Review Review: Home cinema made in China – Xiaomi Mi Laser Projector for $1839

Read all about one of our favourite gadgets in our review! (And the price is also dropping 🙂 )

The Xiaomi Mi Laser Projector is not a bargain with a price of almost 1.900 USD, but you get a lot for your money. That much we can tell you: It’s a truly awesome piece of engineering. Read here to find out exactly what you get and why it’s worth buying. In the following we would like to explain to you:

  • What the short throw projector is and what it can do (resolution, brightness, etc.)
  • How to set it up and use it in English despite the Chinese language
  • What applications do you have (indoors or outdoors? Movies or gambling?)

Xiaomi short throw projector with its remote controller

Overview

Technical Specifications

Model Xiaomi Mi Laser Projector
Type DLP
Resolution Full HD (1080p)
Image Formats 16:9, 4:3
max. Screen 150 “
Brightness 5000 ANSI Lumen
Dimensions 410 × 291 × 88 mm
Weight 7 kg

Laser Projector? Short Throw LED Projector? What is this, anyway?

The term laser projector refers only to the lamp technology in the projector and replaces the usual light source with a laser module. This has a significantly lower heat emission and a longer operational life –  25,000 hours are stated. The projection takes place despite laser by the so-called DLP technology. This stands for Digital Light Processing, because the image is projected digitally onto the screen via tiny mirrors.

closeup of the Xiaomi Mi Laser projector
The projection comes from this recess on the upper side.

The projector is also a so-called short-throw projector, i.e. it can be positioned at the shortest possible distance from the screen. It is intended to be placed on a TV board, for example, where it takes on the role of television. Depending on the distance to the wall, a larger image is obtained, as with ordinary projectors. The maximum Xiaomi states is 150 inches, about 3.8 meters, which can be reached at a distance of 49 cm.

The advantage: The installation is much simpler, the projector does not have to be set up at the height of the screen and the depth of the room does not matter either. In the simplest case, the projector is placed directly in front of the wall on the floor. And you can’t walk through the picture either.

Xiaomi Mi projector manual

The distance to the size of the projection is shown in the table. The distance to the wall refers to the projector as a whole (not to the lens), as you can see in the graphic above. Schedule this, for example, if you use a TV bank on which the projector is to be placed.

Image diagonal (SD) Distance to the wall (D) Projection height (H) Image size
80” 14 cm 29 cm 177 x 100 cm
90” 19 cm 32 cm 199 x 78 cm
100” 24 cm 35 cm 221 x 126 cm
120” 34 cm 41 cm 266 x 149 cm
150” 49 cm 50 cm 332 x 187 cm

At this point it should be mentioned that a mounting under the ceiling is possible, because the picture can also be mirrored horizontally. Of course, the same distance values also apply there.

Power Consumption – How Hungry Is The Mi Projector?

The maximum power consumption during operation is 250 watts, which is significantly higher than that of televisions. Even large 60-inch monitors are usually close to 100 – 200 watts. Anyone who wants to use the projector as a full-fledged replacement for the television set will have to prepare for a higher electricity bill at the end of the year.

Of course, comparing the consumption of the projector to a 32-inch television would not be entirely fair. Compared to a 4K-capable 60-inch device, the difference is two hours of operation per day in the low, double-digit dollar range. If the projector is used only once a week for the cinema evening, it is hardly noticeable on the electricity bill at the end of the month.

Equipment and connectivity

The first thing you have to do is unpack. If you want to know how the projector is packed and shipped and how it was for Kristian (from China-Gadgets.de) to unpack it from the freshly arrived box, take a look at his unboxing video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7a7kIpAaxE

Would you like to have English subtitles on our videos?

We haven’t been disappointed by Xiaomi before, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise, when we discovered that the projector is a really nice piece of technology. The design kept in complete white corresponds to the design of most other Mi Home products, the exterior finish is impeccable.

