With space becoming a premium even at home, people are becoming more conscious and smarter about how they set up their rooms, their furniture, and their home entertainment devices. Along with cutting the cord, some people have resorted to completely cutting off the large and immovable TV sets from their lives. Projectors, particularly smart projectors, have lately become the go-to solutions for those that still want the big-screen experience at home without permanently committing space for a large screen. The Mi Smart Projector 2 is Xiaomi’s newest entry in that market, and we give it a thorough test to see if it checks enough of the right boxes for its price.
This isn’t Xiaomi’s first dance with projectors, under its name or someone else’s brand, nor is it the first time the company has dabbled in Android TV devices. Over the years, it has tried to perfect the formula that smashes these two worlds together, and the Mi Smart Projector 2 is the latest fruit of those efforts. Of course, you’d be forgiven if you get a case of deja vu if you’ve seen the Mi Smart Compact Projector before, as the two are almost eerily similar. Fortunately, that’s a good thing.
The Mi Smart Projector 2 looks nondescript and unassuming without looking drab and plain. The only way it calls attention to itself is through its mostly white body, broken only by the gray fabric that makes up its face. It looks stylish enough to feel at home among other pieces of furniture and is compact enough to be easily hidden away when not in use.
Despite being compact, the projector isn’t easily one you could call portable. Yes, you can carry it around and place it anywhere, but you will have to take into account that it still needs to be plugged into an outlet to actually work. It would have been great if the power brick’s cable were long enough or if it used a more standard USB-C or even micro-USB port for that, but, alas, that isn’t the case at all.
Where you end up placing it will be critical for both video and audio output. It isn’t an ultra-short throw project, so you’ll need to allocate enough space between it and the wall or projector screen. You might also want to keep it closer to you if you plan on using its built-in speakers, as we’ll get to later.
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 employs a four-channel LED bulb with DLP technology to throw images at a distance. Along with HDR10 support and Rec.709 color gamut, the projector impresses with the range of colors it can produce and the depths of dark and light it can reach. Under the proper lighting conditions or room setup, it is almost the perfect affordable Android TV projector.
The biggest drawback, however, is that 500 lumens bulb. That’s definitely not bright enough unless you have a pitch-black room for watching videos or can at least properly regulate the light coming from nearby windows. Even then, the Mi Smart Projector 2 still struggles with darker scenes, and you’ll have to adjust some settings if you typically watch content that leans more towards that color spectrum.
The good news is that the projector isn’t too particular about where you place it. In fact, one of its biggest strengths is how it can quickly and correctly adjust its output right after you move it. Auto-keystone and auto-focus worked without a hitch, allowing you to place it almost anywhere on the fly. Of course, you’ll still have to keep in mind the 1.2:1 distance ratio that the projector requires (1.6 meters for a 60-inch display) and what surface you’re projecting on. Given its brightness issue, a projector screen that can reject ambient light might be your best bet.
The Mi Smart Projector 2 maxes out at 1080p resolution, even if it can accept 4K content via HDMI 2.0, USB 2.0, or your smartphone. That might be fine for most content you’ll be streaming from the Internet, but some will feel the lack of even 2K resolution to be a deal-breaker. You might be able to find a 2K TV at this price range, but you’ll be back to square one when it comes to space constraints and smart features.
Xiaomi put two 5W speakers inside its projector, slapped on some Dolby Atmos tech, and then called it a day. That means that the Mi Smart Projector 2 can work as a complete home entertainment package on its own, producing great images and acceptable audio. If you’re the type that lives on a balanced video and audio experience, however, you might come away very disappointed in the projector’s audio quality.
This is compounded by the noise of the fans when using the small box. While not reaching engine levels, we found it to be louder than we would have liked, especially after our experience with other projectors. They aren’t loud enough to ruin the experience, but they can be pretty distracting, especially if you’re already straining to hear what’s coming out of the projector.
Fortunately, you do have the option to connect an external speaker or even your favorite pair of wired headphones via the 3.5mm jack. It might not be enough for a pro home audio setup, but you’d probably also have a more expensive and more stationary projector for that as well. Conversely, the Mi Smart Projector 2 can also function as a Bluetooth speaker for your smartphone, presuming the latter doesn’t have better speakers in the first place.
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 runs Android TV that has been certified by Google. That isn’t just a footnote because it means you have access to Google Play Store and all the apps in it. No more sideloading unofficial copies of apps just to get Netflix, and you can easily connect the projector with your Google account. The user interface feels fluid, and it had no problem playing any video we tried to throw at it.
You can also play Android games if you really want to, but that might not give the best experience. Inside the small box is an Amlogic T972, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, enough for some casual games but definitely not for heavier titles. You’ll also have to mind the heat generated when pushing the hardware to the max since that is enemy numero uno of projectors.
The Mi Smart Projector 2 also comes with support for Google Assistant, which means you can use it be your smart home hub as well. The remote control comes with a mic and a dedicated Google Assistant button for that very purpose. The RC isn’t backlit, though, which could pose a challenge when not if you do use it in the dark. Fortunately, there aren’t that many buttons on it anyway.
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 tries to combine the best of the two worlds of projectors and Android TV, and it, fortunately, does a decent job at both. It produces good images with great color accuracy, and its certified Android TV experience means you won’t be missing content sources. Its compact design combined with its fast auto-keystone correction means it’s easy enough to place anywhere you need it to be.
It’s far from perfect, though, with brightness and audio being our biggest nitpicks, but you might be hard-pressed to find something significantly better at the same price tier. The Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 is launching this October for around $700-$750, making it one of the more affordable options out there that combines all of these features in one fashionable package.