For years it was all about pixel peeping, about the finest visuals you could possibly get. And then it was about framerates, with many gamers foregoing the likes of 4K for a more stable image.
But what would you say about moving away from 4K and heading back to good old Full HD, 1080p and the like, full time? What if it meant the screen size you were playing on was two, three or more times the norm. What if you needed to completely alter your gaming set-up and space to allow for such madness?
Sounds crazy huh? That’s what we thought until we went hands-on with the XGIMI Horizon projector for all our gaming (and TV) needs.
Game changer? Very flipping nearly.
For the most part, gaming – and life in general – is all about getting better. Better ideas. Better mechanics. Better visuals. Better sound.
Most of that comes about through better consoles, as the march on to reality continues, whilst better televisions and monitors aid matters. It’s seen us go from the early days of video games, through 8-bit to 16-bit, from CRT to flat and curved panels, from standard definition to Full HD, through to 4K and 8K. Framerates have improved, pixel density has got sharper, lag and latency issues long passed by.
But what if we stepped back to something that, on paper, could be seen as a downgrade, even if we could negate the negatives with an upgrade of massive proportions? What if we went from the most modern tech to an idea that has long been in the pipeline? It’s that which the XGIMI Horizon projector attempts.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve done away with our 50 inch 4K television, moving everything connected with it – well, nearly everything – to a projector. A projector that maxes out at 1080p. You may wonder if we’re on the verge of going mad, but honestly – and you’ll hear us using these words a few times – game changer.
In fact, we are not sure how on earth we are going to go back.
Let’s get something down before we get too involved in the details – a projector is not going to be for everyone. It’s probably not going to be for most, certainly not for the majority. But if you do have a lifestyle, a space, a set-up that does cater for it, we’d urge you to consider one in an instant. We never really thought we were in that category of gamer, of film or TV watcher. We’ve proved ourselves otherwise.
So, the XGIMI Horizon projector. What have we got?
This is a box of brilliance; a black and grey cube (roughly eight inches round, five high) of delights which will be just at home on a sideboard top, wall shelf or hanger. Fronted by a huge lens that fires out the visuals, backed up by a small, pretty silent rear-mounted fan to dispense the heat (and yeah, this gives off some serious heat), thanks to some serious magic found within, you can pretty much set this thing up wherever you deem fit; straight on to a wall, off at an angle, up high or down low. With keystone correction along with manual and automatic alignments, as long as you get the XGIMI within some fairly wide parameters, moving screen corners to suit is a simple task.
The included LED lamp source has an expected life of some 30000 hours, but further to that, the XGIMI covers a ton of bases. You’ve got 3D visual support in house (ah, 3D), 2200 ANSI Lumens to ensure it’s pretty much fine for any brightness of room, HDR10 included and capabilities of running a low 18.2ms latency. And if you take the press blurb as read, it’ll give you an image size of anything from 40″ to 200″ too, booting up in some six seconds. That feels about right to us.
Of course, you can’t get totally up close and personal like you can with some short-throw projectors, so you’ll need some decent distance between the unit and your wall. We’ve had the XGIMI Horizon positioned roughly a metre or so off the floor, three away from the wall we are projecting on, at a very slight angle. It’s proven to work really well at all times, set-up and rolling in a matter of minutes.
We’ve used this for gaming on Xbox Series X, on PlayStation 5, connecting up our Steam Deck and pushing Sky TV through it. With Google TV and Chromecast built-in, grabbing your favourite Apps from the Play Store, installing them onto the XGIMI and playing direct is an easy process. Admittedly, we are already super deep into Google’s ecosystem (Stadia Founders Pack owners and refund-grabbers, that’s how deep) and so setting things up took us mere minutes.
Whatever we have watched, cast or played, we’ve been hugely impressed with the quality of the image; sharp, crisp, lag free. A variety of different image modes help and if you want to ensure the most optimal conditions, you can work through a number of those at will – Game, Movie, Football, Office or Custom. It’s that initial option which will have the XGIMI running ultra low latency, perfect for your game playing time, but honestly, using any of those for our most intense gaming sessions has been absolutely fine. And whilst the XGIMI Horizon may skimp on the 4K to ensure that latency is kept low, we’ve not missed that full 4K shine at all; that is testament to the quality of image that has been on offer. If you do need 4K, the Horizon Pro is probably more suited over the standard variation, but then you’ll only have a Gaming latency level of some 35ms.
Don’t get us wrong, pixel peepers will no doubt complain about the downgrade, but for us, it’s much less of an issue. What is being projected is of a really high standard, keeping up with the framerates we want.
Controls are brought about via a quad grouping of touch sensitive buttons on the top face of the XGIMI – volume up and down, power button and the like. These work well and are a nice touch to have for whenever the remote is out of reach, but the vast majority of time you’ll be wanting to use the controller that comes packaged.
A thin sliver of a unit, silver and black in design, the button placements of the remote are well considered; a mix of concaved and convexed buttons means it’s easy to feel your way around in the dark. The usuals are there too: power, volumes, a back button, home, settings, a Google assistant button (to go with that included Google TV and Chromecast built-in), instant refocus and a radial dial with an enter button centred.
Aside from a slightly cheap feel, especially around the battery pack where things rattle ever-so-slightly, the remote is a good one. The on-screen UI that this remote works through is cleverly laid out too; it’ll take you just a few hours of fiddling to really be at home with what the XGIMI Horizon projector is capable of offering up.
It all sounds pretty damn good too. A couple of 8w Harman Kardon speakers are built into this little box of tricks, firing sideways to fill any room. They get as loud as you could possibly want, all whilst keeping clarity and detail. Perhaps for our personal liking they do feel a tad tinny, with the need of a smattering more bass, but then we usually have our audio powered by a full Sonos set-up including a beefy Sonos Sub, so it is pretty much to be expected that the little XGIMI Horizon can’t compete. Of course, HDMI-ing Sonos Beam into the projector fixes that.
That does bring up another slight issue though – the XGIMI’s pair of HDMI-in ports. It’s a shame that just two are included here, even when you consider that a couple of USB-A’s, an optical and an ethernet port are all in place. Strapping an Xbox console, a PS5, a Nintendo Switch dock, Steam Deck dock, Sky Q box and that Sonos system just doesn’t go, and so HDMI splitters and switches are going to be an essential part of your set-up. Unless of course you want to go fiddling with the constant install and uninstall of a cable. It’s not something that fills us with joy though.
But then, move from a standard TV and gaming set-up to making the most of a projector and you’ll probably need to change much up in terms of equipment placement. We think that the upheaval some may see is an element of projector use that is far outweighed by the huge positives – ie, that huge screen. Others may disagree, happily keeping the 4K and their 50 inchers.
And that gets us back to the question in hand. Game changer? In a word, yes. We’d say the XGIMI Horizon projector is just that.
Don’t get us wrong, there are probably better projectors out there from bigger named companies, mostly at hugely inflated prices, and there’s not a shred of doubt in our mind that some may not wish to move away from 4K (honestly, we’re super tempted to check that version out to see how lag and latency compare). Yet if you’re looking to take the next step in your gaming life, and can fit a humongous screen in for good measure, we’d recommend the XGIMI Horizon projector in a heartbeat.
The XGIMI Horizon projector is so good we’re not sure we could ever get through another day without it. Going back is going to be tough.
Huge thanks go out to XGIMI for providing their Horizon projector for full review. If you’re looking to go big, head over to Amazon and take a look at the Horizon range. You’ll find the Horizon projector that we have reviewed kicking around for just less than a grand, whilst the the 4K Horizon Pro version comes in a tad under the £1500 mark.
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