There’s a certain scenario where having a portable projector just fits, like when you’re in the garden, having a family barbeque, and you want to put on the football or the F1. Or maybe you’re like Nick, who sets up his portable projector to have movie nights with the family. Or you have your friends round and you want to play a massive Smash Bros tournament, but don’t want to sit around your tiny 55-inch TV to do so. The XGIMI Halo is perfect, combining massive image sizes, decent clear audio and Android TV for loads of content.
The unit itself stands at 17cm tall and around 12cm wide with a depth of just under 15cm. On top is dark grey with three touch-sensitive buttons. One for play and pause and the other for volume control. The body of the Halo is a lighter grey, and for the most part, perforated for sound. Inside are two 5W speakers provided by Harmon Kardon, which sound decent enough for a portable device. It’s not going to blow you away with audio but got a decent enough throw to it, in an almost 360-degree direction. On the front is a hole at the top for the lens, and also a second much smaller hole for the audio focus function.
Inputs are scarce, but to tell you the truth, you’re probably not going to need all that many. On the back, you have the power input, a single HDMI input and a USB input too for plugging in memory sticks and hard drives to play video footage. On the base, you can find a small stand that can angle the projection slightly higher than parallel to the projector itself. I never needed to use this as my unit was at the perfect height, so I relied on the rubber base. There’s also a tripod screw on the bottom too so you can position it where ever you like in the room. There is also the ability to mount it to a wall or ceiling, and heat ventilation will be absolutely fine for both. You have a basic remote control that can navigate the menus, change the volume and source, and also acts as a microphone so you can use the onboard Google Assistant to find content more easily.
The setup was pretty painless. The Halo runs on Android TV, so it was a case of opening your Google app on your phone if it’s Android of course and pairing the two devices together. All in all, it took no longer than 10 minutes before I found myself on the homepage. During the setup though, a nice feature was the ability to transfer apps across to the Halo from my phone, of which I selected Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Netflix and even Geforce Now for a bit of gaming. There’s also the little camera on the front, that helps with projection placement and focus. Now, you can let XGIMI sort this out for you, and just set everything to auto. But you’ve also got manual settings to choose from too, like keystone adjustments which allow for a 40-degree correction, manual focus settings and also projector placement for ceiling mount protection. I’m surprised that for the most part, the auto features were actually pretty accurate, and if I was being super fussy, the keystone was slightly off when I first hit the main menu, but thanks to the gyro correction, it fixed it pretty seamlessly. So I was super impressed with that one.
One thing that surprised me quite a bit though was the fact that the XGIMI Halo doesn’t support a native Netflix app. During setup, the Halo asked which apps I wanted to transfer over from my phone. Of course, being a projector, and the nature of the beast, I chose Netflix. But when I went to open the app on the Halo, it came back with an error message. I’ve been assured by XGIMI, and have used this method to receive Netflix on the device, however. A representative from XGIMI told me that the Netflix app is “actually something XGIMI had no choice over, Netflix is a closed system and would not approve XGIMI to include it as of yet, so it’s not something XGIMI could control.” So to get Netflix all you need to do is search for the XTV Manager app in the Google Play store, open it, and select apps. Here you will find Netflix which can be downloaded. Though it doesn’t use the app version of Netflix, it looks more like the desktop login, it’s there and it works, so I can’t really continue my line of complaint.
What came after setup though was a little short of breathtaking! I wasn’t expecting to be so surprised, but I was. I haven’t got a traditional projector setup, and nor did I really need, though having a proper white screen, or a pure white wall will only heighten the quality of the XGIMI Halo. Instead, I’ll clarify for the sake of the review, that the wall I could best use this projector on is a light grey. But this didn’t hinder my experience at all.
