Xgimi Horizon Ultra Review: A Colorful and Convenient 4K Projector

Published On: April 13, 2024
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Xgimi Horizon Ultra Review: A Colorful and Convenient 4K Projector

Can an inexpensive projector really live up to the Dolby Vision standard?

Xgimi Horizon Ultra Review: A Colorful and Convenient 4K Projector

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra has been making waves in the home theater community with its promise of delivering a 4K HDR experience, thanks to its unique "Dual Light" laser and LED technology and support for Dolby Vision. On paper, this projector seems to have everything going for it, but the question remains: can it live up to the hype?

I've been skeptical of HDR promises made by projector brands and had modest expectations given the Horizon Ultra's affordable price point compared to other high-end 4K projectors. However, from the moment I turned it on and saw the vibrant colors jumping off the screen, I knew this projector had something. The "Dual Light" system seemed to be more than just a marketing gimmick and images really popped.

TLDR;

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra is a compelling 4K projector that offers a highly enjoyable home theater experience. With its bright, colorful HDR images and user-friendly setup process, this all-in-one solution is sure to impress both casual viewers and enthusiasts alike. While there are more expensive projectors on the market that offer better black levels and contrast, the Horizon Ultra's overall performance, ease of use, and attractive design make it a strong contender in its price range. While not perfect, downsides are overcome by the image quality if used as expected.

Pros

  • Bright, vivid colors with excellent uniformity
  • Support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG
  • Built-in Android TV (with some limitations)
  • Impressive Harman Kardon sound system
  • Attractive, living room-friendly design
  • Easy, automated setup process
  • Long lamp life compared to traditional bulb-based projectors

Cons

  • Native contrast and black levels fall short of more expensive 3LCD and LCOS-based projectors
  • Some initial lag and slow interface (mostly resolved with firmware update)
  • Limited app support on Android TV (Netflix not natively installed)
  • High brightness mode produces excessive fan noise
  • Lack of backlighting on the remote control
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Unboxing and Design

Upon unboxing the Xgimi Horizon Ultra, I was immediately struck by its unique, almost cubic shape and stylish "Misty Gold" color scheme. The projector's leather-clad sides and motorized felt lens cover give it a premium, furniture-like appearance that sets it apart from other projectors on the market. It just begs to be sat front and center on your coffee table, though the large power brick makes this a bit less than ideal. The included remote control is well-designed and feels great in the hand, although the lack of backlighting is a notable omission.

Specs

  • Projector Type: DLP (0.47" DMD with XPR pixel-shifting technology)
  • Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Brightness: 2,300 ANSI Lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: about 175 : 1
  • Light Source: Dual Light (Laser + LED)
  • Light Source Life: 25,000 hours
  • Throw Ratio: 1.2:1 to 1.5:1 (with motorized optical zoom)
  • Digital Zoom: Yes (acceptable but not ideal)
  • Keystone Correction: ±40° (Vertical & Horizontal)
  • Projection Size: 40" - 200"
  • HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
  • Audio: 2 x 12W Harman Kardon Speakers, Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD
  • Connectivity: 2 x HDMI 2.0 (1 x eARC), 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x LAN, 1 x Optical, 1 x 3.5mm Audio Out
  • Smart TV: Android TV 11
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 10.7" x 8.7" x 6.7"
  • Weight: 11.5 lbs
Can an inexpensive projector really live up to the Dolby Vision standard? 8dda7a12 image

Features - Automated Setup Experience and Lamp Life

Powering on the Xgimi Horizon Ultra, you are greeted with a sliding fabric lens cover, which silently and automatically shifts downward exposing the lens and calibration sensors. These sensors assist an automated setup process using its built-in camera and ISA 3.0 technology, making it easy to achieve a perfectly focused and aligned picture in just a few seconds, though the full setup needs a few remote presses. This user-friendly feature is particularly valuable for those setting up the projector in a non-permanent location or who may not have extensive home theater experience. While to can be configured to auto-focus every time it is powered on, it would be nice if it would also trigger the auto-keystone each time as well. Once powered on, you then can move the projector, and when it senses motion, it will auto-keystone again.

