Big screen gaming, small form factor
The Switch has been an absolutely massive hit for Nintendo. The Big N always marches to the beat of their own drum, but they certainly try to come up with offerings that they think people will enjoy. While the Wii U failed to find a sizable audience, the Switch more than made up with it. With over 111 million units sold worldwide, it’s clear gamers have found a lot to enjoy with Switch, and most of those people would cite the console/hybrid nature of the platform as the key selling point.
While I’ve certainly dabbled with portable play for a number of titles, I’m very much a docked player. When it comes to my tastes and comfort, docked is the way to go. Yes, I’ve owned all of Nintendo’s portables over the years, but I always preferred playing on a TV. That means my Switch rarely leaves its dock, and I’m parked in front of a somewhat lackluster TV to enjoy all the fantastic games available.
For about 5 years now, I’ve been using the same bargain-basement flatscreen to play the Switch on, and I was totally fine with that. I’m not really a technology snob in any way, so a TV that spits out a clear, bright image is good enough for me. While I had no plans of changing things up, an opportunity came my way in recent months to try quite a different docked setup. To be honest, it’s not one I ever expected to give a go, but it’s been an incredibly enlightening journey.
I have one friend who absolutely swears by projectors. For years now, they’ve been enjoying the PS4 (and now Switch) hooked up through ceiling-mounted projector. While I haven’t seen it in person, he’s constantly singing the praises of this setup. He just loves seeing a larger-than-life image in front of him when playing video games. I could certainly see how that would be a fun way to take in games, but I never thought it feasible for my own house/setup. Now I know that I was 100% wrong about that!
Not too long ago, the gang at XGIMI reached out with an opportunity. They believed their XGIMI Elfin projector to be the perfect pairing for Switch players, and they wanted to see if I’d give it a shot. Truthfully, I was quite a bit weary about the opportunity, as I’m not exactly a big tech guy, but more importantly, I didn’t think there’d be a room in my house where a projector would make any sense. That said, I took a bit of time to ponder the proposition, and then decided to give things a go.
When I pictured using a projector for gaming or watching movies/TV shows, I envisioned a living room or similar space that had been completely organized around that idea. I imagined a projector hanging down from the ceiling or placed on a central pedestal, a considerable sheet/screen in the front of the room, and plenty of blackout curtains and blockage for direct sunlight. It seemed like so much fuss for such a specific-case use, which is why I never looked into giving it a try.
The XGIMI Elfin projector seems to be made with the goal of bucking all those trends. It’s billed as a ‘portable’ projector, which sounded like an oxymoron to my caveman mind, but I can see what XGIMI is getting at. This projector is roughly 7 inches long and 2 inches high, so it’s much tinier than what I was expecting. Again, for whatever reason, I saw projectors as absolute beasts in my mind; something that took up the space of a computer tower on its side. Obviously there are still incredibly sophisticated, maxxed-out projectors like that out there, but there’s a whole minimal movement I didn’t know about, and it seems the XGIMI Elfin is aiming to be at the forefront.
This modest profile, along with its roughly 2-pound weight, means the XGIMI Elfin is easy to move and place anywhere. That definitely dovetails nicely with the Switch itself. While my Switch is docked 90% of the time, I have moved the Switch itself from TV to TV in the house, and shuffled around docks quite a few times as well. As long as you’re grabbing your Switch and dock for some TV play on the go, taking the XGIMI Elfin projector with you wouldn’t be a problem at all.
Now this might sound like I’m being overdramatic, but I swear to you it’s not. My house is rather tiny, and it’s filled with a collection of small rooms. There are only a couple of spaces that are modestly-sized, but they have practically zero wallspace for me to use for a projector. This is why I hesitated when first considering a review of the XGIMI Elfin. I took the time to look around my house to see what’s possible, which is when I considered my office. While there’s already two desktop monitors and a TV in there, it’s the only room in the house that has open walls for projector use. There are two spots that offer roughly 60 x 60 blocks of space, making my office the place to give the XGIMI Elfin a go.
I do not consider myself a tech illiterate in any way, but I know there’s a ton I’m unaware of. When it comes to setting up a projector, I had absolutely no clue what to do. Obviously I knew the basics, but I didn’t know how much I had to prepare in order to get things up-and-running. Thankfully, the XGIMI Elfin was incredibly easy to configure, and I had everything ready to go in under 10 minutes. I slid the projector under my TV to point at the opposite wall, plugged it into the socket, and then turned it on. I ran through the guided setup screens to straighten the image, set up WiFi and so on, and then the XGIMI Elfin was ready to use!
Looking back on the experience, I’m quite embarrassed about how much I had built things up in my mind. I thought I’d have to spend hours twisting/turning/tweaking the projector to make it cast correctly, and I’d have to look up a ton of new tech words online to parse what the menus were telling me. That really wasn’t the case here at all, with almost everything being extremely self-explanatory, and the few things I hadn’t heard of before were explained on the menus themselves. It was an absolutely painless setup process, and one I have no doubt all of you could handle with ease.
When it comes to getting the picture ‘straight,’ the XGIMI Elfin pretty much handled the entire process on its own. The projector offers ‘Auto Keystone Correction,’ which means the projector sees the surface it’s being projected on, and then auto-corrects the alignment to give you the best sized/aligned image possible. It takes maybe a couple of seconds to figure things out, and then you have a perfect projection. I even put this ‘Auto Keystone Correction’ process to the test by tilting and moving the projector into different positions, and only once did it stay slightly askew. That wasn’t an issue either, as you can use the included remote to manually adjust stretch/skew and all that, so even if the auto-process doesn’t get things quite right, you can easily tweak settings to your needs.
