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I replaced my TV with this long-throw projector and it's absolutely worth it - especially for $200 off

Xgimi's Horizon Ultra projector is the best home theater system I've tested in a while, and it's more accessible than ever.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Xgimi Horizon Ultra Projector
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

What's the deal?

Following Amazon Prime Day, Xgimi still has its Horizon Ultra projector discounted by $200, bringing it down to $1,499.

Why this deal is ZDNET-recommended

When it comes to reviewing tech, a lot of the things that fall into my wheelhouse revolve around mobility, from flipping smartphones to thumb-sized action cameras. When I'm not out and about, I like to dedicate my downtime to electronics that make life at home more enjoyable, like this projector I tested last year.

The Horizon Ultra from Xgimi (pronounced "ex-gee-me") is the latest entry on my running list of projector candidates for my bedroom. When you have a large white wall across from your bed -- and you're not overly passionate about anything enough to get some posters -- projecting movies and videos just makes sense.

Also: The best projectors of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Here's the thing: Finding the best projector is not as simple as looking at the specs alone. You really have to set the thing down, get a feel of how it fits in with that houseplant beside it, determine if the output looks satisfactory both in the daytime and nighttime, and finally answer the question of "Is this worth it?"

Here's another thing: The Horizon Ultra may be the end game of my home projector quest. It delivers some of the best picture quality I've seen, doesn't sound like a blow-dryer when I increase the scaling, and dare I say, at $1,699 (or $1,499 at the time of writing), is not expensive at all.

View at Amazon

I'll talk about the elephant in the room first, especially if you're at the beginning stage of projector shopping: that price. $1,699 is half the commitment of Apple's Vision Pro headset, and easily a month's worth of rent someplace, somewhere. If you're at the deeper end of the rabbit hole, you'll know that $1,699 (or $1,499 following Prime Day) is the starting price for flagship projectors.

Also: Samsung's biggest ever outdoor TV sports an enormous price to match

In fact, the previous-gen Horizon projector started at $200 more, so my initial estimation for the Ultra model, which fields a brighter output, dual LED and laser technology, Harman Kardon speakers, and a motorized lens cover, among other things, was closer to $2,000. (I had mentally prepared to call Xgimi out for up-charging on its new projector, but that clearly won't be necessary.)

That said, here's what you're getting for the money. First, the design of the Horizon Ultra makes it clear that this isn't your ordinary light bulb boxed in a glossy white casing. There's a beige PU leather coating (read: plastic leather) that wraps around the device, providing an elegant appearance that effortlessly uplifts the surrounding furniture. "Misty Gold" is your only color option with the Ultra, but I find it just neutral enough to suit most home decor.

Kerry Wan/ZDNET

When you turn on the Horizon Ultra, the motorized lens cover automatically pulls down, revealing the iris while doubling as the speaker's grill cloth. It's such an innovative and purposeful design, making more expensive projectors look outdated by comparison.

Also: The most charming projector I've tested has now replaced my TV for movie nights

How many times can the sliding cover stay motorized? Xgimi tells me the "current test is 5,000 times" and the Horizon Ultra should stay functional for "around 10 years of use." As is often the case with moving parts, longevity and after-sales support are things you should consider when buying this projector.

As for the rest of the design, I'm a fan of the color-matching power cables, brushed aluminum remote controller, and wealth of ports on the backside, which includes two USB-A ports, two HDMI ports (one with eARC), optical input, and an Ethernet port. 

Xgimi Horizon Ultra Projector Remote

It's one of the more premium remotes I've used, and I'm not mad about the lack of streaming service buttons.

Kerry Wan/ZDNET

The only thing that's missing on this projector for me is onboard controls. Too often have I tried setting up a new projector only to discover that the remote controller can't pair properly (or hold a charge), and there are no built-in controls for backup.

Also: The best projector screens of 2024

Once the Android 11 setup process was complete, and what Xgimi calls Dual Light Technology was, well, lighting up the space, I was met with a satisfyingly accurate projection; accurate in the sense that the visual didn't look distorted, off-centered, and discolored, all three of which is common across cheaper (or just bad) projectors.

Xgimi Horizon Ultra Projector
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

For once, I didn't find myself needing to manually adjust the keystone and sharpness of a projector, though the default image did appear more vibrant than my eyes could comfortably process. With movies like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which can be visual overload every frame of the way, a little less saturation went a long way for me. 

While you're in the settings, I'd suggest turning off any motion smoothening or deblur effect. The real-time processing often weakens the image quality instead of making things better.

Also: The first smart speaker to combine Alexa and Google interchangeably is here

That's about all the negatives I have with the Horizon Ultra's projection quality. Everything else about it is as good as things get. From the Dolby Vision-certified color accuracy -- something that projectors often struggle to qualify for due to the imbalance of color reproduction, clarity, and brightness -- to the impressively bright output that's capable of beating daylight, this is one of the few, if not the only, projectors that I've felt confident enough to use every hour of the day.

ZDNET's buying advice

If you're in the market for a projector, whether it's for your living room, backyard, or bedroom like me, I wouldn't think twice about Xgimi's Horizon Ultra. It's that good, even if it's only available in one configuration: Misty Gold for $1,699 (or $1,499 at the time of writing).

Should you buy one if you're looking for a portable projector that doesn't have to be tethered and/or can be lugged around in a backpack? Definitely not. If, however, you want an at-home entertainment hub that can transform your wall into a window of cinema goodness, look no further than this.

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