The best portable projector I’ve ever used

There is something magical about turning a wall into a movie screen. A minute is just a blank sheet of drywall; next, a 100-inch cinema showing the new Batman movie. (There’s always a new Batman movie, right?) Even better is when you can move this magic outside into your driveway or backyard. But there must be a lot of equipment involved, right? Not necessarily: The Xgimi Elfin mini projector packs everything you need into a flat, compact package. It’s my favorite “instant home theater” projector to date, mostly because it’s the easiest to use. And while it normally sells for $649, right now you can get Xgimi Elfin for just $479.

Lowest price ever!

XGIMI

Xgimi Elfin Mini Projector 1080p

$479$649Save $170

Compact enough to fit on the arm of your sofa, Xgimi Elfin still projects a crisp, bright image onto your wall. And it comes with Android already built-in; all that is missing is Netflix.

$479 on Amazon

Features and performance of Xgimi Elfin

Weighing just over two pounds, the Elfin measures just 7.5 inches square and 1.8 inches tall. She could easily slip into a suitcase or briefcase for travel. However, unlike some mini projectors, this one doesn’t have a battery. You will need AC power for it to work.

Assuming you leave it plugged in after the initial setup, the Elfin resumes from standby in about five seconds, which is great. Many projectors I’ve tested take anywhere from 30 seconds to a full minute to boot up.

White mini projector

“Elf”, really! This mini projector is less than two inches tall, yet delivers crisp 1080p video and comes with Android 10.0 built-in. (Photo: Xgimi)

While 1080p resolution is a far cry from 4K, a native 4K projector would cost you significantly more. (Xgimi’s Horizon Pro, for example, costs $1,699.) So while you won’t get the pin-sharp resolution offered by, say, your living room TV, I found the Elfin’s image quality overall to be quite good: sharp, colorful and certainly enough for family movie nights.

As for brightness, 800 ANSI lumens is way above average for a mini projector. (Look at the cheaper models and you’ll likely see 200 to 400 ANSI lumens, which, incidentally, is the only measurement that matters. Any manufacturer can claim “8,000 lumens!”, but that doesn’t make sense. It’s the ANSI extension desired rating.) Even so, you probably won’t be happy looking in broad daylight, which results in a fairly washed-out wall. But in a room lit by a lamp, the elfin does very well and absolutely crushes him when he is dark. He also works very silently.

I was also extremely impressed with the projector’s auto focus, keystone distortion, sizing, and obstacle avoidance capabilities. Simply put: Point it at the wall and it will produce a perfectly rectangular, sharply focused image with little to no manual adjustments required. And if there’s, say, a piece of wall art invading the projection, it’ll shift the image accordingly.

Person putting a white mini projector into a bag

Yes, this projector is slim enough to slip into a bag. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a battery, so you’ll need to bring the power cord as well. (Photo: Xgimi)

In my tests, I placed the Elfin on the arm of my couch, below and to the left of my wall-mounted screen. Within seconds, the distorted, oversized image magically scaled to fit the screen – a beauty to behold. The correct positioning of the projector can be a huge problems; the Elfin makes it easy. (That said, there is a standard threaded tripod mount on the bottom, just in case the arm of your sofa is not the ideal place.)

There is another feature that I absolutely adore, and that is the built-in Android 10.0 operating system. Right out of the box, you can stream almost any popular app: Hulu, Disney Plus, Prime Video, and so on. And if you’re already an Android user, the interface looks very familiar (right down to Google’s voice assistant accessible via the remote).

Problems and limitations of Xgimi Elfin

Unfortunately, I said “almost”, because one important app is missing: Netflix. In fact, it doesn’t lack; it’s installed, and you can go as far as logging into your account and choosing something to watch, only to be greeted with an aggravating “account not supported” message. This is due to a long-standing licensing issue, and while Android supports “casting” from various devices, you can’t use, say, your phone or tablet to bridge the Netflix gap.

Rather, the only way to get Netflix is ​​to plug in a streaming device like a Roku, Fire TV or game console, which you Power do, at least, thanks to the available HDMI input. I hooked up a Google Chromecast (currently $30 at Best Buy) and was then able to stream Netflix through my phone. That’s a pain, no doubt, but at least the fix is ​​inexpensive, and the Chromecast was able to draw power from the projector’s USB port, without the need for extra cables or AC outlets.

Two people are watching a large screen TV with a white mini projector underneath

The Elfin (shown above as an optional mount) runs the Android operating system, which is great, except Netflix isn’t supported. (Photo: Xgimi)

Elfin audio is mixed: The projector squeezes a lot from its dual 3-watt Harman Kardon speakers, which can get quite loud. But they’re physically small, with little bass to speak of, so the sound seems pretty ‘small’ too. Thankfully, you have the option to connect an external speaker via Bluetooth, headphone jack, or the aforementioned HDMI (ARC) port.

My only other hardware gripe is with the remote, which isn’t backlit and therefore difficult to use in a dark room, at least until you memorize the button layout. It’s intuitive enough, but I’d gladly pay the extra bucks for a backlit remote.

Xgimi Elfin Mini Projector: Should You Buy It?

I really, really like the Elfin. It’s significantly brighter than similar projectors in the same price range (such as the Anker Nebula Solar and Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact) and is super easy to use thanks to automatic image adjustment and built-in Android. However, it lacks a battery, so it’s not as portable as the Solar, and it can’t play Netflix like the Mi.

If these two shortcomings are not a deal breaker for you, I can wholeheartedly recommend Xgimi Elfin. It comes very close to the perfection of a portable projector and is reasonably priced. All you need is a wall and you’re in for some theater-style movie nights.

XGIMI

Xgimi Elfin Mini Projector 1080p

$479$649Save $170

Compact enough to fit on the arm of your sofa, Xgimi Elfin still projects a crisp, bright image onto your wall. And it comes with Android already built-in; all that is missing is Netflix.

$479 on Amazon

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