Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
- Long-life LED light engine
- Full HD 1080p resolution
- Android TV streaming platform
- Harman Kardon speaker system
- Effective auto-focus
- No Netflix app
- Slow to start
It's pricey compared to many portable projectors, but XGIMI's Halo delivers with its combination of unusually high brightness, 1080p resolution, effective Android TV streaming, and integrated WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities.
In a world increasing crowded with LED pico-projectors, XGIMI's Halo stands out by putting a Full HD image onto a screen (or kitchen wall) at a brightness that few can match while delivering Android TV and the one-two wireless punch of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
It might never match the quality of a traditional projector but that's beside the point because the Halo makes up for it by being incredibly portable and including a technologically advanced autofocus lens. Furthermore, it never needs a new lamp. In addition to providing access to a variety of entertainment and educational apps, the Halo can run on battery power for the equivalent of several sitcoms or a long movie.
Don't let its rated 600 to 800 ANSI lumens of brightness scare you: the Halo still puts out more light than most pico-projectors and works well on all but the sunniest days with the blinds up. In other words, few pico-projectors put it all together in such an appealing, graceful and useable package as the Halo does. So, whether it's watching the game in the den, a movie in the backyard or the latest Vimeo dance clips in the basement, the XGIMI Halo delivers. Does it live up to its $800 price? Read on to find out.
Built around red, blue and green LEDs, the Halo doesn't need a color wheel to illuminate the projector's imaging panel. The light beams are bounced off a 0.33-inch Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging chip, through its output lens and onto the screen. With lighting components rated to last 30,000 hours, the projector will never need a new lamp and doesn't have a dust filter, making the Halo ultra-reliable and cheap to use.
Like so many pico-projectors, it lacks an optical zoom lens. The 16:9 output has full HD resolution of 1920x1080, rather than the 1280x800 or 1280x720 (720p) resolution found on many other high-def portables. It also works with 4K HDR input signals but converts the material to its native resolution.
Using its wall power adapter, the Halo put 642 ANSI lumens onto the screen in its brightest mode in our tests, falling within its 600 to 800 lumen specification. Shaped like a rectangular tower, the 4.5 x 4.7 x 6.8-inch projector easily fits into a backpack. However, it comes without a handle, travel pouch or lens cap that you might find with other portables. A travel bag that protects the projector and accessories is available at the XGIMI Store or Amazon for $40, however. The projector's perforated aluminum sides and black plastic back have a subdued look that can blend into a bookcase or coffee table. It weighs in at 3.5 pounds, although with its bulky AC adapter, that rises to 4.3 pounds.
The Halo has an adequate assortment of connections with an HDMI input, USB Type A port and a headphone jack that can be used to drive external speakers. It lacks an SD card slot, a feature that's common among late generation pico projectors, but its USB port can show videos and images or play audio files.
While the projector has Wi-Fi built in, the Halo uses the older 802.11 a/b/g/n spec rather than the faster and more secure 802.11ac or ax versions. It uses Bluetooth to connect the projector to its slim remote control but also allows the Halo to operate as a wireless speaker; its pair of Harman Kardon speakers are rated at 5 watts each and able to fill a 10- by 20-foot room with surprisingly good sound.
There are no special adapters to connect up a phone or tablet, but the Halo doesn't need one thanks to a full Android 9 computer built in along with Android TV software that's powered by a 1.9GHz quad-core processor, a Mali graphics accelerator and 2GB of RAM. It has 16GB of storage, 9GB are available to use.
On top of using its built-in Chromecast abilities to wirelessly mirror from compatible computers and mobile devices, the Halo's Android computer has access to more than 5,000 apps from the Google Play store that range from education and entertainment to business and sports. It, however, lacks apps for Netflix and viewing my local TV stations on Cablevision. I used Amazon Prime Video, BBC America, YouTube, Kanopy, Curiosity Stream, Hulu, MLB.TV and others without a problem.
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The Halo's missing link, oddly enough, is the lack of a pre-loaded Web browser. The popular Chrome and Opera browsers are off limits but the Puffin TV Browser worked fine. Puffin TV added a pointer to the screen that's controlled by the remote control for selecting and opening sites.
