Today I want to talk to you about the most affordable, 4k and Dolby Vision projector on the market.
But, is it practical to swap a TV for a Projector? I honestly wasn’t sure.
I thought my wife would hate it, I thought my kids would blind themselves by staring into it and I thought however cool having a home cinema experience at home was, it just couldn’t replace my LG C1 and it’s amazing image quality.
So to explore this question, I’m going to show you if it’s practical, if it’s any good, and how to address some potential shortfalls that you might run into.
And to get started, this isn’t just going to be me reeling off a spec list.
Xgimi sent their Horizon Ultra projector to me about 2 months ago, and I’ve been using it, along with the rest of my family for those 2 whole months, so I wanted to share with you what it’s actually like, living with a projector in place of a more traditional TV.
In terms of whether it’s practical to use a projector. Well, the first challenge to solve is where to actually put it.
And since this thing is a 4k, Dolby Vision, long throw projector which can throw an image of over 100" onto a wall or projector screen, it might be tricky to find a good spot.
The further back you place it, the bigger your image will be. And speak for myself when I say I really wanted to get that full home cinema experience with a gigantic screen.
I actually had this really conveniently placed shelf which is roughly 8 feet away from my wall. And putting the projector on this gives me a screen that’s around 89” diagonally.
But if you don’t have something that’s directly behind where you want to project onto, you can place the projector to the side and it will automatically adjust itself.
First I put it on the lower shelf but ran into some issues because whenever someone stood up, or even sometimes just sat up too straight on the sofa it would cast a shadow across the picture.
I was also worried that the bright projector would be right at eye level for my kids, but the projectoractually detects whenever someone is in the way and blacks out the image which was great to see.
Eventually I decided to move the projector up to the top of my shelf so there was less interference from people moving around in front of the projector.
I also had to flip the projector upside down to keep the image in the right place, otherwise it would start projecting towards the ceiling.
I then had to prop the projector up because then the image was too low.
And honestly, this is how I’ve kept the projector for the last 2 months of using it. I’m kind of lazy when something works, then… well it works.
But the proper way to use this would actually be to use the tripod thread on the bottom and use that to position the projector properly.
Since the projector was behind me, I also had to move my Xbox and my Apple TV to the same shelf.
I’ve also been using the Apple Homepods as my TV speakers recently just to see how they perform, and since they’re totally wireless they can stay where they are - and actually it makes my whole TV area look really clean.
Other than the fact that with the projector off it’s just my sofa pointing at a blank wall. Looks kind of anti-social!
So is it practical? I think it is.
But is it any good? That’s the next question I wanted to answer. Will it be something that I would happily replace for my TV?
And there are a few issues that I want to address.
The first thing that I quickly noticed with this projector, is that my viewing experience was no longer spoilt by reflections. And I mean, ZERO reflections.
The way my room is setup means that I have a big window directly behind where I sit, and with my LG C1 TV, I’d find myself closing the blinds just to be able to see the screen properly from all the glare and reflections.
But since we’re now projecting onto a wall. There’s none of that. It’s not just that there’s no reflections though, but it’s also bright.
The Horizon Ultra uses a Dual Light configuration which makes use of both a Laser Light source for ultra-high brightness and wide colour gamut, whilst the LED Light blends in to make the image look more natural, that’s more comfortable to watch over a long time, and that doesn’t suffer from colour fringing.
Both of those combined kicks out 2300 Lumens which is good enough to watch content on even the brightest of days.
I thought I’d just look around to see what the other options were for the brightest projectors, and I was pretty shocked to see that some cost upwards of £5k, and particularly when you look at Dolby Vision projectors at £15k to £20k or higher which is insane compared to the cost of the Horizon Ultra.
Over the past couple of months we’ve watched a lot of content on this thing. Movies, TV Shows, Gaming.
And we’ve been able to enjoy watching family favourites like Luck, which is in Dolby Vision. Ted Lasso. Ahsoka.
And considering this is being projected onto a grey wall, the colour of the image has been fantastic. The only issue I really see is dark scenes where things should be black, are grey, since it’s pretty impossible to project black onto a wall with the technology we have today.
But that’s only during the day, because at night everything’s black, so then it really comes into its own with its full on theatre experience.
And when watching Avengers Endgame on a screen of this size, it took me right back to that moment of watching it in the cinema where the room fell silent and you could just feel the excitement on what was about to happen next.
So addressing the question of, is it good? Yes, it’s definitely good. But I did mention some potential shortfalls and how you overcome them.
The first challenge I had was relocating everything from its traditional location of being near or under the TV, to near where the projector is sat, which was behind me.
For devices like the Apple TV, the Xbox - that’s not a problem. It’s just moving the power, HDMI and network to the new location.
But if you have say, a Soundbar that you’d like to keep positioned in front of you, or a home theatre system, then you’ll need to buy and figure out a way to extend these systems to reach the projector.
Now in terms of shortfalls - The audio from the Horizon Ultra is actually really good. It’s got 2x 12w Harmon Kardon speakers which sound great.
But if you want to have this setup semi-permanently in your room, then it doesn’t make sense to use the built-in speakers - mainly because having the audio come from behind you is a little odd.
In terms of inputs and outputs, there’s 2 HDMI Inputs, one of them with audio return. Optical, and a regular headphone output.
So either a soundbar, connecting to your home theatre system, OR you could do what I’ve done recently in using my Homepod speakers to really add to my home cinema experience, allowing me to watch Dolby Vision content, with Dolby Atmos audio.
No of course it’s not going to be as good as a proper Dolby Atmos system, but it gets close.
And what I like about this is that when I’m not using the projector, everything just looks cleaner without having this black void of nothingness permanently there in my room.
And I think for the right house, you could do a really good job of positioning your room so it’s more social, perhaps sofa’s looking out over your garden rather than pointing at a wall. And then pull a projector screen down when you did want to watch something.
The other shortfall that might honestly be a deal-breaker for me though, is the gaming performance.
Now it’s not bad, don’t get me wrong.
I mean, what could be bad about playing your favourite games on a cinema sized screen in your home?
But the Horizon Ultra has no 120hz, and a 13ms response time. And with recent TV’s like the Samsung S95C which I reviewed recently, featuring up to 144hz refresh rate with a 0.1ms response, then this probably isn’t the one for you, if you intend to do a lot of serious gaming.
But I do know one thing, your kids will absolutely not care about that, and they’ll love having the bigger screen.
But as far as shortfalls go, I think the biggest one is that whilst this projector does have Android TV built in which you can install Apps directly onto, the interface is sluggish. The workaround for this, and probably what most people will do with a projector anyway, is plug in their external devices. Apple TV’s, Fire TV’s, Playstations, Xboxes - whatever it may be, which solves, or rather works around issues with the sluggish interface.
So realistically, the only downside that you can’t really workaround here is the gaming situation.
And is it possible to swap a TV for a projector? 100% yes, it is.
Is it good?
Yes, as long as you’re not primarily buying this for gaming.
And can you overcome any shortfalls? Almost.
What I will say, is My kids absolutely love playing games on a HUGE wall sized screen, I also love having a literal home cinema in my house. It’s made watching the latest movies much more like a cinema experience.
And given the premium priced alternatives, the Horizon Ultra may very well be the most affordable, flagship, 4k and Dolby Vision projector on the market today.