Having a home projector is an easy way to achieve a very large screen for much less than the equivalent TV would cost. To get real TV quality you need to pay more for one of the best projectors but if it’s just size you’re after, you can achieve a 100-inch display for just a few hundred dollars or pounds.
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 is a budget projector, but it offers a range of extra functions that make it stand out among the usual array of affordable options. Rather than just being a means of projecting the content from your laptop, cable box or phone, the Xiaomi is an all-in-one solution.
Not only does it include an in-built speaker, but it also comes with Android TV built in. This means that to watch a wide range of content, it’s the only device you need. While this a new release, it only seems to offer a slight upgrade to the remote from the original Mi Smart Compact Projector that went on sale in March 2020 in the US. There’s now a dedicated Netflix button, a live TV button (which accesses live channels from your apps) and the newer Android assistant branding.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 review: Price and availability
The Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 is due to launch in October 2021 in the US, UK and Australia priced £549 ($750/AU$1035). However, at the time of writing I could only find the original Smart Compact Projector for sale, which is priced $499 in the US and not available in Europe or Australia.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 review: Design
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 is indeed compact. Measuring 115x150x150mm (4.5x5.9x5.9in) it’s only a little bigger than a larger smart speaker or router. It also weighs just 1.3kg (2.8lbs) making it easy to move around.
With a white casing and a gray material front it does look a lot like a small speaker. The large lens is mounted in the top right of the gray grill while a small sensor area is visible at the bottom. There’s also a thread mount on the bottom to put the projector onto a stand.
At the back there is a power socket, an HDMI 2.0, USB 2.0 and a headphones port. The HDMI will support 4K signals but will only display in 1080P. There is also Bluetooth 5 and WiFi connections.
The only button is a power button on the top of the device. The rest is controlled via the small remote. The black remote includes a multi-direction wheel, volume control, the quick buttons for Netflix and live TV and a dedicated Google Assistant button. The remote works by Bluetooth rather than infrared, which is handy when the projector is behind you. The only real downside of the remote is that it can be difficult to find the low-profile buttons when watching the projector in a dark room.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 review: Features
The Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and can produce up to a 120-inch display, with a 1.2:1 throw ratio. That means the projector would need to be 100 inches (2.54m) from the wall. For smaller rooms or smaller wall space, you can achieve a 60-inch display from a distance of 50 inches (127cm).
To make the set up easy, it features auto keystone correction and focusing. When the projector is first turned on, it checks the focus and screen angle – you can also set these manually in the settings menu. The keystone correction means that, even if your projector is not completely at right angles with your wall or screen, you can adjust it to produce a square image. This definitely helps with finding a place to sit the projector.
The system runs on Android TV 9 which means that once you sign in with your Google account and connect the device to your home Wi-Fi, you can download a wide range of TV and Audio apps on top of the included Netflix and Google options. If you have a live TV app, such as Sling or Hulu Live, you can set it up in the live channels option, which combines all of your available channels into a single program guide.
You can plug in external devices via the HDMI or USB port to take over the screen, though those inputs need to be selected in the menu. To make changes to the picture or sound settings you must return to the main Android TV screen first.
The projector also has a built-in speaker which supports Dolby Audio and delivers dual channel sound. This is much more powerful than any laptop speaker and works well in a small room. If you want bigger sound, you can plug in to the headphone socket – or just plug headphones in. There’s no output for surround sound but if you are inputting content from a laptop or streaming device, you could plug any external speakers into that directly. That’s not the focus here though – this device is about doing it all.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 review: Performance
The picture from the Xiaomi projector is sharp and offers natural looking colors. The overall appearance can look a little flat, especially if you’re used to a 4K LED screen. It lacks the deep blacks and the shadow detail you come to expect from modern flat screen TVs but it’s certainly passable for most TV shows and films.
The biggest restriction of this projector is its brightness. At just 500 lumens it doesn’t cope well in brighter rooms, especially if you want a larger display. Keeping the screen size to below 63 inches allowed for a bright enough image in a lit room but any larger and you need almost total darkness.
This isn’t a massive problem if you are planning to use it for late night screenings, but you would struggle to use it at any size during the day, unless you have heavy blinds. I set up the projector in the bedroom, where I don’t normally have a TV and found it a great way to watch shows at night.
While the speaker is certainly loud enough, it also lacks a bit of depth. There’s not a lot of bass produced by the on-board speakers, which is most noticeable when playing music. You do get a little more by placing it on a table than on a stand but don’t expect soundbar-quality here.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 review: Verdict
If you’re looking for a projector to watch the occasional late-night film without blowing thousands, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 is a solid option. For the money, it offers a great set of features and having Android TV built-in is a huge plus for those looking to use this for TV shows and films.
This won’t replace your TV but it does allow you to watch with a super large projection just about anywhere you have a blank wall. The size and ease of use means that you can place it anywhere and when not in use it doesn’t take up too much space. For me it’s the perfect affordable projector for a bedroom or spare room.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Compact Projector 2 review: Also consider
For around the same price, the Epson EpiqVision is another smart streaming projector offering, with Android TV built in. While the device is a little larger and not as nice to look at as the Xiaomi, it does offer a second HDMI port with ARC connection to send your audio back to separate speakers. It also offers a brighter 1,000 ANSI Lumens projection, making it more suited to daytime use.
Another option is the Xiaomi Smart Projector 2 Pro. This is the big brother of the Smart Compact Projector 2 and offers a shorter throw ratio (1.1:1), more powerful speakers, a second HDMI with ARC and 1,300 ANSI Lumens of brightness.
If you want to step up to a 4K model, consider Samsung’s The Premier Projector, which offers an ultra-short throw to create either a 120 or 130-inch screen, just inches from the projector. It also has Samsung’s Smart TV built in, giving you access to all the main streaming apps.