Only drawback: Thanks to the almost mirror-smooth plastic cover, the projector is a real dust magnet, and greasy fingers also leave traces immediately. Understandably, a microfibre cloth was enclosed in the delivery.

the front of the Xiaomi Mi Laser projector

the rear of the Xiaomi Mi Laser projector

the right side of the Xiaomi Mi Laser projector

the left side of the Xiaomi Mi Laser projector

Three HDMI 2.0 ports are located on the rear end of the projector, one of them also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). There is also a USB 3.0 port and an audio output, AV input, an S/PDIF port and an Ethernet socket. An additional USB 2.0 port is located on the side of the device.

the cloverleaf power cord of the Xiaomi Mi laser projector
The EU plug right next to the Chinese version of the cable – Without the suitable cable, you’re in need of an adapter

Also on the back is the connection for the power cable. This is a cloverleaf power cord (also referred to as mickey mouse cord or IEC C5 power cord); however, the enclosed cable has a Chinese type 1 mains plug. But you need either an adapter or simply a corresponding cable with US plug. If you don’t have one of these at home anyway, you can find them for a few dollars on Amazon, for example.

all the accessories of the Xiaomi Mi laser projector
The “accessories” of the projector are limited – but that’s all it needs

Apart from the remote control, there is only a Chinese operating manual available in the delivery. This is of course of little help, even if some of the illustrations are self-explanatory, and you can also read the data sheet halfway without Chinese knowledge. But it doesn’t need any more accessories, because the projector is immediately ready for use without any installation.

By now an instruction manual was released in English. We have made it available for download here.

Hardware – Smooth and quick operation

In addition to a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor, the projector has 2 GB DDR3 RAM and 16 GB flash memory. This is sufficient for smooth operation throughout; navigation through the menus takes place without jerking, only some apps have short loading times. The projector needs approx. 20 seconds to start up, after that it is fully operational.

Hardware Specs of the Xiaomi projector
the hardware specs of the Xiaomi projector in the settings

Operation of the projector via Bluetooth remote control

The projector can be easily operated using the included remote control. This requires two AAA batteries, which are not included. The design of the remote control is as simple as the projector itself, but just as chic. The keys are limited to the most necessary and are absolutely intuitive. You navigate through the menu using the direction buttons, which are attached in a ring, and the OK button is in the middle. Home button, Back, menu and volume control – all pretty self-explanatory.

the white remote control of the Xiaomi Mi laser projector with few buttons
The remote control fits well in the hand and is also visually perfectly fitting to the projector.

Alternatively, mouse and keyboard can also be connected. This may make navigation easier for some people, even if the remote control in conjunction with the menu, which is clear in itself, already does a good job. The keyboard simplifies longer text entries. However, a mouse is required in some apps (such as Netflix) where the remote control does not work completely.

Operating system MIUI TV

Pairing the remote control and setting up an Internet connection

The remote control connects to the projector via Bluetooth. If it doesn’t work right from the start, read the instructions on how to pair it with the Laser Projector. We have translated the most important steps into English for you here.

Pairing of the Remote Control with the Xiaomi Projector
Pairing the remote control is easy if you know what you have to do.

The start in the menu is then uncomplicated, but can still be very confusing due to the Chinese language. For example, after the start you will be asked to register with a (Chinese) phone number – but you can simply skip this step. Setting up the WLAN before changing the options to English is also not quite as easy if you do not know the respective menu items. You can work around the problem by first changing the language (see below) and selecting the network via the developer options, or you follow these steps:

  • You can access the settings via the app list or by navigating up in the main menu. In both cases, the gear symbol will tell you where to go.
  • The WiFi icon shows you where to find the connection settings. It should be the first menu item directly.
  • Here you can also select the first menu item (无线网络) – The wireless networks
  • Now you see the list of available networks, select yours and connect as usual by entering the password.
Xiaomi Mi Laser Projector Settings WiFI network
This means “Wireless Network” in Chinese – Fortunately, symbols help in all other steps

Changing the language in MIUI TV to English

Like a TV box or a smart TV, the projector has its own user interface. MIUI TV is based on Android 6.0 and is completely available in Chinese. The all-clear signal is given here directly in case you only want to use the projector as a playback device. If a device (laptop or game console) is connected via HDMI, this is displayed in a picture preview directly on the projector’s home screen. A single keystroke of the remote control changes the display and you have nothing to do with the Chinese UI anymore.

MIUI TV Home Screen on the Xiaomi beamer

Chinese Game Apps on the Xiaomi beamer

If you only want to connect your Playstation or Xbox, have a receiver or a TV box for television or use a computer or laptop for streaming, then of course you don’t have to root the system, but can use the projector immediately. And apart from Google services, most streaming apps can be installed and used. Setting the language to English is a simple step that will make it easier to use later.

The whole system and most pre-installed apps are of course aimed at the Chinese market. So the language is also not easily convertible to English. If you want English language in the menus, you have to download an APK via another device. You can install them via a USB stick on the projector and then change the system language from Chinese to English.