Still, it was awkward, slow and an invitation for typos to use the Halo's on-screen keyboard and remote control to enter Web site address, names and passwords. The projector, unfortunately, didn't work with any of the wired and wireless keyboards I tried; XGIMI says the Halo only supports keyboards and mouses that don't require any kind of driver installation. What did work was an Air Flying Mouse mini keyboard remote control, which opened the world of Android TV for me. Something like it should ideally be included with the Halo or available as an option.
The Android TV Remote app worked even better. I loaded it on my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 phone, connected with the projector's Bluetooth and had full control. The app allowed me to navigate within Android TV and enter data with the thumb keyboard on the phone's screen.
The Halo tower projector has a single threaded attachment point underneath and can be used on a tripod or upside-down with an appropriate ceiling mount. No mini-tripod is included, but I used it on a shelf and tabletop with a Joby GorillaPod.
Like so many pico-projectors, there's no way to level the Halo with adjustable feet or other means. I had to resort to using business cards on one side of the projector. It does have a flip out front foot that gives it a 9 degree tilt.
Able to deliver a 44-inch image from 46-inches away, or an 80-inch image from 7 feet, the Halo tops out at a 25-foot image, according to XGIMI. It's really suitable only to about 8 or 9-feet, which is actually quite good for such a small projector. You can check out the image size for different distances at ProjectorCentral's XGIMI Halo throw calculator.The Halo doesn't include image shifting but can eliminate vertical keystone image distortion for up to a 40-degree angle; it, however, lowers brightness by 8.6 percent at 15 degrees. There's an easier way because the projector allowed me to pull in any of the image's four corners, producing as close to a perfect rectangular image as possible.
Other than volume and pause/play buttons on top, there's no local control panel. Everything is done with the projector's Bluetooth remote control that uses a pair of AAA batteries (not included) and had a surprisingly long 50-foot range. It worked well for two weeks of daily use but about halfway through, the remote lost contact with the projector. I was able to reconnect it only after clearing other paired Bluetooth devices.
The remote has buttons for turning the projector on and off, opening the Menu, changing the input, adjusting the volume or focusing the image. If you like, you can use Google Assistant to speak commands directly into the remote control, like "mute" or "turn up the volume," but I found its response to commands like "pause" or "play" a bit spotty. Should you need it, a replacement remote costs $42.
The Halo's on-screen menu is simple and lets you turn the projector's 3D imaging on and off; it's compatible with DLP-Link glasses. The Image Settings include Bright, Standard, Soft, Office and Game, although the final setting only works with an HDMI source, not Android apps. There's also a customized setting for making the projector your own with adjustments for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, noise reduction and color temperature. It lacks individual color level controls.
When I selected the All Settings category at the bottom of the menu, I was able to dig deeper and change the Wi-Fi network and move to a different Google account. There are controls for Brightness, Keystone Correction and the projector's orientation. The Projector Settings has three lighting power modes: Office, Video and Energy Saving as well as a customized setting.
Inside, Halo has a 59.5 watt-hour lithium ion battery; you can check its charge with a four-segment battery gauge on the home page. By default, the projector's brightness is decreased by 20 percent on battery power, but if you cut brightness in half to 320 lumens, the battery will run for 3 hours and 28 minutes of playing time. It used 29 watts to charge the battery but the Halo can't charge a phone from its USB port.
In this age of instant projection gratification, the Halo is a slow poke. It took 49.5 seconds to put an image on the screen. That's because of its three step start-up routine: first, the projector lights its LEDs, followed by starting up the Android computer and then activating the autofocus routine. The motorized lens is said to use sensor readings from 10,000 on-screen locations to adjust its focus in a few seconds. It worked very well. It's almost worth the wait just to see the lens defocus and then tighten the image.
On the other hand, if you like doing things yourself, flick the switch at the bottom of the remote control and use the volume keys to manually focus the lens. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not improve on the autofocus.
It took 15 seconds for the Halo to shut itself down after being turned off, but there's a twist. If you press the on/off button for a few seconds, a pull-out menu appears for quickly turning the projector off, restarting it or turning the display off.
By combining the image setting's Standard picture mode with the Office power mode, the Halo delivered a peak output of 642 ANSI lumens with an excellent uniformity of 94 percent. This worked well with a 60-inch screen but the image was overwhelmingly green, making skin tones and natural images look spooky and distorted. It was fine for showing graphs or Excel spreadsheets at an impromptu office meeting or at-home school session but didn't cut it for movies or TV.
