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Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2: High style, low light, high price


It’s the rare projector that crosses my path with an aesthetically beautiful design. There is a lot of cool spotlightssome cute spotlights and even some that one might generously call “take care. “The Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 is as sleek as any projector I’ve seen, and would look at home surrounded by Apple devices on a Eero Saarinen table flanked by Corbusier chairs.

To like

  • Gorgeous design
  • Built-in Android TV
  • Looks like an Apple product

Do not like

  • Not bright enough
  • No battery
  • Price like an Apple product

Unfortunately, it’s relatively expensive, and the image quality and features don’t quite match the excellent design. It’s not very bright, the colors are a bit off, and its contrast is adequate at best. And unlike most truly portable projectorsit lacks a built-in battery.

For less money, the Anker Mars II Pro offers more brightness, the same contrast, and a battery that lets you watch movies anywhere. Overall, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 is a bit of a miss, but just a bit (elegant).

Specifications and others

  • Native resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • HDR-capable: Yes
  • 4K compatible: No
  • 3D compatible: No
  • Lumens Specification: 500
  • Zoom: None
  • Lens Shift: None
  • Lamp life (normal mode): Not listed

The Mi Smart Projector 2 has what I consider standard specs for a projector of this price and size. Full HD resolution (aka 1080p) is good, because many inexpensive projectors are 720p or less. Whereas it is HDR compatibilitykeep in mind that it doesn’t have the contrast ratio to do anything with high dynamic content (but to be fair, many projectors are bad at HDR).

the 500 lumen rating is common for small portable projectors. However, I measured 162, lower than most of its competitors. It is weaker than the Anker Solar, Anker Mars II Pro, and even the Samsung Freestyle, all of which are rated for nearly the same lumens. Remember that higher brightness, in addition to improving image quality, also allows a projector to create a larger image that is still decent.

As is usually the case with small projectors like this, there’s no lens shift or zoom. The only way to change the image size is to move the projector. The autofocus works fairly quickly, which is good.

Android TV, HDMI and Wi-Fi, but no battery

Projector, remote control and a drink.

Geoff Morrison/CNET

  • HDMI inputs: 1
  • USB port: 1
  • Audio output: headphone output
  • Internet: 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4GHz/5GHz
  • Remote control: not backlit

It’s always nice to see a small projector with a full size screen hdmi grab. However, you probably won’t need to use it. Like several projectors we’ve seen recently, the Smart PJ 2 has Android TV built in, so you get the full version of everything. streaming services you want. netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc. are preinstalled. Others, including HBO Maxyou can install it through the included Google Play Store.

The sound is pretty good, thanks to two 5-watt drivers. A little too much treble for my taste, but more bass than you would expect for such a small box. Like anything this size, it collapses if you crank it up too hard. This limit ends up being very strong, however, and in a small room you’ll have to raise your voice to talk about it.

The small, thin remote has a dedicated Netflix button. Unlike several of the Smart PJ 2’s competitors, however, there’s no dedicated phone app.

My biggest complaint is that this little portable projector doesn’t have a battery. Most in this size and price range do. Those that don’t, like the Samsung Freestyle, usually have the option of running through a USB-battery, but the Xiaomi can’t do that either. You’ll need to plug it into a standard power outlet via the included power adapter. It’s the same size as a large phone/tablet charger, but connects to the projector via a small round DC power connector rarely seen in small devices like this. Meanwhile, the USB connection on the Xiaomi can charge your device if the projector is plugged in, but cannot power the projector itself.

Image quality comparisons

Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2: High style, low light, high price

The Smart Projector 2 image is created using LEDs and a DLP chip.

Geoff Morrison/CNET

The Mars II Pro is as close to a head-to-head comparison as it gets. It’s almost exactly the same size and is rated for the same 500 lumens. The Anker has a lower resolution and $50 cheaper. I hooked them up to a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and viewed them side by side on a 102 inch screen at 1.0 gain.

Read more: How we test projectors

As you’d probably expect, these projectors are much closer together than not. Their contrast ratio are almost identical. However, the Anker doesn’t have any image adjustments, so there are certain aspects of the image that are better on the Xiaomi. Shadow details, for example, look much grayer and less realistic on the Anker than on the Xiaomi.

Colors are not very accurate on both projectors. Both are about equally false, and quite cold or bluish in color temperature. On a home projector I’d have a bigger problem with this, but for a small laptop it’s probably fine. Nothing feels too natural, but everything feels a little off.

The bigger details of the Xiaomi 1080p were definitely noticeable. The Anker looked a little soft when viewed side by side. This is not a deciding factor, however, as resolution is only one aspect of image quality. If you didn’t have the two next to each other, you’re unlikely to notice.

The most noticeable difference is actually brightness. The Anker looked a bit brighter than the Xiaomi. I measured around 162 lumens on the Xiaomi and 337 on the Anker. So yes, about twice as bright. It is common for manufacturers to, shall we say, fake their brightness claims. Here’s what that means in practice. And before criticizing Xiaomi for being so inferior, Samsung rated the $900 freestyle at 550 lumens and that puts 197. Morale? Do not rely on manufacturers’ lumen claims.

The Xiaomi has a mode that you think would increase the brightness, but instead it makes the image extremely green. Maybe you could look at a spotlight mode that makes everyone look like Kermit, but for me, it’s not easy to be…

Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2: High style, low light, high price


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Brightness aside, there’s no clear winner between the two in terms of image quality: the Xiaomi has better detail, the Anker better light output. If the Anker had image settings, that would likely push the needle in its favor. But then, you probably don’t buy one or the other based on image quality alone.

There is, however, a significant, perhaps crucial difference: the Anker has a battery. It can project an image anywhere, while the Xiaomi needs a plug. It’s big.

Close enough

I love Xiaomi’s design. It’s just an incredibly chic projector. If you put an Apple badge on it, no one would question it.

The problem with the Mi Smart Projector 2 is the Mars II Pro. It’s a little cheaper, brighter and it has a battery. It doesn’t look quite as sleek, but that’s a small downside when you’re talking about something smaller than a lunch box. It’s not like it’s going to dominate your living room. If the next version of the Xiaomi has a battery, or is two to three times brighter, it would be a real contender.

CNET

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