical, HDMI ARC and for those just trying to make things work, Bluetooth. With the handful of Bluetooth speakers I had they connected and worked fine, though there was a slight delay. Other common options, like a Google Home device, can connect to Horizon Pro, which we will get into later, but I could not get it to work as an external speaker. Still, good versatility to make practically any set up work.
Almost instantly I was surprised by the speed. While Halo boots relatively quickly, compared to similar units, Horizon Pro boots in seconds. Typically I can turn it on, go to turn on my fan and it’s waiting on the Android home screen. This is just one quality of life improvement that really stood out with Horizon Pro.
Where I saw the biggest change was the auto keystone correction. Speaking for myself, I am always apprehensive about features like this. They sound great but then you find out they rarely work or there is some other catch. Having recently set up Halo on a new screen, I was not looking forward to repeating that process, one that took about seven minutes, so I was surprised it worked, consistently, as intended. In roughly a minute it pinpointed my screen and was able to align around it. Bringing it into another room yielded similar results, though this time it was simply avoiding obstacles like a picture and power outlet. The only downside is weird angles will often fail over getting a workable result. Not a huge issue but absolutely something to consider.
Another welcome change was seamless pairing with my Google Home Hub. After doing that I could turn off the projector, have it open specific apps, control the volume and a number of other things without pushing the dedicated Google Assistant button on the remote. The only thing I was never able to do was turn Horizon Pro on. For whatever reason that requires physical activation or remote press, though the rest worked as intended. Much to my delight, Horizon Pro might not be optimized for Netflix but it did load and work as intended. You’ll get a small pop up that gives an error before Netflix works as normal, correcting one of the biggest annoyances we had with Halo.
That said, I strongly suggest changing the settings to achieve optimal picture. My Horizon Pro came with max motion enhancement enabled, which made The Simpsons, the first thing YouTube TV showed me, unwatchable and caused extreme soap opera effect on commercials and live action programs. How much you’ll want will vary by the person, but having ran a couple motion tests, Horizon Pro didn’t do particularly well. That said, the importance of this will generally only matter if you’re watching sports or something similar and even then range/size will dictate how noticeable it is. Console gamers likely won’t experience any issues as most televisions disable motion handling in Game Mode anyway and will commonly be in 60FPS or less.
In terms of programs, Horizon Pro picture quality varied based off a number of factors. Brighter and simpler shows, even those below 4K, presented quite well on Horizon Pro. Movies or programs with a lot of contrast had a fair amount of light bleed, something Horizon Pro did quite well but not quite on the level of a nicer quality television. I used some of the demo videos from when I sold televisions and Horizon Pro consistently did well with color and was able to achieve good local dimming, it was just blacks that were at times lacking.
How important this is will vary though. I watched Reminiscence, Hugh Jackman’s latest, and while the film itself wasn’t particularly nice, it still gave the sense of being in a theater. Even if it wasn’t quite as pitch black was intended, it created the atmosphere projector owners are looking typically looking for.
Given Horizon Pro and my Sony OLED have about the same input lag (about 35ms) I did not have any issue playing anything, though those use to a monitor or similarly low device might. Games themselves were often hit and miss. Full disclosure, I have to use Horizon Pro to the side, so finer details like text, were somewhat blurry on the opposite side. This was really only noticeable during certain games or experiences, like character names in Super Animal Royale or some menus, but anything towards the center or opposite side looked good.
Sound will also depend on what you’re ultimately looking for. While the Harman Kardon speakers do a good job, matching what you’d expect from a nicer television. These speakers also get fairly loud, making them an okay choice for your favorite song or getting into whatever experience you have going. Those looking for richer and fuller sound will need some kind of external set up, which as previously noted, you have plenty of options with Horizon Pro.
Even though Horizon Pro has a lot of advantages, there are some details to keep in mind. While Horizon Pro is extremely portable and supports a ceiling mount, you might run into some issues setting it up like that. Part of what gives it an alluring size is an external power supply, which is a brick that is about 7” by 3.25”. Nothing impossible to work with but far more complicated than similarly speced projectors.
Horizon Pro also struggles with light. 2,200 lumens help a lot but in a very bright room or with considerable daylight it looks washed out. It will be fine in most room set ups, provided there isn’t a lot of lights on or windows but don’t expect it to be a great daytime outdoor projector. There is also a fair amount of light that will go beyond the screen. Even after pinpointing the picture to the screen, there will be some light that goes beyond the screen and can create shadows.
XGIMI Horizon Pro 4K Projector Review Verdict
XGIMI Horizon Pro is a really solid projector for the money. Not only does it have a number of features that streamline the set up and overall operation of the unit, it provides the simplicity of a modern television in an extremely portable package. In most situations it’s great and a great alternative for anyone looking to upgrade their gaming set up. Something that is especially useful for anyone thinking of stepping into the world of 4K with a new display and console. So, if you’ve been waiting for a smart projector that delivers a lot of quality, features and value for the money, it’s hard to beat Horizon Pro.
[Editor’s Note: XGIMI Horizon Pro was provided to us for review purposes.]