Projectors for watching movies or making presentations have always had two problems — they’re relatively expensive and can be bulky. The XGIMI CC Aurora is an Apple AirPlay-compatible portable wireless projector that is about to change all of that. I had a chance to review a prototype of the XGIMI CC Aurora, and if you have any interest in a tiny projector with a big picture and great sound, I encourage you to check out the Indiegogo campaign at the link above and pre-order one at US$399.
That campaign has nearly doubled its goal, and the unit is expected to ship in January. So, what is this cool little cube? To start off with, it’s an Android-based smart projector so it’s possible to load apps onto it that extend its capabilities. Some of those apps are already installed, allowing you to watch streaming video projected on a wall or screen while listening to surprisingly good audio through the built-in JBL speaker.
XGIMI CC Aurora is designed to create up to an 180-inch image (that’s 15 FEET diagonal!), using autofocus technology to always give you the best possible picture. The projector uses DLP (Digital Light Processor) technology to run cool and project sharp 720p video (with 4K support) at a bright 350 ANSI lumens. The device uses square pixels to create much more sharp images.
Size-wise, the XGIMI CC Aurora is a petite 5.4 x 5.3 x 4.7 inch (137 x 134 x 119 mm) box that comes with a leather carrying handle (and replacements), a power supply to charge the built-in battery, and a remote. It weighs just 3.5 lbs (1.59 kg).
You simply slide down a fabric cover to turn on the projector, then use the XGIMI Assistant App on your iPhone to set up a Wi-Fi connection (either 2.4 or 5 GHz). That direct connection to your Wi-Fi network is what enables fast video streaming — I found it a joy to watch YouTube videos projected on a wall in a really big-screen format.
That app can be used in place of the remote control; one of the screens enables a “touch pad” that can be used to go through the various menus and apps on the projector.
I like the fact that the XGIMI CC Aurora has a standard tripod screw mount on the bottom, as I needed to elevate the projector to use one wall as a “screen” and I was able to place it securely on top of a camera tripod.
On the back of the projector are a power port for charging, two USB ports (perfect for playing video stored on a USB flash drive), and an HDMI port (see photo below). There’s also a headphone jack for monitoring sound. Atop the device are pressure-sensitive buttons; I never did use them, as I was playing content from my iPhone and used those controls instead.
One other good thing about having a smart device is that the firmware can be easily updated to fix any issues. I did see a few quirks in AirPlay streaming, and they were easy to work around by just “killing” an app on my iPhone and then restarting it. In some situations I noticed a slight hesitation in the video when I was playing something that was 1080p that was being downscaled to 720p; sadly, I did not have the opportunity to try any 4K video. These small issues may very well be resolved in the two months remaining before shipping.
I noticed that I could not stream DRM-protected video over AirPlay to the device. A workaround was to just watch the video on the device and then “mirror” my screen to the projector.
XGIMI made a smart move partnering with JBL on the speaker for the CC Aurora, as the sound is surprisingly crisp and loud for such a small device.
If you can wait until January to get your XGIMI CC Aurora, I think you’ll be happy you got one. At less than $400 for a tiny, well-designed device that you can literally take with you anywhere, the CC Aurora is a surprisingly powerful projector.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★