The Halo opens up to the main menu, where you can find your favourited apps and other app recommendations. Halo claim that there are 5,000+ apps available for the Halo, as it’s running Android TV, and looking through the Play Store, it doesn’t seem wrong. Not that I counted 5,000 apps, there definitely isn’t inside the Google Play App Store if you search by category, but there is a lot to choose from, and most notably the top streaming services you’d normally find on a smart product like Disney Plus and Amazon Prime, and video services like Kodi and Plex. You’ve even got the likes of YouTube, which admittedly works really well, Red Bull TV, TED, CrunchyRoll and so much more video-on-demand apps plus an abundance of games, which for me, really shows off the versatility of this device. You’ve even got some health and fitness stuff, some business apps to track stocks and news and some educational apps. There really is a lot of choices to make when it comes to content. You can also cast your phone, as it’s Android/Google, you’ve got Google Chromecasting and the like available to you. So if the content works on your phone, you can display it through the projector. A nice way around the Netflix app issues I experienced.
Of course, projectors rely on light, to get the most out of them, so I would suggest either using this at night with all of your lights off or at least with blackout curtains. The ANSI Lumens runs between 600 and 800, and this is at its peak which for a portable projector, is pretty impressive, to say the least, considering other reputable brands are achieving up to 200 lumens as a peak brightness. Of course, it’s definitely nowhere near the brightest projector out there. But for a projector this size? I’m still impressed. Watching some Star Wars on Disney Plus was nothing short of pretty spectacular. And although you can only get a 1080p image out of this thing though it does accept 2K and 4K images, though the likes of something like YouTube. It’s not 4K resolution, it just accepts the signal. Now, you’re certainly going to need some space to get its maximum 300-inch image out of it. I only managed around 260-inches over the entire width of my living room. But at that size, for the most part, is brilliant. The biggest issue I found though is with darker scenes, where things looked a little less refined, and colours were a little muted. There is a way for you to try to improve the image as much as possible, which includes a few presets, and a few custom profiles where you can adjust the red, blue and green hues to improve colours and give yourself a bit of a grade if you want to.
The projector uses a method called DLP, which means… and the projection magnification is at 1.2:1. You can have this projector as small as 30-inches depending on the distance away from your wall or screen, and up to 300-inches as its maximum size which in a living room is absolutely HUGE!
Sound-wise, it’s not bad, but it’s not going to blow your head off in cinema surround sound. It’s also not going to give much in terms of bass reproduction and action movies certainly felt a little dead when watching. In the scene in Star Wars where Rey and Finn are trying to outrun Tie Fighters, explosions were extremely empty and there was no real thud… anywhere. Though the higher-pitched laser fire of the Tie Fighters and even voices are carried very well and were very clear. You’ve got to remember though that the Halo is classed as a portable projector, and the unit itself is no bigger than a premium portable Bluetooth speaker so you can’t really ask it for much. And if you’re using it to keep up with your favourite YouTubers, or for a bit of audio while you’re trying to get off to sleep, then it’s absolutely fine, and actually sounds good. Just don’t expect too much from it, as it definitely won’t deliver. I was a little shocked to see no HDMI ARC, for external sound devices, but there is a headphone port, so you could use a set of external speakers, or plug it into some kind of amplifier if you have that sort of setup in your home.
Having the ability to cast an image at 300-inches is great, and it can be a pretty unique experience. But is the Halo going to be something that takes over the living room as your main entertainment system? No. It still can’t beat a decent TV setup with some kind of soundbar for audio. It’s a device that’s pulled out for special occasions, like the ones I spoke about at the start of the video. But, as portable projectors go, it’s one of the best out there thanks to its full HD display and peak brightness. The auto setup features work a treat and save a lot of time getting set up, and its size means it can safely be carried around from house to house no problem. It does cost in the region of £600-700 though, so it is expensive for the occasional use, but it is the Euros supposedly this year, if COVID doesn’t cancel it again, so if you like your barbeques, love your football, then why not get a XGIMI Halo to watch football on the side of your house? For more information, head over to the XGIMI website.