We usually unbox smartphones here, but as soon as we received this box we knew we had something very different. It’s huge, it’s heavy, and it’s made by a smartphone brand… but it’s not an enormous smartphone. It’s a laser projector by Xiaomi.

The Xiaomi Mi Laser Projector was announced back in China last year, and it became available officially in the U.S last month. It’s one of Xiaomi’s most expensive products, and also their first projector.

I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t used projectors too much -- living in Hong Kong means there isn’t much space. But that’s where the Xiaomi grabbed my interest, because it’s an ultra short throw projector. That means it only needs a foot or two of space to create a large screen: According to Xiaomi, the projector can cast up to a 150-inch image, in 1080p.

The Mi Laser Projector has a rectangular design with a black speaker grille in front.

The projector comes in cheap packaging. It’s not a high quality box, which is a little disappointing when ordering something that expensive. On top of the device you get a thick instruction manual, and it also comes with a remote and a power brick.

The projector itself reminds me a little of an Xbox One S, but with cheaper plastic that makes it feel like a toy. It has a grille up front that houses the speaker, a novel feature for a projector -- remember, most of them are usually behind you. But it also didn’t leave a great impression on us, because we noticed some dirt in the speaker grille -- it looked like some of the packaging had broken off and embedded itself in the grille.

We saw dirt in the speaker grille as soon as we got it.

There’s also a detector on top of the projector. According to Xiaomi, if you get too close to the laser, the projector will shut off its light automatically to prevent you from damaging your eyes.

Round the back, the projector has three HDMI ports (including an ARC port), a USB 3.0 port, audio in/out, optical S/PDIF, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The ports are mounted on a strange extra bit of plastic that doesn’t sit flush with the unit and feels a little loose. It supports WiFi and Bluetooth as well.

Plenty of ports on the back of the projector.

We’re going to test the projector in a real home soon to see how it does. Stay tuned for our review!