Increasingly acclaimed projector brand XGIMI has taken the wraps off a new model that it claims delivers not one but two new technology firsts for the home projection market.
For starters, the new XGIMI Horizon Ultra supports playback of the Dolby Vision high dynamic range system. This much sought-after feature enables the Horizon Ultra to receive extra scene by scene image data from Dolby Vision-capable sources, so that it can deliver more dynamic and accurate pictures. While Dolby Vision support is quite common on televisions, difficulties with getting it to work well with projectors – which typically struggle to deliver enough brightness and local light control to handle HDR effectively – have meant that it’s been practically non-existent in the projector world. In fact, before the Horizon Ultra it has been literally non-existent in the world of relatively serious home cinema projectors.
The Horizon Ultra’s implementation of Dolby Vision even includes the facility to tell the projector both the size and gain level of the screen you’re using, so that the Dolby Vision algorithms can deliver the most effective results.
The Horizon Ultra’s other more technical innovation finds it being the first projector to combine laser and LED lighting systems in a single projector. A unique combination that XGIMI calls Dual Light, and which is claimed to deliver the advantages of both those different lighting systems while avoiding the disadvantages.
Examples given of what this bold claim means in performance terms include higher brightness than you could expect from a regular LED projector (XGIMI quotes up to 2,300 Lumens) without the shimmering or image ‘hot spots’ you can get with laser projectors; no colour convergence errors; and a generally more relaxing, consistently natural and therefore immersive image than you might get with just one of these projector lighting technologies by itself.
The 2,300 lumens of claimed peak brightness represents a massive 77% increase over the brightness of the Ultra’s Horizon Pro predecessor, while it also ups the colour coverage to a claimed 95.5% of the DCI-P3 colour system used in commercial digital cinemas, and 99.9% of the standard dynamic range Rec 709 colour system.
XGIMI is keen to point out, too, that a colour accuracy calibration platform it’s developed specifically for the Horizon Ultra has been confirmed as being capable of delivering extremely high levels of colour accuracy by certification from two independent testing laboratories.
Laser and LED lighting systems are also both known for providing much longer effective lifespans than regular UHP projection lamps, so it’s no surprise to find XGIMI claiming a hefty 25,000 hours of maintenance-free life for the Horizon Ultra’s Dual Light system.
One rather odd sounding further innovation claimed by the Horizon Ultra is a smart environment adaptation system that can adjust the image in response to ambient light conditions. This system is claimed to be intelligent enough to compensate for everything from different types of lighting to wall and curtain colours via a combination of clever processing and hardware elements that include a dynamic iris and a dynamic colour adjustment module.
Why does this feature sound odd? Because the idea of having an ideally dark-room technology like a projector adjusting its performance to suit ambient light conditions makes me wonder if such a technology might end up making images look too dull in a very dark room environment. Though at the same time, I guess introducing a room adaptive picture system suggests that XGIMI believes the Horizon Ultra capable of adapting itself to both dark and light room conditions better than projectors typically do. The environment adaptive system can also be turned off, I should add, if you don’t like what it’s doing.
If you’re into gaming as well as movies, you should know that while the XGIMI Horizon Ultra supports 4K graphics at 60Hz refresh rates, and can render incoming image data in just 18ms or so, it’s not capable of handling the 4K/120Hz or variable refresh rate images deliverable from the PS5, Xbox Series X and latest premium PC graphics cards.
As you can tell from the photos accompanying this article, the Horizon Ultra sports a very unusual cube-like design for a projector. This is to help it accommodate both a built-in 2 x 12.5W speaker system designed with audio brand Harman Kardon, and an Android-based smart system. Connectivity, finally, includes two HDMIs (one with eARC audio output support), an optical audio input, two USBs, a headphone jack and support for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (5.2) wireless connectivity.
The XGIMI Horizon Ultra goes on sale today (August 31) for a recommended retail price of $1,699 in the US, and £1,749 in the UK.
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