Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: XGIMI's first laser projector checks all the right boxes: vibrant colors, bright enough for daytime use, runs Android TV 10 out of the box, and has all the connectivity options you want. You do miss out on Netflix, but aside from that quibble, the Aura is a stellar choice if you're in the market for an ultra-short-throw laser projector.
Outstanding picture quality
2,400-lumen brightness is good for daytime use
60W built-in audio
Android TV out of the box
Netflix still doesn't work
No autofocus or automatic keystone correction
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XGIMI is seeing a lot of momentum in the projector category, and while the brand made its name on the back of portable projectors like the Halo+, it has ventured into the high-end segment over the last 15 months with the Horizon Pro, a 4K projector that's among the best you can get right now.
While XGIMI has an extensive catalog aimed at various categories, it didn't offer an ultra-short-throw (UST) option — until now. The Aura is XGIMI's first offering in the UST laser projector segment, and it goes up against recent entrants like the VAVA Chroma and the more established Optoma Cinemax P2.
The XGIMI Aura offers 4K resolution with HDR10, a throw ratio of 0.233:1 that means you can put it right next to a wall and still get a big picture, 60W built-in sound, and Android TV 10 out of the box. In short, it nails the basics, and while the retail price of $2,499 sounds like a lot, it is undercutting its rivals by some margin. I used the Aura for nearly two months, and this is what you need to know about XGIMI's first ultra-short-throw projector.
XGIMI Aura: Price
XGIMI unveiled the Aura back in October, and the projector is now available from XGIMI's website for $2,499. It retails for £2,149 ($2,895) in the U.K. and is also available in India for an eye-watering ₹350,000 ($4,699). XGIMI's projectors are sold on Amazon as well, but the Aura is yet to make its way to the retailer, and at the moment, it's exclusively sold on the brand's website.
XGIMI Aura: Design
Most UST projectors look the same, but that's not true of the Aura. Instead, it has a distinctive design thanks to its silver finish. I wasn't keen on the design when I saw the renders, but the projector looks quite stylish in real life — the bulky profile reminds me of a sci-fi dreadnought.
The design aesthetic includes a fabric cover for the speakers, with the air intake and exhaust vents on the sides decked out in black. The laser housing also has black accents, and it contrasts with the rest of the design very well. XGIMI did a great job with the design here. The Aura doesn't look like a projector at first glance and should blend in seamlessly with the rest of your home décor.
The Aura is also minimalist when it comes to controls. You'll find the power button located on the right, and that's the only button on the projector. The rest of the controls are accessible via the bundled remote. On that note, the remote is one of the best I've used to date. It's the same remote that XGIMI includes with its high-end Horizon models, and the aluminum design gives it a nice heft.
You get all the buttons you need — including a D-pad, home, menu, select, and back buttons, as well as one for invoking Google Assistant and an option to adjust the screen focus — and this remote makes controlling the Aura that much more enjoyable.
With dimensions of 606 x 401 x 139.5mm and a weight of 32.91 lbs. (15 kg), the Aura is massive by any measure. On the plus side, it isn't something you'll have to move around, so you don't have to worry about hefting all that weight.
XGIMI Aura: Features
Under the hood, the Aura is powered by MediaTek's MT9629 platform, and you get 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. As for connectivity, you get three HDMI 2.0 ports with one ARC, three USB 2.0 ports, optical and 3.5mm out, and there's also the option of wired Ethernet thanks to the Gigabit RJ45 port. For wireless connectivity, you're looking at Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 5.0. I used the Aura in my bedroom, so I connected it to my Wi-Fi network, and I didn't have any issues in the two months I used the projector.
The Aura runs Android TV 10 out of the box, and you can install all of your favorite streaming services without any hassle. The interface itself is fluid and without any lag, and that's down to the internal hardware on offer. In fact, the UI is just as fluid as the best 4K Android TVs, and that's understandable when you consider how much the Aura costs.
You also get a fast boot mode that wakes the Aura in under 12 seconds, and the eight-point keystone correction is handy when it comes to adjusting the projection to your needs. Now, one of the features I like the most on XGIMI's portable projectors is automatic keystone correction, but that's missing here. Also missing is the ability to adjust focus automatically — you'll need to do that manually from the remote. Like other laser projectors, you get an IR sensor that shuts off the light source when it detects motion near the vicinity of the laser housing.
While the Aura has a lot to offer, you still can't use Netflix with the projector. I was able to log in to the service and got a message saying that the device was not optimized, but I dismissed the notification and browsed the interface. But when I tried playing a TV show, I got a message that my account could not be used on the device. This isn't limited to the Aura; all other XGIMI projectors I've used had similar issues with Netflix, so if you use the service a lot, you will need to pick up a dedicated streaming box.
