Android Central Verdict
The Horizon Ultra comes with a slate of new features that give it an edge over the Horizon Pro. It uses an LED with a laser light source, delivering a brighter projector and vibrant colors, and there's Dolby Vision integration this time around. Picture quality is outstanding with just about any SDR and HDR source, and Dolby Vision content in particular is a delight to watch. It's also extremely easy to set up and use thanks to auto keystone correction and auto focus, and there's a new feature that dynamically tweaks the color balance based on the viewing surface. In short, the Horizon Ultra is one of the best 4K home projectors currently available.
Outstanding picture quality
Bright 2,300 lumen projection
Vibrant colors with both SDR and HDR content
Android TV 11 out of the box
Auto keystone correction and auto focus
Dynamically adjusts colors based on viewing surface
Low-latency mode is great for gaming
Still no native Netflix integration
No media playback buttons on the projector
Remote doesn't have backlit keys
No 4K at 120Hz
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XGIMI is a brand that needs no introduction. The manufacturer carved out a niche for itself over the last four years on the back of terrific portable projectors in the Halo and MoGo series, and more recently it forayed into the UST category with the Aura, one of the best ultra short throw projectors currently available.
The Horizon series is the brand's home cinema line, with the standard model offering 1080p resolution and 4K limited to the Horizon Pro. XGIMI is now rolling out a new variant: the Horizon Ultra. Dubbed the next-gen model in the series, the Horizon Ultra features a hybrid LED and laser system, 4K resolution with Dolby Vision integration, and a low-latency gaming mode.
The best part is that the Horizon Ultra isn't selling at a significant premium; the projector is debuting at $1,699, which is less than what the Horizon Pro launched for two years ago. So let's take a look at what you're getting with the Horizon Ultra, and why it's worthy of consideration.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Pricing and availability
XGIMI unveiled the Horizon Ultra on August 31, and the 4K smart projector is now up for sale on the brand's website for $1,699. It's also listed on Amazon, and XGIMI notes that other retailers and regions will receive the product in the coming weeks.
I've been using the Horizon Ultra for just under two weeks, and in that time, I streamed several dozen hours' worth of footage, including football matches, TV shows and movies, and the occasional game.
|Category||XGIMI Horizon Ultra|
|Image Size||40 - 200 inches|
|Image Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|HDR||HDR10 with HLG|
|Software||Android TV 11.0|
|Casting||Chromecast built-in, Magicast|
|Ports||2 x USB 2.0, 2 x HDMI (one with eARC), Ethernet, Optical, 3.5mm out|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 BLE|
|Display chip||0.47-inch DMD|
|Color Gamut||95% DCI-P3|
|Lamp Life||25,000 Hours|
|Speaker||2 x 12W Harman/Kardon|
|Features||Auto keystone correction, auto focus, Intelligent Screen Alignment 3.0, Intelligent Obstacle Avoidance|
|Dimensions||224 x 170 x 265mm|
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Design
I tested most projectors XGIMI launched over the last two years, and one of the things that stood out was the consistent design language across the entire portfolio. XGIMI went with a brushed metal aesthetic that made its products look great, and while that same design was seen in the MoGo 2 Pro that debuted earlier this year, the brand is switching things up with the Horizon Ultra.
The projector features a brand new aesthetic that can be summed up in one word: gorgeous. XGIMI moved away from the brushed metal design of the Horizon Pro and instead decked out the Ultra in PU leather and fabric, and the result is that the projector looks much more upmarket.
The Misty Gold color accentuates the design, and the change of materials makes the Ultra look very distinctive — this isn't a projector that you tuck away in a corner; instead, it is designed to be the focal point of your living room.
What's particularly cool about the design is the fabric grille at the front; it slides down to surface the lens, and the mechanical action makes using the Horizon Ultra that much more enjoyable, while ensuring the lens is covered when the projector is not in use. The back of the projector has a vented design, and there's a fan underneath that ensures the projector doesn't overheat. I don't usually talk about the power cable, but it's worth a mention here as it is also decked out in the same tan finish as the projector.
The Horizon Ultra is significantly larger than the Horizon Pro, but it misses out on built-in controls. There's just a power button located at the back, and you don't get the media playback controls that are located on the top of the Horizon Pro. This isn't a huge omission as most of the time, you'll end up using the remote to play or pause media, but it would have been nice to have.
Other than that, XGIMI knocked it out of the park in this area. The Horizon Ultra looks every bit as premium as its price tag suggests, and it is just about the best-looking projector I've used. While the design isn't usually a huge consideration with these products, it's refreshing to see the attention to detail lavished here.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Features
XGIMI went with a standard set of ports at the back of the Horizon Ultra: you get dual USB 2.0 ports, two HDMI ports with one designated as eARC, optical and 3.5mm out, and an Ethernet port. And when it comes to wireless connectivity, there's Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 LE. I didn't see any issues with connectivity, and the Horizon Ultra maintained a rock-solid connection to my router over Wi-Fi.
Like most XGIMI projectors, the Horizon Ultra has auto keystone along with auto focus, so setting up the projector is about as straightforward as it gets. XGIMI is rolling out the latest iteration of its Intelligent Screen Adaption tech, which uses a combination of software and hardware to make on-the-fly adjustments to the watching environment to deliver the best picture quality. On the hardware side, the feature relies on sensors that automatically adjust brightness, contrast levels, and colors, and you also get an optical zoom lens that assists with screen scaling.
The goal with the tech is to deliver consistent image quality in any situation, and that includes increasing the brightness in daylight hours — if there's a lot of ambient light in the room — and boosting colors at night. The feature also tweaks the color balance based on the surface the image is being projected to — a new addition.
