Much like the Samsung Freestyle we recently reviewed, the Xgimi Elfin is a small, tech-packed projector that does its best to take the hassle out of the big screen. Here is our Xgimi Elfin review.
It can project a bright 200-inch image at 1080p and includes features like auto keystone correction and autofocus that make getting a sharp, level, and distortion-free image as easy as possible. It even has built-in speakers and voice commands through Google Assistant.
Priced at under £600, it could be the perfect smart TV alternative for apartment dwellers short on space – one you can just stick in a drawer when you’re done. So is it a dumb and boring light box or smart projector? We put it to the test to find out.
Design: minimalist magic
The Elfin is beautifully small and, well, simply gorgeous, period. A minimalist black and white square slab with no protrusions and tastefully curved corners, it weighs less than a kilo and measures less than 20cm at its longest edge. It’s compact enough to fit in a drawer, as we said earlier, but you can also stash it in your backpack and take it to a friend’s house with no problem.
Unlike the Samsung Freestyle, it can’t run on an optional battery, so you’ll have to plug it into a power outlet, but the included cable is generously long. Other than that, its wireless connectivity, built-in speakers and smart TV features mean it doesn’t necessarily need any other wires shoved into it; there are HDMI and USB inputs though, plus a 3.5mm headphone output if you prefer your sound to come from cans or bigger, beefier speakers.
A welcome design touch is the standard tripod mount at the bottom. We put it to good use, bolting it to our full-size photography tripod to quickly create the perfect adjustable projector mount.
The Elfin’s throw isn’t as short as some, but with a 1.2:1 ratio it’s still accommodating enough for those with smaller parts. Setting the projector 1.6m from the surface you’re projecting on will result in a 60-inch image, while pushing it back 3.2m will result in a 120-inch image, which Xgimi recommends as the optimal size if you’re going large. (You can get a 200-inch image if you want, but at that size the quality starts to drop noticeably.)
Features: automatic for people
Back then, installing a home projector was a daunting and difficult undertaking. You’ll need to set it to the optimum height, distance and angle, then manually focus and (if you have the option) correct keystone compensation to get a flat, undistorted image; adjusting tiny screw feet to painstakingly level the project will be a particularly raw memory for some.
Fortunately, none of that applies here. You place the Elfin loosely in the right spot, turn it on and autofocus, auto keystone correction and smart screen alignment kick in to do the rest. It will even detect objects in the image path and shift the image slightly to avoid them. It’s a very clever trick and works well in our experience, but you can also manually tweak the settings if you’re unhappy with the auto-tuning results.
The other main feature is Android TV. With built-in Wi-Fi, you can connect to your home network, sign in with your Google account, then install Smart TV apps and games. We entered a selection of video streaming services – Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Twitch and Apple TV+ – and except Netflix (which allowed us to connect and browse content, but generated a message error every time we actually tried to watch something) they all worked like a charm.
It also supports Chromecast (meaning you can easily ‘cast’ videos and photos from other devices running on the same network) and voice commands via Google Assistant. Voice control is surprisingly useful on a projector, given that you’re ideally using it in a very dark room.
Image and performance: fantastic light
Given the Elfin’s relatively price and small size, we weren’t expecting too much image quality – but it’s actually excellent for the price. The image won’t win any awards for its black levels or super punchy contrast, but it’s bright enough to use in a room with some ambient light and doesn’t suffer from any noticeable image artifacts or smearing during movement. You can also project directly onto a white or pale wall in the same way – no need for a dedicated projector screen (although your image will appear brighter and more contrasty if you use one).
We spotted a rainbow halo around brighter objects as they move, which often happens with a projector using DLP technology, but it’s not too distracting. You can tweak the picture settings to a reasonable degree (turning off distracting motion smoothing is a good start, especially if you’re watching movies) and HDR is supported in both its HLG and HDR10 forms. You can even project a 3D image, although we’re pretty sure demand for that died out about a decade ago.
The built-in stereo speaker is made by Harman/Kardon and has an output power of 2 x 3W. It might sound weak but, while it’s certainly lacking in the bass department, it’s loud and clear enough to be heard in a small room. We always recommend using another method for your audio if possible, especially if you’re gaming or having movie night, but as a backup speaker this is fine.
The Elfin is a really charming projector, mainly thanks to its ease and simplicity. Does it offer incredible image quality? Maybe not, but its image performance is absolutely brilliant for the price, and we think the fact that you can get it, working and delivering a huge image in seconds gives it a mass appeal that many lack. many “best” projectors.
It’s a shame the Netflix app didn’t work – it’s still the streaming service most people use – but we assume this is a fixable issue, and that doesn’t take away certainly not enough brilliance of the Elfin for us not to recommend it.
|Maximum display size||200g|
|Brightness||800 ANSI lumens|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB, 3.5mm stereo output|
|Dimensions||194 x 192 x 48mm|