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Musing #65: Purchasing a projector (Xgimi Z6 Polar)

Purchasing a projector is never a straightforward decision because you are not buying in to its own product category but rather in to the category of displays as a whole. Thus, one needs to weigh it up against purchasing a TV or even a monitor. It doesn’t take much to figure out that the projector is the device of choice for a home cinema on a budget, where size matters more than anything else.

As a secondary “screen” for the bedroom, it was a no-brainer for me to go for a screenless display a.k.a. a projector, at least until hologram displays become mainstream. While I have been a cinema hall owner’s worst nightmare for years, this helps justify my abstinence from cinema halls even further.

Having decided on the display type, the purchase decision was dominated by one key spec – native full HD resolution. This is simply hard to come by when you are looking to not spend more than half a grand. Inevitably, it implies purchasing from a Chinese manufacturer and Xgimi was on my radar ever since the H1 was launched on Indiegogo. With the brand decided, on the basis of price and specs more than anything else, the next couple of questions involved “which”, “when” and “where”?

Xgimi’s product portfolio has been growing rather rapidly since the H1 with multiple iterative devices and for a time I was fixated on either the H1 as well as the recently launched H2 which were just beyond the price range I was comfortable with, considering I was essentially making a purchase from a foreign country without any warranty. It was against this backdrop that I came across the Z6 Polar which seemed to be a smaller sibling of the H-series. Being their entry-level Full HD projector, it fulfilled my primary criteria and it had the added advantage of being 4K HDR compatible along with portability at the expense of having a maximum brightness of only 700 ANSI lumens. Having no frame of reference for the brightness level, I took a shot in the dark by settling for the Z6 and hoping that my viewing experience didn’t get thwarted by the sun.

With the “which” decided in favour of the Z6, the next question was “when” to make the purchase. Usually Chinese products are competitively priced and sale discounts are not as huge as one is accustomed to when buying locally from Amazon or Flipkart. However, even then, there is nothing better than 11/11 when it comes to purchasing from China and true enough the Z6 was priced at $500 during the sale as against its normal pricing of $550 or retail pricing of $569.

However, this pricing meant nothing as due to the price and category of the product, custom duties were inevitable and hence my focus was on minimizing expenses as much as possible. Having cycled through a bunch of international Chinese marketplaces, I eventually decided to go with AliExpress and one seller in particular who had near 100% feedback over a large number of orders. I had my fair share of bad experiences during the early years of AliExpress, but even now it is a rarity to find a seller with impeccable ratings. It became evident later why this was the case.

With the 11/11 store and seller discounts along with some adroit negotiation, I was able to bring the price down to $476, having initially not expected much from my bargaining skills. Buoyed by this success, I braced myself for additional tariffs to take some of the sheen off. At this point, I should also mention the benefit of having the product shipped by Gati whose setup in China as well as India ensures that the product is delivered within 5 days of shipping which is phenomenal considering that even local deliveries take longer. However, the faster shipping didn’t do anything to compensate for the custom duties and sure enough I had to pay up at the time of accepting the delivery.

This was when the seller’s high rating came in to the picture. I took up the case of the custom duties with the seller not expecting much to come out of it but was pleasantly surprised to have the seller offer to refund these charges. It was simply astounding to receive this level of service and certainly shatters the stereotype that one may have regarding products and services from China.

While it was a leap of faith to have made the purchase, the entire transaction couldn’t have gone any better. The faith was rewarded in terms of a price that was nearly 40% lower than what’s listed locally on Amazon. The product itself is living up to its expectations and expect a review on that soon.

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