The individual steps necessary to change the language:

  • You download the APK Dev Settings or Start Settings and copy them to a USB stick.
  • Put the stick in the projector . It should be recognized immediately; you simply select the first option with the USB icon.
  • Select the APK from the list and run it – you will receive a (Chinese) warning to allow sources of unknown origin
  • Click “OK” (the left button) and you will be taken to the options where you change the setting – it is the one that is already selected.
  • Go back and run the installation now
  • Launch the installed app, scroll down to the language settings and set the language to English – Finished

Xiaomi projector USB stick connect

Xiaomi projector APK install

Xiaomi projector language switch to English

Since the Playstore is not installed, you can also install other apps this way. If you want to watch Netflix directly on the projector and not via an external device (TV box, etc), you can also use Netflix.apk. It gets more complicated with Google services, such as YouTube or the Playstore, which do not work easily.

Netflix APP running on the Xiaomi Mi projector
Netflix is easy to install

 

Video quality – This is how cool the Xiaomi projector looks

Brightness

Officially the beamer radiates with 5000 ANSI Lumen. A technology called ALPD 3.0 (Advanced Laser Phosphor Display) from the Chinese developer Appotronics is used here. The first use was in our office, where we could only partially darken the windows with blinds. Nevertheless, even in daylight the picture was sufficiently bright and hardly limits the filming pleasure. I also took the projector home with me, and when the room is almost completely darkened, there really is a real home cinema flair.

Xiaomi Mi projector brightness Fifa 18
With darkened windows the image is bright enough…

Fifa 18 projected by the Xiaomi Mi projector in a brighter room
…with too much sunlight the brightness is no longer sufficient.


However, strong sunlight naturally has an adverse effect. In a light-flooded room, the quality decreases, and outdoor use, for example on the terrace, is unthinkable in broad daylight.

Caution: Avoid looking directly into the lens, because the light is really very bright. As a protective mechanism, the beamer has two infrared sensors that register movement in the immediate vicinity (<50 cm) and then switch off the image. Then only a (Chinese) warning message is displayed not to look into the lens. Depending on the position of the beamer, this may be triggered as soon as it passes, so this option can also be deactivated.

Contrast

The contrast is given as 3000:1, which sounds like little when compared with other devices that even have values beyond 100,000:1. However, this often says little about the actual image quality. We remember: The contrast describes the difference between the brightest and the darkest pixel, the value is measured and indicated by the manufacturer. However, manufacturers almost always use the so-called on/off measurement method, which allows contrast values in the millions.

But even little light from outside influences the black values of a projection and the contrast is subject to considerable fluctuations. The ANSI measurement method for the contrast is more accurate, even if it results in significantly(!) lower values. In any case, we have little or nothing against the contrast of the Xiaomi projector.

Xiaomi projector tuning display settings
A four- and eightfold keystone correction can be made in the settings.

Xiaomi short-throw projector contrast tuning
The MIUI-own test pattern of the beamer, via which the sharpness can be regulated.

Resolution

The maximum resolution is 1080p, i.e. Full HD. However, 4K videos can also be played back, which are naturally scaled to 1080p, but still look better than native Full HD because of the higher bit rate. At 4K a maximum of 30 Hz is possible, in Full HD 60 Hz are possible.

Even at maximum projection size, the image is pin sharp for Full HD conditions. Even small texts are easy to read, and we can hardly say more than that it just looks awesome.

Color reproduction

Even in the factory settings, the colors are pleasing on a white canvas, but it can still be readjusted if necessary. If you want to save the setting, you can also choose one of several selectable options. In the end, the background of the projection and personal perception decide what is best selected.

A rainbow effect does not occur with this laser projector.

Xiaomi short-throw projector test image
Test image on a white, rough surface

The screen – almost as important as the projector itself

The best projector doesn’t help much if you don’t have a screen on which to project the picture. One gets the beamer not least because of the size of the picture, and corresponding space is needed for the representation. Few people will be able to place a 150″ projection in their own four walls – a maximum of 120″ is probably more realistic in most cases.

As far as the surface is concerned, we must now differentiate: On the one hand, the choice of the projection screen makes a big difference, especially in terms of color rendering, which is naturally distorted by the color of the screen. If you want an almost perfect picture you can’t avoid buying a screen with the Xiaomi projector. Depending on the size, these are available for less than 100€.

Xiaomi Mi laser projector test picture of Fifa 17
Here you can already clearly see the pattern of the wallpaper on closer inspection.

On the other hand, the improvements due to the right surface and the purest white as color at the end are negligible in the eyes of most people. Under the right circumstances, some people are willing to look at a grey or yellow painted wall and still enjoy the film. White woodchip wallpaper, which is widely used, is also possible. Here, however, the resolution already suffers, because the rough surface diffuses the light differently and individual details of the high resolution are lost.