Can an inexpensive projector really live up to the Dolby Vision standard? 5ca96f4b image

While becoming common, another advantage of the Horizon Ultra's laser-LED light source is its impressive 25,000-hour lamp life. This is a substantial improvement over traditional bulb-based projectors, which typically require lamp replacements every few thousand hours. With the Horizon Ultra, you can enjoy years of worry-free viewing without the need for costly bulb replacements.

Features - Android TV

The Horizon Ultra comes with Android TV 11 built-in, providing access to a wide range of streaming apps and services. While the app selection is somewhat limited compared to dedicated streaming devices, the projector does support popular services like Prime Video, Disney+, and Apple TV, all of which are nativized to take full advantage of the projector's 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos capabilities.

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It's worth noting that Netflix is not natively installed on the Horizon Ultra. However, Xgimi provides instructions in the box on how to sideload the Netflix app, ensuring that users can still access this popular streaming service.

When we first began testing the Xgimi Horizon Ultra with its factory firmware, we noticed some occasional lag while navigating the user interface. Upon initial startup, the projector prompts you to download apps from a list, which we did. We initially attributed the lag to background tasks and processing related to these app installations, hoping that the navigation would become snappier once these tasks were completed.

Fortunately, soon after, the projector queued up another large download – a complete update to the system firmware. We proceeded with this update, and once it was finished, we experienced a noticeable reduction in interface hiccups and lag. This suggests that Xgimi is actively working on optimizing the user experience through firmware updates, which is encouraging for both current and prospective owners.

It's worth noting that our perception of the Horizon Ultra's interface speed may have been influenced by our recent experience with a 2024 S95D Samsung TV, which boasts a remarkably fast and responsive interface. In comparison, the Horizon Ultra's interface performance could be described as perfectly average. However, it's important to keep in mind that the Samsung TV's snappy interface may have spoiled us a bit, setting a high bar for responsiveness.

The Horizon Ultra also has voice control support, which is accessible through the Google Assistant button on the remote. This feature allows users to navigate the interface, launch apps, and perform various other tasks using voice commands, adding an extra layer of convenience to the user experience.

Performance

Picture Quality and Brightness Uniformity

Can an inexpensive projector really live up to the Dolby Vision standard? e9d86dec image

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra delivers full 4K resolution using Texas Instruments' DLP technology with a 0.47" DMD and XPR pixel-shifting. This combination produces a sharp, detailed picture without any noticeable artifacts or issues associated with the pixel-shifting process.

One of the standout features of the Horizon Ultra is its excellent brightness uniformity. Unlike some projectors that suffer from hot spots or uneven illumination, the Horizon Ultra maintains consistent brightness across the entire screen, contributing to an immersive and engaging viewing experience.

The projector's "High Brightness" mode can further boost light output, but it comes at the cost of significantly increased fan noise. During testing, the fan noise in this mode was reminiscent of an airplane taking off, making it practically unusable unless the projector is installed in a soundproof enclosure. However, in normal operating modes, the Horizon Ultra's fan noise is practically non-existent, even when seated just 3 feet away from the projector on a tabletop.

Color

Another strength of the Xgimi Horizon Ultra is its exceptional color performance. Utilizing a combination of laser and LED light sources, this projector is capable of producing an incredibly wide color gamut that covers 100% of the BT.709 color space and an impressive 95% of the expansive DCI-P3 color space. This means that the Horizon Ultra can display a broader range of colors than many other projectors in its class, resulting in more vibrant, lifelike images that really pop off the screen.

But it's not just about the range of colors – the Horizon Ultra also excels in terms of color accuracy. In our testing, we found that the projector's out-of-the-box color accuracy was very good, with only minor deviations from the ideal color points. This is particularly impressive given the projector's high brightness, as many projectors struggle to maintain accurate colors at higher luminance levels.

