When you’re ready to unbox and set up a projector, your first instinct is to place a table in the middle of the room, a fair bit away from the wall on which you will be projecting the image. I recently took over the Formovie C3 4K Laser TV projector to a friend's basement (which is large, relatively empty, and perfect for testing a projector), and that’s what we did.
As we were admiring the starry sky mesh art design and just how lightweight (7kg) and portable the projector was, we ran into two problems. First, the image was pointing to the ceiling, and second, it runs on FengOS 3.0, a proprietary software developed in China. As it turned on, everything was in Chinese.
The solution, to both the problems, was right in front of our eyes. I had completely forgotten that this was an ultra-short throw (UST) projector. UST projectors can create a 100-inch image from less than a foot away from the screen/wall. All we had to do was move the projector closer to the wall and we could see a crystal-clear image. The OS may be in Chinese, but luckily, the settings menu was in English, so we were able to fiddle around and get the sharpest image possible. An Amazon 4K Fire Stick Max (all in English) comes with the device, and once we connected that, we were good to go.
UST projectors use laser light sources along with 4K imaging chips to provide the best image quality possible. Most UST projectors have a high level of lumens (a measurement of brightness).
According to its official website: “Formovie Tech is a Mi ecosystem company jointly established by Appotronics Corporation and Xiaomi Technology, and also the global leading Laser TV and smart projector brand.” The brand officially launched in India in the latter half of 2023, but there is no word on whether a global version of the OS (in English) is coming.
Formovie has several projectors available in India, but their latest, Formovie C3 4K Laser TV projector, is the one I chose to review.
The Formovie C3 (as I’ll refer to it henceforth) comes with an Advanced Laser Phosphor Display (ALPD) with 4K resolution (HDR10+ support) for enhanced colour precision, which is the highlight. The brightness is rated at 400 nits, which is plenty bright for any room.
The image size is adjustable, ranging from 80 to 120 inches. The projector has a 3000:1 contrast ratio and can reproduce 1.07 billion colours. For eliminating motion blur and providing a smoother viewing experience, the projector comes with the MEMC global motion technique. The Formovie C3 also gets a new 4-core MT9669 processor and comes with 3GB+32GB (RAM+ROM).
While the projector comes equipped with FengOS (based on Android), and is mostly in Chinese, there is an Amazon 4K Fire Stick Max included in the box for seamless usage of the projector. The Formovie C3 projector is ultra-thin and comes with a borderless full-screen design. The USP of the projector is the giant-screen and immersive viewing experience. As a bonus, the projector addresses concerns related to eye care and direct light sources.
There are plenty of ports - USB, HDMI, line-out, power jack and more. Plug in all your devices and you needn’t worry about missing out or finding adapters.
All-in all, the projector is packed with features, and on paper, doesn’t disappoint. It’s got a price tag to boast as well. The Formovie C3 projector retails for ₹2,50,000 on its official India website. There is also a 100-inch Fresnel Screen on offer, and the combo price of these two is ₹3,90,000 (all-inclusive).
Formovie C3 has a starry fabric art patch design that is very elegant. It’s on a white matter body (as opposed to black TVs that we’re all used to). Besides being a great projector, this also looks very modern no matter where you place it.
The best part about most projectors (UST or not) is the screen size. With projectors, as opposed to regular TVs, more people can watch together. The other good thing is that one doesn’t have to worry about bad viewing angles. I walked around the entire room, and even went parallel to the wall, and there wasn’t any part of the room where I felt I wasn’t getting the best out of the projector. Of course, sitting at the centre is prime, but if quality is great at all points, then the projector passes its primary test. The Formovie C3 is rated at 2400 ANSI lumens and also features a game mode that offers low latency.
The other thing about projectors is to choose between having external speakers or not. This is an added cost that one shouldn’t have to worry about on top of a relatively expensive projector. Thankfully, the Formovie C3 passes this test with ease.
We booted up Netflix and turned on David FIncher’s recent movie The Killer. There are quite a few darker scenes and even moments of silence, leading up to a loud gunshot. The Formovie C3 projector did justice to both the blacks, as well as the sound.
We then put on the 1st Test match between South Africa and India, and got a stadium-like experience. The speakers on the projector may not be optimal if you’re sitting in the corner of the room, but they are loud enough to be heard even in a crowded party.
Formovie isn’t a household name outside of China. Even though it launched in North America and Europe a while ago, it hasn’t become mainstream. Indians aren’t used to having projectors (I’ve hardly seen it in anyone’s house) and always go for a high-end TV.
Navigating the FengOS and setting up the device might be a steep curve for some, but once you’re past that you’re good to go with the Formovie C3. There are reports that Formovie plans to re-launch their projectors with Android TV sometime in 2024 but we’ll have to wait and watch.
The Formovie C3 is for users who have a large, empty wall in their living space and want an immersive viewing experience with more than a couple of friends. The projector, with all the lights switched off, can give a feeling of being in a cinema hall. That’s the best compliment one can give to the projector. At ₹2,50,000, the Formovie C3 isn’t cheap. But for a projector this good, it is worth every rupee. I haven’t tested out the 100-inch Fresnel Screen, but even without it, the projector is fabulous.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts at @IMSahilBhalla