3. Remote control / GMUI 3.1 - Built-in Android system
For those who have not experienced a smart projector before, you'll be surprised to find how uncomplicated their remotes. In fact, while traditional remotes resemble keyboards, these ones however resembles the functionalities and ease of use of the mouse.
The remote control went through a few changes from the XGIMI H1. This time it’s made of plastic and runs on 2 AAA sized batteries. This was disappointing to me as I like the premium feel of the H1’s metal remote, which I quickly became a fan of. The H1S/H2 also use the same plastic remote design, so it looks like XGIMI will probably do this for all their future consumer level projectors.
This new design isn't flat as you can see in the comparison picture with the H1 remote, so it will wobble when placed onto a table. However it does feel better to grip in the hand. Went to get a second opinion about these remotes and we both agree that the H1 felt nicer to touch, but the Lune’s remote felt more comfortable to hold. I believe XGIMI also sells a ceramic version for the A1/T1 models though this seems to be a a limited item as I'm unable to find it on the Chinese market.
The buttons are exactly the same as the H1, except that the BACK button is now on the left. If you've ever used a mouse as a right hander then you'll probably be more used to having the back button on the right, however I can see how this being on the left can feel more natural to some. It's not a big issue, personally I like it on the left. They have excellent response and feedback. Nothing feels loose, mushy or rubbery like traditional remotes do.
There are only 12 buttons, but this is not a dumb-down-Apple-style remote with simple functions. It’s an intuitive and smart bluetooth controller with clever menu buttons and a built-in microphone that allows you to control not just the Lune, but also other devices in your room if they’re connected via WIFI or bluetooth.
Backlighting is completely unnecessary for a remote this intuitive. You can memorise the buttons in less than 2 minutes, which makes it easy to use for everyone - ladies, kids and old folks. People who don't want to deal with navigating through so many options will feel at home with this remote.
XGIMI also decided to go with removable AAA batteries instead of lithium ones, and I think it’s a good move. Removable batteries are easier to deal with and replace. Some H1 owners have had issues with the older remote due to the built-in batteries which XGIMI quickly replaced, though in over a year I've not had that issue.
Both remotes feature microphones which is clearly unlike any remote you've probably seen. You press the button and speak into it like you would with SIRI or an Alexa, and the system will try to meet your requests. I've tested this with commands like finding out the weather, time and even locating a song on the internet. It's really quite a groovy piece of technology!
I’ve tested the Bluetooth remote from another room and inside the blanket without a line of sight and it worked without problems. The advantages of bluetooth connectivity is that you can use another Bluetooth controller like a master remote, mouse, gamepad or controller. I can even switch out my remotes so that I can continue to use my H1 remote on the Lune. Having used my H1's remote for over a year, I can't even remember what using an IR remote is, and personally I'm very happy to leave it behind
GMUI 3.1 (Media operating system based on Android 6.0)
I’ve played around with HTPCs and media players for years, some were okay though most were pretty bad. The last one I bought was from MINIX, and I haven't touched in over a year. The XGIMI’s Android based operating system combined with the MStar 6A938 (Cortex A72x2 + A53x2) and MALI T820 worked better than all of them. Despite being in a language that’s completely foreign to me, it’s still intuitive enough for me to understand and reach most settings.
The biggest changes from the H1 have been the main menu which now has numerous streaming channels ranging from documentaries to KTV to the 2018 world cup.
I’ve had no issues watching streaming videos in 4K though I needed to pay 39rmb a month for the privilege, or $5.82 USD :-D
Also like the H1, you can install Android apps on the Lune from Youtube to games, though this can be a somewhat complicated process because Google isn't wholly supported on these smart projectors due to licencing and all kinds of issues. Some people have managed to get Google to work by reworking the firmware, though this is completely at their own risks. I've dabbed in command line software hacks before, but that was 20 years ago, and I'd much rather not compromise my setup (at the root level) at the expense of a couple of apps, though I'm open to any reliable firmware for international users just as one has been developed for the XGIMI H1S model.
It is also possible to install apps (APK files) via USB, this was how I was able to install Youtube despite being banned in China. Currently, both youtube and smart youtube TV works fine on my Lune.
This is a very underrate section because of how extensive Android is and the number of apps available to users. I'll be listing some recommended apps for the Lune over time and hopefully some easy non-rooting solutions to get Google working.
XGIMI has informed me that they plan to update GMUI to include international languages, but there’s no projected date. For now, the system is easy to use once you become familiar with where everything is. XGIMI once again deserves a lot of credit for combining an Android based system with a projector that works. I don't know too many projectors that are capable of playing media right out of the box, and I’ll get to media playback and compatibility later.