Dolby Vision Support

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra is the first standard throw consumer projector to offer the Dolby Vision HDR format. During our testing, we found that Dolby Vision content looked noticeably better than standard HDR10 or SDR content. The added dynamic metadata provided by Dolby Vision allows the projector to optimize the picture quality on a scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame basis, resulting in more accurate colors, improved contrast, and better detail in both bright and dark areas of the image. The Horizon Ultra also offers a convenient setting in the menu where you can input the size and gain of your projector screen. This allows the projector to further optimize its performance to suit your specific setup, ensuring that you get the best possible picture quality in your viewing environment. Watching Dolby Vision titles like "The Matrix" or "Mad Max: Fury Road" on the Horizon Ultra was a great experience, with the projector's impressive brightness and color performance really shining through.

Contrast, Black Levels, and Dynamic Iris

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra's native contrast and black levels are comparable to other 4K DLP projectors that utilize a 0.47-inch DMD. While the projector delivers satisfying performance in this regard, it cannot match the deep black levels and higher native contrast of more expensive 3LCD and LCOS-based projectors.

To help optimize the viewing experience in various lighting conditions, the Horizon Ultra features a dynamic iris that adjusts based on the ambient light in the room. When the "Environmental Adaptation" feature is engaged, the iris automatically closes in dark environments to improve black levels, sacrificing some light output in the process. In brighter rooms, the iris opens fully to maximize the projector's brightness, as deep black levels are less critical in these situations.

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This dynamic iris system effectively shifts the projector's contrast ratio up and down, optimizing image quality for both dark and bright viewing environments. Users can also adjust the iris manually to fine-tune the balance between black levels and overall brightness to suit their preferences.

Zoom and Throw Ratio

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra features a motorized optical zoom lens with a throw ratio of 1.2:1 to 1.5:1, providing some flexibility in projector placement. Additionally, the projector offers a digital zoom function, which can be useful in certain situations but may result in a slight loss of image quality compared to the optical zoom.

Sound Quality

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra's built-in Harman Kardon sound system, featuring two 12W speakers, delivers good audio quality for a projector. When watching the movie "Sing 2," the vocals of Scarlett Johansson and Bono were clear and sweet, providing an immersive and satisfying listening experience. The bass was adequate for most scenes, adding depth to the musical performances. However, for a truly immersive movie experience with deep rumble, we recommend pairing the projector with a dedicated subwoofer.

The Horizon Ultra offers multiple options for connecting external sound systems, including an optical audio output, eARC HDMI, and Bluetooth. This flexibility allows users to easily integrate the projector with their existing audio setup or add a soundbar or surround sound system for enhanced audio performance. Whether you choose to rely on the built-in speakers or expand your setup, the Xgimi Horizon Ultra provides a solid foundation for enjoyable audio in your home theater.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Scarlett Johansson & Bono) | Sing 2 | TUNE

Final Thoughts

After extensive testing, it's clear that the Xgimi Horizon Ultra is an impressive 4K projector that combines exceptional color performance, brightness uniformity, and ease of use. The projector's laser-LED light source delivers shockingly colorful visuals, believable HDR, and a long lamp life.

While the Horizon Ultra's native contrast and black levels may not rival those of more expensive 3LCD and LCOS-based projectors, its dynamic iris system helps optimize performance in various lighting conditions. The projector's automated setup process, built-in Android TV functionality, and powerful Harman Kardon sound system further contribute to its appeal as a versatile and user-friendly home theater solution.

The Xgimi Horizon Ultra is a flexible choice for home theater enthusiasts and casual viewers seeking a high-quality 4K projector that delivers bold, bright images. Its impressive feature set, long lamp life, and ability to optimize image quality in various lighting conditions make it a worthy contender in its price range. We at HomeTheaterReview are proud to give the Xgimi Horizon Ultra our Highly Recommended Award. While it may not be the perfect projector for everyone, its strong performance and user-friendly features make it a standout choice for those looking to enjoy no-fuss big-screen experiences in their homes.

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