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XGIMI Aura review: You’ll wish you had a bigger wall

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,149
inc VAT

A great 4K projector with impressive definition and clarity but rivals win on cinematic presentation

Pros 
Spectacular 4K detail
Long lifespan
Good audio and connectivity
Cons 
Cool colour palette
Images can look artificial
Motion compensation needs turning down
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The XGIMI Aura is one of a growing breed of all-in-one home cinema systems that give you a massive image and matching sound anywhere you’ve got a big enough wall. Place it on the floor or a low table as close as two away, and you can have a huge 4K picture up to 150in in size, complete with DTS or Dolby Audio sound.

Plus, with a built-in Android TV streamer, you don’t even need to plug anything else in beyond the mains cable. It’s an expensive way to replace your TV or build a home cinema but you’ll struggle to find anything this easy to setup that can create an image on such an epic scale.

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XGIMI Aura review: What you need to know

Like rival units from Optoma and Samsung, the Aura is built around an ultra-short throw DLP laser system with a 4K resolution. As with most similar designs, that resolution isn’t native, with the projector using pixel-shifting at 240fps to create the 4K image; it’s so close to the real thing, however, that you’d struggle to discern that it’s not “true” 4K.

Thanks to that ultra-short throw, the Aura is capable of projecting an 80in image when it’s right next to a wall or screen and a 150in image from just over 17in away. You really don’t need much space – just a big enough wall – to bring the big screen experience into your living room.

But that’s not all there is to the Aura. Behind the fabric grille at the rear lies a four-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system, with two woofers and two tweeters delivering DTS or Dolby Audio sound. What’s more, the Aura also integrates an Android TV streamer, and not one with some dodgy fork of Android with apps that don’t work, but the same Android TV seen on many TVs and set-top boxes. The implementation isn’t perfect, as we’ll get to later but it’s great for casual watching.

XGIMI Aura review: Price and competition

As we mentioned earlier, the Aura isn’t without rivals in this space. The Optoma CinemaX P2 has similar specs, an ultra-short throw and built-in sound, and recent price drops and sales mean that you can currently find it for around £2,000.

Samsung’s Premiere LSP7T is widely seen as the market leader but it’s significantly more expensive, at around £3,000 to £3,500. At roughly £2,200, the Aura undercuts the LSP7T significantly and gives the CinemaX P2 some serious competition.

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XGIMI Aura review: Design

In terms of the basic design, the Aura follows much the same style as its competitors. Where conventional projectors have the lens and lightsource at the front of the unit, the Aura has them sitting inside a hollow towards the rear, from where they project the image upwards onto your wall or projector screen.

This design, and the 0.233:1 throw, mean you can place the projector almost directly under the viewing surface and still get an 80in image, while at 11.7in and 17.3in away you get 120in or 150in images. The projector handles the focus and basic keystoning automatically, although you can also adjust both manually using a projected target and a choice of four or eight-point correction systems. More control over the image placement and a zoom feature would have been welcome but if you have a big enough wall it’s relatively easy to get a good, sharp picture.

All the connectivity is at the rear, including three HDMI 2.0 ports, three USB-A 2 outputs, headphone and optical audio outputs plus a mini USB port that’s apparently used for maintenance and debugging. All the HDMI ports can handle 4K at 60fps although there’s no support for faster 1080p refresh rates, as on some recent gaming projectors.

XGIMI includes a slimline, metallic remote with a built-in Mic for Google Assistant and this is easily paired with the projector by pressing and holding two buttons during startup. Once that’s done the rest of the setup is very straightforward. Owners of Android phones have it especially easy and can use their handset to set up Android TV which will configure your accounts and install your most-used media apps without any hassle. You will have to input the individual usernames and passwords, however.

In most respects, this implementation of Android TV works well, but performance isn’t as good as, say, an Amazon Fire TV 4K or a Roku 4K Streaming Stick, and there are a couple of minor issues. Firstly, Netflix plain doesn’t work, throwing up an error message. Secondly, I found watching 4K content on Disney+ patchy, with stutters, pausing and juddering a little too frequent.

Luckily, you can fix either issue with ease by just inserting your own Fire TV 4K or Roku 4K Streaming Stick, or using another source, such as a games console, that has the necessary apps installed. Bear in mind, as well, that this version of Android TV is based on Android 10, and there’s little sign of any update to a later version. This might have an impact later on in the Aura’s lifespan.