Also, as a quick note, the XGIMI Elfin offers the same auto-option for focusing the image as well. Yet again, this isn’t anything I ever needed to tweak, as the projector came up with perfect focus on its own every time. There are manual options if you’re interested in pushing things in one direction or another, but what the XGIMI Elfin conjures up on its own seemed to be 100% fine for my needs and tastes.
While the XGIMI Elfin offers internal storage and built-in Chromecast features for your TV/movie streaming needs, I was interested in the gaming side of things. Now, it’s important to note that the XGIMI Elfin tops out at 1080p, which is definitely lower than some higher-end projector models. That said, if you’re using this for Switch gameplay those specs are absolutely fine, as the Switch itself cannot go above that resolution. As for whether you’re okay with streaming movies/TV/YouTube at 1080p, that’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.
Much like the rest of the XGIMI Elfin setup, getting the Switch projected onto my wall was no problem at all. All I had to do was plug in one end of the HDMI from the Switch dock into the back of the XGIMI Elfin, and then use a ‘source’ menu to swap over to the Switch source. Again, that’s all there is to it, and the included remote means you won’t have to get up and fumble with the unit itself to get anything done. In other words, you could set up your Switch dock through the projector just one time, and you’ll be good to go from there on out.
Those of you who’ve followed GoNintendo for decades now might know that I’m never ashamed to share my excitement for/about something. I never aim to stifle my reactions, and everything I put out there is genuine. That’s why I wish I recorded my first reaction to seeing the Switch through the XGIMI Elfin. Seeing the Switch out of the confines of my 42-inch TV and projected on half of my office wall made my jaw drop, followed by some giggles of disbelief. There was just something so absurd and equally impressive about seeing the Switch on such a massive piece of real estate that it was hard to process!
First off, the image spit out by the XGIMI Elfin was ridiculously sharp. It’s easily better than the image my TV offers! Again, that TV isn’t the best by any means at all, but it’s served me well all the time I’ve been using it. Swapping over from that to the XGIMI Elfin was like night and day. Even more impressive were the colors, as they absolutely screamed off the wall. Obviously a projector has to be bright to cast a clear, sharp image, but the image on display with the XGIMI Elfin was honestly nuts.
I also want to point out that the image from XGIMI Elfin was bright enough to combat the sunlight in my office. My office is small, but it has two windows in it, and there’s always sun pouring in from one of them. I hadn’t drawn the blinds before setting up the XGIMI Elfin, as I figured I’d get to it after everything was in place. Truth be told, I didn’t even have to pull the blinds. The projection on this sucker is so bright that the sun didn’t stand a chance. Of course, with that being the case, I wanted to see just how much better things got when I closed the blinds and my door. Doing that made for an image so bright that I honestly had to turn it down a bit. That’s definitely a good problem to have, as you’d rather be in a situation where you adjust the picture to make it less bright, rather than have one you can’t see in a room that’s already dimly lit, or even worse, completely dark. Without a doubt, seeing the picture from the XGIMI Elfin shouldn’t be any issue at all, even during the day.
The only real hiccup I came across with playing the Switch on the XGIMI Elfin was during my initial sit-down with the projector. At the time of testing, I was playing Kirby and the Forgotten Land for review. When I picked up the controller to play, I noticed that there was a small amount of lag present. It wasn’t enough to make the game unplayable, but enough to be discernible. That was obviously a bummer, and in my eyes, it would make the XGIMI Elfin pretty much unusable for what I wanted/needed. I took a quick look at the booklet that came with the XGIMI Elfin and saw that the unit included something called ‘Game Mode Boost,’ so I thought I’d give that a try.
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve tried using ‘Game Mode’ on a TV to reduce input lag, it never seems to work. Things might improve, but the situation never gets to the level I want it at. That’s why I didn’t have high hopes for the Game Mode Boost option here, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t fix the issue instantly. I went from feeling/seeing noticeable button lag to something that felt just as good as my regular TV. Now I can’t say there’s absolutely zero lag introduced, but I give you my word that I couldn’t feel anything at all. I’m not not talking about a negligible amount of input lag that I could tolerate. I swear to you I felt absolutely no difference between my normal Switch/TV setup and the Switch/XGIMI Elfin setup once this mode was turned on, and I tried multiple games just to make sure.
My experience with the XGIMI Elfin has been good enough to make me feel stupid for never considering a projector setup in the past. I spent years thinking there would be a cumbersome setup, a washed-out projection, a nightmarish alignment process and so on. I can’t speak for other projectors, but I can say the XGIMI Elfin did away with all of my concerns, and in just about no time flat. Just to make it clear, I played up to the second world of Kirby and the Forgotten Land on my TV, and then I played the rest of the game (bonus content included) on the XGIMI Elfin. This wasn’t just a nice diversion for a while, this is definitely my preferred way to play. Now I finally know what my friend means. You really can’t beat the feeling of gaming on a giant screen (or wall, or sheet…or whatever!)
As a final note, I do want to say that the XGIMI Elfin has a built-in speaker, but as you might suspect, it’s not the best quality. It’s nice to have one included, but it’s not the way you’d want to experience your games or movies. It might be fine for some YouTube videos for friends, but if you’re sitting down to really immerse yourself in a game/movie, you’ll want to go a different route. The XGIMI Elfin does have a 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as Bluetooth, so you can connect Bluetooth speakers or headphones. I went with the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack for my audio, and I used the same headphones as when I play on my old TV setup. I noticed absolutely no difference in audio quality or performance.
If you’re interested in learning more about the XGIMI Elfin projector or picking one up yourself, you can check out the official info page here.