XGIMI Elfin Smart LED projector review

(Pocket-lint) – With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon spending billions on new content every year, there’s been no better time to enjoy the constant stream of new shows and movies. 

Converging paths of both our urge to go bigger, along with falling prices, means many have started to look at whether a home projector can deliver that cinema experience – without needing to put a humoungous TV in your home. 

But having a big, bulky and expensive projector for the occasional home cinema moment might not be to everyone’s liking. So, can a slimline model like the Elfin from XGIMI deliver?

Design and hardware

  • Dimensions: 192 x 194 x 48mm / Weight: 900g
  • Dual-band 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/b/ac)
  • 2x 3W Harman Kardon speakers
  • Inputs: 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB 2
  • Output: 1x 3.5mm jack
  • Bluetooth 5.0 wireless

As you can see from the above spec, the Elfin Smart LED projector is rather diddy – certainly smaller and lighter compared to what we’ve come to expect from a projector. The design is somewhat reminiscent of the Apple Mac mini – albeit made all from plastic – so it’s ideal for travelling or merely using around the house to get out for those one-off moments, rather than it always having to be installed on a shelf.

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Simple in its design, the small white box is void of any buttons, as all controls are handled via the included (and also white) remote control. The projector’s lens is covered by glass, protecting it from fingers and any chance of truly bothersome interference.

The rear of the projector is straightforward too. It features a single HDMI 2.0 socket, a USB port, and a vent for cooling. The Elfin doesn’t include an Ethernet connection for those looking for a wired experience – remember this is designed to be portable – but it does offer full Wi-Fi connectivity.

On the sound front the projector comes with two built-in Harman Kardon speakers, or the ability to connect to a Bluetooth speaker if you want a bigger sound stage and have something to pair it with. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack if you want to go with a wired connection and have a suitable output.

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The built-in speaker is enough to let you listen to what you are watching, of course, but not much more than that. It’s certainly not punchy enough to create a “cinema” experience while you watch. Our recommendation would be to add a Bluetooth Speaker or listen via Bluetooth headphones.

Software

  • Android TV 10.0 software
  • Google Play Store support
  • Built-in Google Chromecast

This Elfin projector is powered by Android TV 10, giving you access to the Google Play Store and all that the operating system offers. Once logged in with your Google credentials, you can access various streaming services natively, including Amazon Prime, Disney+, even Apple TV, all directly via the projector without having to worry about additional set-top boxes.

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That list sadly doesn’t currently include Netflix, which although is available to download isn’t supported by the device. It’s a very glaring omission given the support of other streaming services and means that if you do want to watch Netflix on the Elfin Smart LED projector then you’ll have to do so via a streaming stick such as the Fire TV Stick 4K, Roku, or an Apple TV box.

XGIMI tells us that it’s still waiting on Netflix to approve: “XGIMI’s mission is to deliver the best user experience at all times. We are actively in conversations with Netflix to integrate and run the streaming service directly and locally in our projectors, currently we recommend Netflix users to use one of the many streaming media players for a better experience.” Here’s hoping that gets resolved soon. 

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Netflix omissions aside, one of the more intelligent features of this Elfin is the ease by which you can turn it on and get watching straight away – something that’s clearly aimed at those who wish to setup this projector quickly in different places on a constant basis.

Designed to be used around the house, the Smart LED projector features the company’s auto keystone correction and autofocus technology. This is the same system as found on the company’s bigger and more capable 4K projectors (like the Horizon 4K projector) and quickly and easily ensures the picture is in focus and ‘squared’.

More interestingly, though, it will then automatically find you an optimal screen size to avoid obstacles on your wall – such as like light switches or picture frames – which is a clever feature that works quickly – unless you override it.

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It means that within seconds of turning the projector on you’ll be up and running to watching your favourite shows. There’s no spending the first 10 minutes trying to see whether you’ve got the focus right – that’s great given the portability factor of this device. 

Watching TV and movies

  • Non-replaceable lamp rated for 30,000 hours (10 years at 8h per day)
  • 600-800 Lumens maximum brightness
  • High dynamic range: HDR10+
  • Resolution: 1080p (Full HD)

The Elfin projector delivers up to 800 lumens brightness and can output Full HD resolution up to a screen size of 200-inches. Clearly this should create a more-than-big-enough picture for most – although you will need quite some distance between you and the wall, at 3.2-metres to achieve that top-end scale.

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That 800 lumens is certainly bright for this class of device, but it will struggle in brighter lighting conditions, while bigger picture scales inherently won’t be as bright either due to the distance effect. Not to the point that it’s unwatchable in a well-lit room, but the projector’s just not bright enough or powerful enough to watch something in full daytime conditions.

Likewise the Elfin does sometimes struggle with dark scenes in movies or TV shows. We think it works hard to do the best it can, which isn’t to be sniffed at given the asking price. Motion is clean and colours closely match what you would expect.

The picture quality is great – although not 4K Ultra-HD, just to push that point – while the addition of HDR10+ high dynamic range certainly makes a positive difference to the colour reproduction – the picture is very washed out if you turn it off – and all this is achieved with very little audible noise from the projector itself.

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There are a number of image mode settings to help you fine-tune things, going some way to allowing you to customise the experience – but we actually found the projector worked best when we opted for the default settings rather than trying to dig too deep.

Verdict

While the Elfin isn’t an all-singing and all-dancing projector that you might opt to use for a dedicated cinema room – wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those? – it is perfect for making a movie night in your bedroom, garden (if it’s dark enough), living room when you want something more exciting than just your TV, or perhaps an Airbnb break away.

There are limitations, however, which are mostly understandable given the asking price. Those wanting to maximise the picture quality will struggle in smaller rooms, while the lack of in-built Netflix support is a shame (but might be updated in the future).

On the whole the Elfin LED smart projector delivers an enjoyable experience. It’s genuinely that small and light that you could pop it into a rucksack – just don’t forget to add a Bluetooth speaker to enhance your “spur of the moment” cinema urges!

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on .

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