Ultra short-throw projectors are becoming the norm, slowly but surely. Unfortunately, the price tags usually keep people away. The Xgimi Aura changes that up a bit, making a point towards well-performing short-throw projectors under $3,000.

A massive picture from a small unit

There is a reason UST (Ultra Short Throw) projectors are becoming increasingly popular. With a UST projector, you get an exponentially larger screen size than you’d be able to with a mainstream TV. For instance, the Xgimi Aura can display a picture size of up to 120″, which is phenomenal. Finding a TV that size would not only be expensive but lend itself to a very heavy unit.

In comparison to traditional projectors, UST or Laser TVs are built to throw an image onto your wall or screen at a very sharp angle. In essence, that means you can set your projector up right under your screen and not very far from the wall. This eliminates the need to mount your unit to a ceiling or even place it behind you where anyone walking past can obstruct the picture.

The Xgimi Aura carries a throw ratio of 0.233:1, which means a 120″ image will require the projector to sit almost 12″ from the wall and 16.5″ below the bottom of the screen. Now, this isn’t a massive deal if you plan on projecting it onto your wall, though there are a few things to keep in mind.

UST projectors are special in the sense that they throw projections up at a sharp angle. Becuase of that, there are screens that take light from an acute lower angle and reflect it right back at you, catching the image and getting you the best possible picture and visual quality. Those are called “ALR” screens, and they have a second benefit. Because they are meant to catch light from below, ALR screens are great at rejecting ambient light, hence “Ambient Light Rejection.” There are several tiers of ALR screens out there, but finding one that isn’t too pricey can exponentially enhance your viewing experience, especially if you want to watch with lights on.

In my experience, having a set of windows about five feet away from your screen doesn’t lend itself to a good picture because the light is hitting the screen laterally, which most ALR screens can’t fight against. However, I set up some blackout curtains and a couple of SwitchBot Curtain bots that can automatically close my curtains. With those closed and all of my overhead lights on, I can enjoy the Xgimi Aura in peace with the best picture it can display.

Detail and screen adjustment

The Aura is a 4K projector, hitting a standard resolution of 3840 x 2160. In fact, it seems like detail is something that the Xgimi Aura does best. With the digitally adjustable focus motor, I was able to fine-tune the Aura’s focus on my ALR screen, getting the image precisely correct. Once focused correctly, you could just about see every pixel from up close. Of course, sitting farther away on a couch won’t allow you to do so and all you’ll see is a crisp image.

On top of that, the Xgimi Aura’s screen adjustment suite of tools is easy to use and goes pretty quick. Once I had the projector set up on a TV unit, the 8-point keystone correction took only a few minutes to get through. One note is to make sure you have the Aura set up at the right height. Without that, you’ll find your image distorted very easily. I had to go through a few sessions of adjusting the legs back and forth to get my picture centered up properly.

Brightness and laser engine performance

One of the few areas where the Xgimi Aura’s budget-friendly price shows is in the brightness of the projector itself. The Xgimi Aura can output 2400 ANSI lumens, which isn’t terrible but doesn’t come close to the brightness that some other competitors can hit. Becuase the lumen count is lower, it can be harder to get the most out of the UST projector when there is more ambient light. An ALR screen certainly helps, though projecting on a wall would likely require much less light in the room.

In terms of the overall picture, the Aura really delivers a fantastic image so long as you spend the time fine-tuning it in settings. It took me about an hour or so of back-and-forth tuning to get the Aura’s image to look healthy. The image presets that come with it are either too cold or too warm, with color reproduction truly missing at times. For a while, I used a custom setting where I tuned each hue, though I eventually found myself settled on Warm. Oddly enough, even that feels a little too cool, though it works.

Another touchy subject for the Xgimi Aura was the MEMC performance. MEMC is meant to dramatically reduce jutter in on-screen content. With that motion compensation turned on, I found the performance to be hit or miss. In shows and movies with real-world subjects, the Aura handled motion well. When it came to animated shows, the projector struggled, especially when it came to mouth movements. This seems like something that can be addressed in a firmware update and it really isn’t a huge deal, though it is worth mentioning.

As far as the overall picture goes, I found myself truly enjoying the image displayed by the Xgimi Aura. The latter few points were more-so nitpicks and I found myself getting over them quite fast. The only lacking element in the Aura’s image is shadow detail, with lowlight subjects being difficult to see at times. Beyond that, Xgimi’s 4K UST makes for an excellent on-screen image with some incredible detail.

Native Android TV functionality

The Xgimi Aura certainly fits the “all-in-one” bill with Android TV running as the main operating system. Using the OS has been very snappy and easy, with the Aura running into minimal software issues during my time using it. The remote that’s paired with the Aura is a part of that Android TV experience. It has a solid aluminum build and a built-in Google Assistant button for easy access.

I paired a Chromecast with Google TV to the Aura to compare experiences, and beyond the general differences in Android TV and Google TV, I found that the native version on the Aura itself was an easier experience. Apps loaded quicker and I saw the best quality come from the Aura itself.

Final thoughts

As far as UST projectors or Laser TVs go, there are a ton on the market. With that, the price range can vary heavily, with some units getting past $6,000. Sitting right in the middle is the Xgimi Aura UST projector, which comes in at $2,799 when it isn’t on sale. While that sounds like a lot, it actually falls in the “affordable” category for UST projectors. At that price, the Xgimi Aura goes well beyond just delivering and has the potential to turn any home into a theater for a reasonable cost.

Of course, the Xgimi Aura does hit some sore points, specifically in color correction, a slightly lacking MEMC functionality, and overall brightness. However, my total experience was downright great and I can’t find another UST projector for under $3,000 that can deliver the same quality and experience. Paired with an ALR screen, the Xgimi Aura really delivers where it needs to.

Buy the Xgimi Aura UST projector

Buy an ALR screen

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