Changing to the Standard (image setting) and Video (power setting) modes reduced the brightness to 498 lumens and made the imaging much more palatable. It was good for watching Armstrong on Curiosity Stream and catching the latest Resident Alien episode on the Syfy app. The Energy Saving mode lowers the output to a maximum of 130 lumens, below what a good flashlight delivers; no surprise, everything looked dull and washed out.
With the objective testing done, I sat back, started up the CNN app to catch the latest headlines, followed by the Red Sox-Orioles game on MLB.TV. In Standard and Video modes, the grass, dirt and even Fenway Park's Green Monster looked great. On the other hand, the sky was somewhat washed out and the orange lettering on the Orioles' jersey looked closer to red.
Later, I fired up 2001: A Space Odyssey on disc, where the opening "Dawn of Man" sequence showed smooth motion, surprisingly good color balance and just the right amount of richness in the sunset. The monkey faces, though, were too dark to make out any expression, but there was just enough detail in the shadows of the cave scene.
The Halo consumed a maximum of 70 watts of power at full blast and 0.5 watts while idle. This adds up to an annual electrical bill of about $15 if it's used for 8 hours a day for 200 days a year and you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt hour of power. While running, its exhaust hit a peak of 112.5 degrees Fahrenheit and put out 38.5dBA of fan noise from about 3 feet away versus 38.0dBA in Video mode and 37.8 using the Energy Saving settings. The room had a background noise level of 36.8dBA. XGIMI rates the projector at less than 30dB as measured in its sound-proof room using industry-standard measurement techniques that average sound from different directions.
In the final analysis, the XGIMI Halo is more than the sum of its parts and is a great projector for everything from sporting events to multimedia camping trips. It's small, easy to move around and can be battery powered for the length of the typical movie. Its built-in computer brings with it a variety of entertainment apps from the Android TV streaming platform-from Amazon Prime Video to Hulu. (On the downside, like some other projectors that use this platform, it's not certified for Netflix.)
The vivid 1920x1080 Full HD image takes advantage of its relatively high (for this product class) 642-lumen brightness to potentially provide crisp images at a larger size than you might get with less bright projectors or those with lower resolution. Furthermore, the Halo's innovative auto-focus is entertaining and works well, while the combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi brings it up to date. And its Harman Kardon speaker system works surprisingly well.
Of course, you'll pay more for these features. The recently reviewed AAXA P6X, at $359, costs less than half and is smaller and lighter, and it beats the Halo slightly on brightness. But it comes without any WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities, only a modest little speaker, and is less sharp with its 1280x800 resolution. BenQ's GS2 outdoor wireless smart projector, $599, has some great features (including a drop- and weather-resistant case). But it is also less bright than the Halo, has only 720p resolution, and uses the less desirable Aptoide TV streaming platform.
It is the Halo's combination of features and technology that make it a particularly effective and up-to-date all-in-one entertainment system. In that context, it sets a high bar and a new standard for comparing pico projectors.
Brightness. Using the Halo's Standard color mode and Office brightness setting, it delivered 642 ANSI lumens. Oddly, Standard color mode is 16 percent brighter than the projector's poorly named Bright mode. By using the Video brightness mode, the brightness drops by 19 percent and eliminates most of the Office mode's green overcast. Switching to the Halo's Energy Saving's mode lowers the output by 79 percent, making images look dull.
XGIMI Halo ANSI Lumens
Power. The system used 70 watts of power at the full blast Office setting. This dropped to 62.2 watts in Video and 19 watts in Energy Saving's mode. It took 29 watts to charge the projector's battery pack.
Brightness Uniformity: 94%
Fan Noise. The Halo was relatively quiet with it putting out 38.5dBA at maximum brightness as measured 36-inches from the exhaust vent. Switching to Video power mode lowered the noise to 38.0dBA while the Energy Saving mode reduced it further to 37.8dBA. The room registered a background noise level of 36.8dBA. XGIMI rates the projector at less than 30dBA using the industry-standard measurement technique in a soundproof booth, which is always lower than our real-world casual measurement.
- HDMI (with HDCP 1.4)
- Audio out (3.5mm stereo jack)
- USB 2.0 Type A
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our XGIMI Halo projector page.