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The use of a laser as a light source means you can get a much brighter image than with LED-powered projectors but without the heat and limited lifespan of a conventional projector lamp. XGIMI claims a lifespan of 25,000 hours, which is enough to watch for four hours a day for 17 years.

The light output is also more intense than either of the other options, which is why XGIMI has implemented a safety cut out. If the projector senses anything between the lens and the projected image, the picture is immediately shut off. This sensor is extremely sensitive, which makes it awkward when you’re trying to move the projector to adjust the angle and size of the image, but this is one situation where it’s arguably better to play it safe. If you have pets or small children, you’ll know why this is a good idea.

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XGIMI Aura review: Picture quality

The Aura’s biggest strength is its extraordinary grasp of detail. Weirdly enough, it’s not objectively that bright – I measured the maximum brightness on its normal brightness setting at around 170cd/m2 – but subjectively it seems incredibly so, creating sharp, evenly-lit images that positively fizz with crisp detail. I’m fairly used to seeing 4K content on a 100in screen from fairly close quarters, but I was still regularly gobsmacked by how clearly you could pick out detail on an actor’s face or in their clothing, or even in the landscapes or background scenery during longer tracking shots.

If you want the clearest, crispest ultra-high-definition image possible and you don’t have £5,000 or more to spend, then I don’t think you’ll find anything that can do better. I tried the Aura on blockbuster superhero movies, period comedies and dramas, sci-fi westerns and 4K action games, and whether I was watching The Eternals, The Magnificent Mrs Maisel, Outer Range or Forza Horizon 5, they all had the same immediate wow factor. This is a projector that can dish out images with real precision and punch. At times, watching a 4K stream of The Matrix Resurrections, the picture was almost holographic, with brightly-lit details and reflections that seem to stand out from the rest of the scene.

However, the picture isn’t always flawless. At first I found it slightly artificial and while some of this comes down to over-zealous motion smoothing, which is easily fixed, I could never get rid of this sense altogether. Effects-heavy shots in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi sometimes looked oddly layered, while the icy landscapes of early scenes in Zack Snyder’s Justice League had a weird, grainy, posterized look.

HDR effects can look spectacular, which is impressive given the limited brightness levels. However, there’s no Dolby Vision support – just HDR10 – and no Filmmaker mode to give you what the directors and cinematographers intended. What’s more, rich, inky black level response is really not the Aura’s thing.

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I’m not 100% sold on the Aura’s handling of colour, either. While it covers 90% of the Rec.709 colour gamut, my tests show a tendency to over-egg the blues, even in the standard picture mode with a flat colour balance. I’d say that other 4K projectors I’ve looked at recently, particularly the CinemaX P2 and the BenQ W1800, had richer, warmer and more natural tones. Much as I enjoyed watching 4K streaming and Blu-ray content on the Aura – again, that detail is amazing – the presentation takes some getting used to. And, while you can adjust the colour settings, other projectors give you more options for fine-tuning and control.

With games, none of this was such an issue, and the Aura made the likes of Halo: Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 look fantastic, with superb HDR effects and even more of that ludicrous detail. Just bear in mind that response times are nothing extraordinary and there are no specific gaming features or high refresh modes, so look elsewhere if 4K gaming is your focus.

On the sound side, the Aura is a big success. Sure, you’re not getting true surround sound, only a particularly wide stereo soundstage with precise steering of dialogue and effects. Yet the audio is powerful, rich and very immersive, with enough boom and clang for the most dynamic action scenes and enough subtlety to handle quieter moments. If you don’t want the bother of a 5.1 or 7.1 system, the Aura won’t leave you wishing that you’d spent the time and money on one, or even a separate soundbar.

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XGIMI Aura review: Verdict

Just to reiterate: the XGIMI Aura’s grasp of detail is extraordinarily good and, if you’re looking for a projector that can reproduce every texture in a 4K video frame, you won’t find anything better without spending a whole lot more.

The sound is also excellent, beating most TVs and matching many lower-end soundbars. However, if you’re after a more cinematic presentation without any artificial-looking motion handling, there are other projectors with more cinematic movement presentation and a richer, warmer colour palette. On some counts the Aura is close to being the perfect one-box home cinema, but on others, it falls just behind the competition.

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