Portable projectors have been around for a while. While the technology has largely seen use in the business and education worlds for presentations, as these devices become smaller and more powerful, the question on our minds has been this: are they viable for gaming? Perhaps you have asked this question, too. Can a small form factor projector be potent enough to justify replacing a large screen TV or, at least, be an option for the road? XGIMI would like to think so. Today, we are going to be reviewing the XGIMI Halo to see if this little can of light can hit the right marks!
- Current Price: $799.00 USD (direct from XGIMI)
- Resolution: 1080p
- Screen Size: Up to 300 inches
- Brightness: 600 - 800 ANSI Lumens
- Refresh Rate: 60Hz
- Connectivity: HDMI (supports 1.4 and 2.0), Bluetooth (4.5 and 5.0), 33mm audio jack, USB 2.0 port
- Wi-Fi Support: Dual-band (2.4GHz / 5GHz) 802.11A/B/G/N
- Sound: 2x 5W speakers by Harman/Kardon
- Battery Life: up to 4 hours (based on usage)
- OS: Google Android TV 9.0
If you have ever been tempted by portable projection for big-screen gaming on-the-go, chances are, you have likely seen the same limitations we have. Outside of cost (which we will talk about in a bit), there are two major, prohibiting factors. In regards to these areas, the XGIMI Halo offers a solution. Let’s start by talking about the first of these issues: sound.
While there are portable projectors on the market that have built-in speakers, in my experience, the performance is a bit lackluster. XGIMI’s solution for this problem was to outsource their sound design to luxury brand Harman/Kardon. If you aren’t familiar with the name, it is a subsidiary of Samsung’s Harman Company, a company comprised of pro audio brands such as AKG, JBL, and Soundcraft. The results of this partnership are two 5W speakers customized by Harman/Kardon for the XGIMI Halo.
The second issue that typically plagues portable projectors is brightness. Where many projectors in the smaller size bracket tend to struggle to crest 600 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Lumens, the XGIMI Halo reaches up to 800 ANSI Lumens on its brightest settings. On paper, this means that this projector’s picture quality is going to be fairly vibrant in areas with ambient light - more so than a projector with a lower ANSI Lumen rating… even is the surfaces are not perfect.
(If you are interested in knowing more about all of the terminology surrounding projectors, especially as it deals with the difference between lumens and ANSI lumens, our friends over at BENQ have a fantastic article on that. You can find that here along with a series of incredibly helpful articles.)
While the Halo seeks to tackle the issues plaguing portable projectors, that isn’t all XGIMI aimed for with this unit. Sticking with the theme of picture quality for a moment, the Halo utilizes digital light processing (or DLP projection). This type of projection handles motion blur better than LCD- or Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) based projectors, which is a must for any type of gaming display.
Assisting the Halo is an autofocusing sensor that adjusts the Halo’s picture to the surface it is projecting to. On startup, this sensor will check the state of the surface and adjust accordingly. If the option is selected (which is by default), the Halo will automatically key the image if it detects that the unit is off-axis.
Finally, the Halo comes equipped with Android TV OS, giving it access to all that the Google Play Store has to offer. From the litany of Google-owned apps (i.e. YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV), third-party TV apps such as Hulu and Prime Video, and the myriad of mobile video game titles, that XGIMI Halo truly is a grab-and-go unit.
These features (and promises) are great on paper, but now we need to look at it in practice.
Taking the Halo Out to Play
I had a few weeks with the XGIMI Halo to put the product through its paces and to see what I could and could not do with it. There are some things that I discovered that I was both pleasantly surprised by and others that left me wanting. While using the Halo, I tested out a few apps recommended by XGIMI alongside the perfect portable pairing for gaming: the Nintendo Switch.
I tested the Halo on a couple of surfaces, from the most ideal (white, flat painted wall) to ones that are found in a typical home setting (lightly colored walls with some texture). My thought going into this test was that, unless you have a perfect surface like a projection screen, the picture quality of the unit would suffer. I was stunned to find out that, within reason, I was wrong.
While the picture quality of the Halo is quite nice on flat, white surfaces, it looks equally good on an average household wall as well. Even on a surface that is semi-textured with an unmissable yellow hue to it, the colors were still vibrant and without any discernible tinting from the wall’s color. Granted, this particular test was at a closer distance (~6 feet) to the wall, it still felt impressive for a projector of its size.(white wall)(yellow wall)
The Harman Kardon designed speakers provide the projector with a robust sound, right out of the box - with one small catch: you need to have the volume turned up quite high to get the best quality out of it. To my ears, the speakers lacked a bit in the low- and low-mid frequencies, but not so much so that they are absent from the mix.
When considering this, I had to keep in mind that the Halo is a portable projector. Priority for power is going to go to the picture quality and brightness. Driving lower frequencies has a higher power demand. This sound issue can be solved by connecting the Halo to an external speaker via Bluetooth or 3.5mm jack, if you should desire.
Speaking of power, the battery life is decent. The XGIMI Halo is advertised to get up to 4 hours on a 5-hour charge, but I found that the battery lasted around two hours when using the HDMI port and the internet. While this is unsurprising, it still isn’t bad; this duration would cover most movies… unless you are trying to watch the Snyder Cut! A fair warning: if you are using it to watch a longer movie or in the midst of a longer play session, be aware that once the Halo reaches a lower power level on the battery, the brightness will automatically reduce.
Before diving into my final thoughts, I do need to talk for a moment about pairing devices with the XGIMI Halo because one of their advertised features is easy pairing with Android and iOS devices. I was hoping that, being an Android-equipped product, I could pair the Halo with a Google Home to utilize its speaker. That idea, however, died very quickly… so did the idea of pairing with iOS devices. While Chromecasting works fine, in order to use Apple AirPlay, a third-party app is required. The results were lackluster. Image quality and sound were less than ideal. That, however, has less to do with the Halo’s all-around performance and is more a commentary on the app itself.
There is no denying that the XGIMI Halo is a neat product. As a grab-and-go solution for big-screen gaming and media consumption, it checks most of the boxes. It provides stellar picture quality in a small form alongside modest battery life and sound. But all of that comes at a price.
At $799 USD, the XGIMI Halo is certainly cost-prohibitive for the average consumer. However, a portable projector isn’t exactly a standard household item; you have to have a very specific need for something like this. For example: if you are looking for a multimedia solution to take camping or to settle a neighborly dispute with an outdoor evening of Pokémon battles, the XGIMI Halo might be the solution for you, albeit a pricey one.
When I look at the landscape of projectors and the price point that the XGIMI Halo falls within, the Halo shines bright. There are few that rival what it has to offer in spec-to-spec comparison, specifically when it comes to ANSI lumens and on-board sound delivery. While both have their limitations, these features the Halo brings to the table make this a highly versatile piece of technology.
Is it a TV replacement? In most cases, hardly. However, if you were dipping your toes into setting up a home theatre system with the option of having a portable projector for where life takes you, the XGIMI Halo is certainly a potent option with tons of possibilities.The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.