Otherwise, you could just cast content from your phone; as the Aura runs Android TV out of the box, it shows up as a Cast target so that you can stream content from other devices to the projector. That said, XGIMI really needs to fix the Netflix problem on its projectors.
XGIMI Aura: Picture quality
The Aura uses a 0.47-inch DLP DMD (digital micromirror device) module and goes up to 4K (3,840x2,160). Like other projectors in this segment, it utilizes an ALPD laser tech and delivers 2,400 lumens of brightness. The laser light source is touted to last up to 25,000 hours — which means it will last a decade if you use it for over seven hours every day.
You get 4K with HDR10, and the Aura uses XGIMI's latest image engine to deliver 60Hz MEMC, making it a particularly good choice for sports. For example, watching football on the projector was a delight, with smooth motion and no noticeable jitter. And if you're not keen on this mode, there is an option to turn it off entirely.
I used the Aura mainly during the day over the holiday break, and with up to 2,400 lumens brightness, the projector delivered a bright picture with a little ambient light filtering into the room. If you're looking to pick up this projector, you should consider investing in a good ALR (ambient light rejection) screen to minimize ambient light. However, I don't have to worry about too much light making its way into the room, so I just projected the picture onto a wall, and it worked just fine.
When setting up the projector, I put it five inches against the wall and got an 80-inch projection, ideal for my needs. However, putting it nine inches away will give you a 100-inch image, and to get the full 150-inch projection, it will need to be 18 inches away from the wall.
The projector has little in the way of customizability, but you do get five brightness modes: Standard, Bright, Performance, Custom, and Eye Protection. The color balance changes with each mode, and in my use case, the Standard mode was just fine for streaming TV shows. There are five picture modes to choose from — Movie, Office, Football, Game, and Custom — with the Move mode offering the best visual fidelity.
On that subject, you get vibrant colors right out of the box, and the Custom mode gives you a little leeway when it comes to tweaking the color balance to your tastes. Changing the setting leads to a decrease in the overall brightness, and in the two months I used the Aura, I left it on Movie mode and was generally pleased with the results.
I used VAVA's Chroma 4K UST projector in recent months, and the Aura fared better when it comes to picture quality, delivering better contrast levels throughout. Streaming Dune on the projector was thoroughly enjoyable, with the Aura rendering the environment of Arrakis in vivid detail. The projector puts out 60W of sound through the built-in audio via two 15W tweeters and two 15W woofers, which is more than adequate for a small room.
XGIMI Aura: The competition
You'll find plenty of solid choices if you're looking to pick up a UST projector for under $3,000. The VAVA Chroma 4K is a decent alternative, offering 4K resolution with HDR10, and it utilizes a similar laser light source. It goes up to 2,500-lumen brightness and delivers good picture quality, but the downside is that the interface is barebones, so that you will need a streaming box. The Chroma is available for $2,999 at the moment, but that will go up to $4,699 in the coming months.
Optoma's Cinemax P2 continues to be one of the best overall options in this category, and it's easy enough to see why. The UST projector delivers 3,000 lumens of brightness, lasts up to 30,000 hours, and offers 4K with HDR10 and Alexa integration. It can go up to 120 inches and has 40W audio baked in, and at $3,150, it is costlier than the Aura by some margin.
XGIMI Aura: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want an ultra-short-throw laser projector for a home theater
- You need a projector that gets bright even in daytime use
- You're looking for vibrant picture quality for TV shows and movies
- You need Android TV installed out of the box
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You don't want to use an additional streaming box for Netflix
The Aura has everything I want in a UST projector. It has vibrant picture quality, lets you install your favorite streaming services, runs Android TV out of the box, and holds up just fine for daytime use. The built-in audio is good enough that I didn't feel the need to connect additional speakers to the projector, but if you're using it in a larger room, you'd ideally want to do so.
4.5 out of 5
The only issue I have with the projector is that Netflix still doesn't work. So you will need to plug in a streaming box to access the service; I use NVIDIA's outstanding Shield TV Pro, but there's no shortage of choice if you're looking for the best streaming devices. Considering how good the Aura is at other streaming services, your best choice is to get a budget streaming box just for Netflix.
Barring the fact that you can't stream Netflix, the Aura is the best laser projector I've used to date. The fact that it undercuts its rivals by a few hundred dollars makes it just that little bit more enticing, and if you're in the market for a new laser projector, you can't go wrong here.
Bottom line: XGIMI nailed the basics here, and the Aura is one of the best choices if you're interested in a 4K UST laser projector. Sure, there's no Netflix, but aside from that omission, the Aura gets a lot right in this category, and the fact that it costs less than its rivals makes it an easy recommendation.
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.