Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: This Android-based home theatre projector can connect to pretty much any device and beam a powerful 300-inch image, complete with gesture controls and support for 3D and 4K video. We take the Aurora Z4 for an in-depth test drive.
You can already buy the Z4 Aurora in Asia, but this powerful and feature-packed projector is finally coming to the west via a fresh Indiegogo effort. At the time of writing there’s still a month of funding to go, but we got the chance to play with the Z4 Aurora early and here’s our full review.
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Design
You probably wouldn’t buy a projector purely because of its looks, but the XGimi Z4 Aurora really is an attractive device. The minimalist silver design will match pretty much any decor while the funky circular top lends the appearance of a super-modern record player, which we love to bits.
The front edge of the projector is obviously where you’ll find the lens, hidden away behind a sliding panel for protection. Alongside is the harman/kardon speaker grille, which stands out thanks to its seemingly erratic design. And on the bottom of the Z4 Aurora you’ll find three padded feet, which can be unscrewed and replaced with a mini tripod (bundled in the box).
The Z4 Aurora certainly isn’t a mini projector, although it is reasonably light at 1.2kg considering the bulky dimensions. However, it isn’t designed to be carried about in a case on your business trips; the Aurora should take pride of place on a shelf at home. There are plenty of more portable projectors if you’re always on the move.
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Setup
Our Z4 Aurora review model came direct from China, but I still managed to get it set up in no time at all despite the lack of English instructions, which is a testament to how simple the process is.
All you need to do is plug in the projector and then connect the remote control by pushing down two buttons simultaneously. You can then use the remote to focus the projector and already you’re into the main menu, ready for action.
If you dive into the settings from here you can perform keystone correction and tweak the image so it suits your room. Of course, if you want to change the size of the image, you’ll simply have to move the projector closer or further away from your wall. You can also connect to a WiFi network, to get online without hooking up to an external device.
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Android OS and software
The Z4 Aurora runs a custom version of Android, with smooth performance thanks to the capable 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.
The projector comes with a small selection of apps pre-installed. These include a basic file manager, a web browser, the WPS office app and the Aptoide store, which is used to download more apps onto the projector. And you can of course log in with a Google account, which then gives you direct access to your web bookmarks and the rest.
Xgimi’s interface is easy to understand and quick to navigate with the remote control, with the ability to set up shortcuts to your favourite apps. Aptoide’s selection contains all of the standard apps you’d expect, including Facebook (oh great, now we can check out those drunken snaps our mates post in all their 300-inch glory), Instagram, YouTube, Skype, Plex, Netflix, VLC, SoundCloud and so on.
You can even download games to play directly through the projector, if you have a controller that you can hook up (although the remote will also do the job for simple games like Crossy Road).
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Remote and gesture control
When it comes to input, the remote does a good job of navigating around the Z4 Aurora’s interface. It feels quite light and plasticky, but the remote is responsive and boasts decent battery life (you can recharge with any standard micro USB cable). Best of all, a frantic shake of the remote turns it into a pointer device, so you can aim and click your way around the interface and any apps you download. This really helped out, as a few apps like YouTube didn’t seem to like the remote’s d-pad.
You can also download an Android app that works as a remote control, in case the physical one is ever misplaced. And if the thought of using a remote for input brings you out in hives, no worries; you can even connect peripherals like mice to the projector via the rear USB port (or wirelessly via Bluetooth).
One of the more pointless additions to the Z4 Aurora is the gesture control support. Essentially, you can wave your hand above the projector to perform simple tasks such as raising or lowering the volume. However, the chances of you sitting right beside the projector while you enjoy your content are rather slim, while the gesture motions don’t always work unless you get them just right. And since you can perform the same operations with a quick tap of the remote, we’d recommend doing that instead.
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Connectivity and casting
One of the Z4 Aurora’s biggest strengths is its flexible connectivity. We managed to hook up to a range of devices wirelessly, including other Android devices like the Galaxy S7 (using Miracast), and our Macbook laptops (using Apple’s Airplay). Pairing up is quick and blissfully intuitive, and the only issue we saw was the occasional stuttering over Miracast, which was likely down to some shoddy WiFi.
On the back of the Z4 Aurora you’ll also find a decent range of ports, including two HDMI inputs, plus AV and a headphone jack. There’s LAN connectivity for a more reliable high-speed connection and a USB port for attaching peripherals or USB storage.
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Video and audio performance
The Z4 Aurora’s standard resolution is 1280×800 but the projector is compatible with 1080p, Quad HD and Ultra HD 4K video, scaling where necessary. We never had any issues with movies, games or apps looking squashed or bloated. Image clarity is strong, with realistic colours and decent contrast.
Of course, when you’re kicking back with a movie, you’ll want to make sure you close the curtains to see what’s going on. The Z4 Aurora puts out a bright image that can be clearly seen with reasonable ambient light, but as soon as you try and watch a film in a room with natural daylight flooding in, you’ll be squinting to make out finer details.
The Z4 Aurora supports Active Shutter 3D glasses and our review unit came with two bundled in the box. These glasses charge via micro USB, just like the remote, and they’re light and comfortable to wear. At the time of writing we haven’t been able to test out any 3D content to see how it looks, but we’re hoping to fix this soon.
As for that harman/kardon audio, it’s impressive for a built-in speaker. You’ll easily fill a small room with sound and the audio is crisp and clear, although you’ll definitely want to hook up some proper stereo speakers for the ultimate home theatre experience.
Xgimi Z4 Aurora Projector Review: Verdict
The Z4 Aurora is a solid home theatre projector, capable of casting a massive HD image onto any flat surface. The Android OS gives you immediate access to your favourite apps and services and you can quickly connect pretty much any other device, either wirelessly or using the array of ports on the rear.
Finished off with full 3D support and the ability to play back 4K content, there’s very little else that we’d demand of a home projector at this stage. If you’re serious about setting up a mini cinema in your spare room, the Z4 Aurora is a great choice.