Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The big white wall in my apartment recently received an Android TV update

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Forcibly uprooting your entire life isn’t easy, just ask me about it. One day you have all the small luxuries of life that you’ve worked hard to get, the next you’re in a strange apartment you don’t own, that you have to momentarily share with others, and you’re wondering how come you’re starting from zero in your mid-thirties. There’s also only one TV to share with people whose entertainment taste differs so much from yours. Then you look at the lifeless white walls surrounding you and you think, “huh, I have an idea.” So you go get that Android TV projector, turn it on, point it at a white wall away from your roommates, and you’ve suddenly got a solution to both of your problems: no more white wall and a TV you can call your own.

Back in Lebanon, my husband and I had a 55″ TV in the living room, but we’d (read: I’d) decided not to put a TV into the bedroom. However, there were still those rare days when I was so tired but still wanted to catch a quick show or video before sleeping, so we’d bring in the XGIMI Mogo projector and point it at the ceiling. It was so cool and it only happened about once a month, so I was fine with that compromise. We had a TV solution without having a permanently mounted TV in the bedroom.

That’s my current situation and the projector in question is the latest addition to the XGIMI line-up: the 1080p and 800 ANSI Lumens Elfin. It doesn’t have a battery like the Mogo and Mogo Pro that I reviewed earlier, but it’s significantly brighter.

Here in France, in a shared apartment, the situation is quite different. We don’t have the luxury to buy or mount a TV just yet, but we’d still like to catch our favorite series or sports games without forcing our roommates to watch the same thing. Enter the Elfin. It is much better suited for longer and more frequent uses, and is quite brighter than the Mogo line-up. Plug it in, point it at the wall or ceiling, and we have our own large-screen TV. Better yet, it’s a TV we can carry in a bag once we find our own place, instead of having to lug around a huge 50″+ set.

In each of these, the XGIMI Mogo Pro (300 ANSI) is on the left and the Elfin (800 ANSI) on the right. The images show some difference in brightness, but it’s much more pronounced in reality.

The Elfin’s brightness is fine in broad daylight, and more than excellent at night, even when you step back and throw a 150″ image from more than 4-5 meters away. The sound is loud enough to fill anything from a bedroom to a large living room. Sure, it’s not the same thing as a dedicated soundbar or system, but it’s on par with standalone TV sets. And it has 16GB of internal storage, double the silly 8GB Google has put in its Chromecast, so I don’t have to keep uninstalling unused apps.

The inclusion of Android TV out of the box is still my favorite feature of XGIMI’s projectors. I can install the streaming apps I use all the time — Plex, YouTube, Prime Video, Apple TV+, RMC Sport, SFR Play — and watch everything I’d watch on my regular TV and my Chromecast with Google TV. Unfortunately, Netflix is still not supported (not even if cast from a phone), but there are workarounds to get it working through Kodi. I don’t use that streaming service, so it doesn’t matter at all for me, but if you do, you might want to research this before committing to Xgimi’s projectors.

The Elfin also acts like a video and audio Chromecast target, so you can send anything from your phone or other devices to it and display it on a huge “screen.” Plus, you get Assistant and Google Home integration, meaning you can assign it to a room, control its ambient mode, play music on it, and control it with the new Android TV remote.

For my use, this means I don’t have to worry about anything besides turning on the projector. The media source and the output are all contained within a single device and there’s no need for more cables or plugs. But there’s still USB and HDMI input as well as a 3.5mm output to take this setup to the next level. My least favorite feature of XGIMI’s projectors remains their DC power adapter. It’s bulky, inconvenient, and archaic. When USB-C PD can easily output 100W, there’s no need for a huge standalone charger and cable to carry around. The company should really get in with the times and switch to it at this point, because if we’re paying several hundreds of dollars for a projector, we want the latest, greatest, and most convenient tech.

I discovered there are USB-C to DC cables that support enough wattage to power laptops, projectors, and similar devices. I did some reading, checked feedback from other users, and eventually decided to try this one (this is the correct plug size). I’m happy to report that it works on the Elfin as well as the Mogo Pro projectors, as long as you have a USB-C PD charger that can supply around 60W of power out of a single port. I’ve been using the cable for a few months without an issue, but I recommend you do your own research too and see if you’re happy with that solution. After trying a few of XGIMI’s projectors, I’m really sold on the idea of owning a portable Android TV device that I can carry and use anywhere, whether I’m moving to a new country, new apartment, or just to a new room in my home. I don’t think it will ever replace a proper TV set, but it’s a great complementary option to have for the bedroom, kitchen, and/or patio. Perhaps the biggest question, though, is whether to go with a fully portable unit or with something that requires constant power but can be moved around relatively easily. For the former, XGIMI’s Mogo Pro ($500) and Halo ($800) are great, for the latter, the Elfin ($650) is a good starter option. If you’re looking for even more power and brightness, the more expensive Horizon 4K ($1700) series takes it up quite a notch with 2200 ANSI Lumens.

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  • The big white wall in my apartment recently received an Android TV update
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