Normally, I adjust the color balance manually to account for the projection surface, but the Ultra was able to do so automatically, and that made using it a lot easier. There's a considerable difference in the picture quality with this feature, and if you're eyeing the Horizon Ultra as a portable option and want to move it from room to room, you'll love this particular feature.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Picture quality
The Horizon Ultra has a throw ratio of 1.2-1.5:1, and it can project up to a 200-inch image. It is significantly brighter than the Horizon Pro, going up to 2,300 lumens. The Horizon Ultra isn't a native 4K projector, but like other products in this category, it uses pixel shifting to deliver a 4K image with a 1080p source.
There's a noticeable difference over the Pro variant in daily use, and what's particularly great is the Ultra's ability to dynamically change brightness and colors based on ambient lighting conditions. I used the Horizon Ultra in a room with a lot of ambient light, and even in that scenario, the projector did a phenomenal job, producing an image that was bright and with vibrant colors.
On that note, there are six color modes available: Cinema, Vivid, Bright, Performance., Custom, and High Color Accuracy. Cinema mode is selected out of the box, and it produces accurate colors with great contrast levels. The Bright mode definitely comes in handy if you're interested in using the projector with a lot of ambient light, and the Custom mode lets you tweak individual parameters.
You get a decent selection of display modes as well: Movie, TV, Football, Game, and Custom. The Movie mode is enabled by default, and it honestly works best for a lot of content. The Football mode is great for sports, but it's aggressive when it comes to motion smoothing, and I just left the projector in Movie mode for a bulk of the testing window.
The Game mode is interesting because it reduces the latency to as low as 18ms, making it the obvious choice if you're interested in gaming on the projector. You don't get 4K at 120Hz as it's limited to 60Hz, but it still makes a tangible difference over the other modes.
The biggest differentiator for the Horizon Ultra is Dolby Vision integration, and the projector does a brilliant job handling HDR content. TV shows or movies that are coded with Dolby Vision have excellent color vibrancy and brightness levels, and I didn't see any issues in this area. The projector also handles 1080p and SDR content really well, and overall there's a definite uptick in picture quality over the Horizon Pro.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Sound quality
The Horizon Ultra features dual 12W drivers that are located at the front, and they're tuned by Harman/Kardon. The onboard sound quality is pretty great, and while I wasn't sure about how loud it was going to be, it filled a small room without any issues.
Given the picture quality on offer, you're still better off investing in a good soundbar to make the most out of the projector, but if you are thinking of a portable use case, the onboard audio of the Horizon Ultra is great in its own right.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Remote
The Horizon Ultra uses the same remote as other XGIMI home projectors, but like the rest of the design, it's decked out in a gold hue that looks rather good. It has the same button layout, and the brushed metal design feels great in the hand. The only quibble I have with the remote is that it doesn't have backlit buttons; this is one of my favorite features on the Shield TV remote, and XGIMI should consider adding it in a forthcoming version.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Software
I reviewed most XGIMI projectors over the last two years, and a constant refrain was the lack of Netflix integration. That situation hasn't changed in 2023 with the Horizon Ultra — there's still no native Netflix client. For what it's worth, XGIMI has a workaround that makes it relatively easy to install Netflix, but it's not an ideal situation as you don't get Dolby Vision content this way — it's limited to 1080p.
That's a real shame, because Netflix has the largest library of Dolby Vision content at the moment, and I was keen on seeing how the projector would hold up in titles like Our Planet. That said, the fact that you can actually install Netflix and stream content on the service is a big deal in and of itself.
The rest of the software is pretty standard fare; you get the usual Android TV 11 interface, and while I'm not a fan of all the recommendations, it is easy to navigate. Even though the projector has just 2GB of RAM, there isn't noticeable lag in daily use, and you get 20GB of usable storage.
Other than the Netflix issue, you have full access to the Play Store and can install your favorite streaming services without too much of a hassle.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: The alternatives
There's a lot of choice if you want a 4K laser home projector. The JMGO N1 Ultra is a great alternative if you need a projector with a bright projection source. It has a unique gimbal-style design that makes it easy to set up and use, and it delivers incredible picture quality. It is costlier at $2,079, but you're also getting more in the way of hardware, including HDMI 2.1.
The BenQ HT3550 is also a good option to consider if you want a projector with HDR10+ and dynamic color balance. It misses out on the smarts, but coming in at $1,199, it is considerably more affordable than most of its rivals.
XGIMI Horizon Ultra: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want a 4K projector with outstanding picture quality
- You need Dolby Vision integration
- You want a projector that's straightforward to set up and use
- You need a projector for gaming
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You want to stream Dolby Vision content in Netflix
XGIMI ticked all the right boxes with the Horizon Ultra. Coming in at $1,699, the projector makes the Horizon Pro obsolete, and that's a testament to how fast the industry is moving. The new dual light laser source delivers brilliant colors and brightness levels, and the picture quality is among the best in this category. The addition of Dolby Vision makes the Horizon Ultra a particularly great choice for HDR content, and the projector holds its own for SDR content as well.
What I like the most is how easy it is to set up and use the Horizon Ultra — that makes a huge difference if you're thinking of using this as a semi-portable projector. XGIMI did a standout job combining hardware sensors with the software, and the ability to dynamically shift colors based on the viewing surface is a huge addition.
Overall, the Horizon Ultra is one of the best 4K home projectors you can get at the moment, and the feature-set combined with the stellar picture quality makes the projector an easy recommendation.
With a 2,300 lumen projection and Dolby Vision integration, the Horizon Ultra offers considerable upgrades over the Pro model. Combine that with a slate of new features designed to deliver the best picture quality in any lighting condition, and you have one of the best 4K projectors currently available.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.