Our recommendation: If you have a white plastered (smooth) wall, which is suitable as a canvas, that is enough. If you don’t have this, you should use a screen to get the most value out of the projector.

3D Playback

You can switch to 3D playback at any time via the settings menu. These are active 3D and you need the matching DLP-Link glasses.

Sound quality

Rich sound like hardly any other projector

Four speakers (2 full-range speakers and 2 tweeters) provide the sound. This is not comparable to a full sound system, but very good for a projector. Even the bass is convincing to a certain extent, and if you don’t have the highest demands, you can absolutely get along with the integrated speakers even during the movie night. If you want more, you can connect your own sound system via the audio output of the projector.

Xiaomi short-throw projector box

An additional advantage of the short-distance projector: Since it stands directly in front of the (line) wall, the sound also comes from the front. Even with decent speakers, the sound comes from the back of an ordinary projector, which you don’t really want.

The fan is clearly audible without sound from the speakers, but is already drowned out by normal conversation volume and does not disturb when watching films or is not noticed at all after a few minutes.

Gaming on the Xiaomi projector

Fun with the Nintendo Switch and Mario Kart

A dream for every gambler – play your favorite games on the screen with a beamer. This is possible with the Xiaomi projector in any case, but projectors do not reach the frame rates of monitors. We were thinking: Don’t think long and theorize, but take the opportunity to simply have a video game evening in the office – what better way to test this function? 😉

Xiaomi projector Mario Kart 8
The bright colors look amazing on 100 inches
Xiaomi Beamer Nintento Switch Controller
Two Joy-Cons and as third controller the bluetooth gamepad from 8Bitdo

So the Nintendo Switch was connected directly on the first Friday after receiving the projector . The classic was played – Mario Kart. Resolution and frame rate are not quite as important here, and the game still makes a footsteps on an old cathode ray tube TV. Nevertheless – on the the projector it is something completely different. Where one used to be annoyed about small image sections in the split screen, here each section is simply 60 inches in size. That’s the way to play it.

At around 120 inches, the Full HD image was razor-sharp, and the bright colors come into their own. The sound is turned up and the atmosphere is perfect. At the latest, when the first blue tank steals the victory believed to be safe, there is no stopping it.

Mario Kart displayed by the Xiaomi projector
Temporary setting still with our foosball table in the way – it doesn’t matter, it’s still fun.

Fifa 17 on the Playstation

Next was the Playstation 4. It’s just as easy to connect, the console is instantly recognized and you’re ready to go. With the more realistic graphics of Fifa 17, the strengths of the beamer come into play a little more than with the comic look of Mario Kart. Here, too, there were no noticeable restrictions on the fun of the game.

Xiaomi Mi Laser projector Test Fifa 17 Menu
Looks cool, but the difference between the wallpaper and the smooth wall above is pretty apparent.

Conclusion – Awesome

The short-throw projector really convinces us all along the line. The extremely simple installation directly in front of the wall is an advantage not to be sneezed at compared to “conventional” projectors. With a weight of 7 kg, the device can even be taken along and set up with someone else. The biggest problem actually proves to be finding a correspondingly large (canvas) wall to enjoy the full 150 inches (after all 3.30 x 1.86 m!). The picture quality is absolutely appropriate even for the apparently high price and provides a cinema feeling even during the day – in darkened rooms.

  • Very good resolution even at 150 inch
  • 4K scaling looks good
  • Simple construction, placed directly in front of the screen
  • Bright projection with good contrast in dark rooms and at night
  • Good integrated speaker
  • Total high-quality workmanship
  • The quality decreases in bright daylight
  • Chinese menus; only partly adjustable in English

The only real disadvantage is the Chinese operating system, which almost requires an additional device. If you have a TV box or simply connect your computer or console, you won’t mind, but an English interface with Playstore installed would be a great upgrade.

Apart from that, the price-performance ratio is also simple compared to other sets on the market, and anyone who is already willing to spend $1,800 on a set from China will get a high-quality replacement for their domestic TV here. We give a complete purchase recommendation for this projector.

To the gadget
Profile picture from Maike

Maike

I love Gadgets destined to ease your everyday life - e.g. smart home gadgets. I own a few Xiaomi Gadgets (Xiaomi Mi A1, Xiaomi Yeelight Bedside Lamp, Xiaomi Wifi Repeater etc.), and would consider myself a fan :) 

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