Optoma UHD65 4K DLP Projector Review
Optoma aim for the optimum 4K DLP projector
What is the Optoma UHD65?The UHD65 is the first 4K DLP projector from the company and it boasts a number of features such as frame interpolation and ISFccc certification for £2,999 (September 2017). It uses the new Texas Instruments XPR technology to bring 4K compatibility to a lower price point. It uses a pixel shift technique that they claim provides 8.3 million pixels on screen. It is also compatible with HDR10 signals and although it doesn’t feature a wide colour Rec.2020 (P3) gamut it will display colour at the Rec.709 HD standard.
So much like the ACER V9800 we reviewed recently and the ACER V7850 we are reviewing at the same time as the Optoma, these new DLP chips offer 4K Ultra HD HDR Blu-ray compatibility at more affordable price points for the consumer. But have they also managed to get around the usual limitations of DLP technology like black levels and shadow detail retrieval? Let’s find out…
Design, Connections and ControlThe Optoma has a very classic projector design with the lens centrally mounted with a black rectangular plastic body. There is a chrome coloured strip that winds its way around the centre of the projector breaking up the black body with the Optoma logo to the right side of the lens. Like all the other 4K DLP projectors based on the same chipset, the lens focus, zoom and shift are all manual affairs with the focus on the front of the lens unit. Underneath a black covered flap on the top of the unit towards the front is a hidden zoom ring and lens shift wheel.
The lens shift is only for vertical positioning, there is no horizontal movement on the UHD65. However this is very welcome on a DLP machine, which is usually restricted when it comes to lens shift capabilities. If you own a scope screen you will have to manually move between aspect ratios, unlike the motorised memory systems on the similarly priced Epson TW7300 & TW9300 models. Looking at the projector from the front there are some manual menu buttons and a power button to the left side of the projector chassis, which will be handy if you lose the very small remote control.
Around the back of the UHD65 are all the connections within a recessed area. There is an eye towards custom installation here with certification for Extron IP Link and Crestron control systems and the inclusion of an RJ45 Ethernet and RS232C port around the back. We also have two HDMI inputs with HDMI2 the only port that will accept HDMI2.0 HDCP 2.2 4K signals up to 60P. It is also MHL compatible. Rounding up we have a VGA input, 3.5mm audio in and outputs along with a USB power, 12V trigger and an optical audio slot.
The supplied remote control is small and plastic but it fits well in the hand and is easy to use. The buttons are large enough to hit with confidence and within easy thumb reach. There is a 3D button on the remote but this doesn’t work as the UHD65 is not 3D compatible. Overall the remote does its job without any fuss and is also backlit for use in a dark cinema room.
Build quality is good and the black chassis is a nice touch
FeaturesWe have had three 4K DLP projectors in for review at the time of writing this (Sept 2017) and all of them are based on similar chassis and software features. The Texas Instruments XPR technology on the chip which is 0.66inches is size offers a pixel shift technique which uses over 4.1 million mirrors to send 8.3 million claimed pixels on screen after the diagonal shift. This means that we get a very sharp 3840 x 2160p faux image on screen thanks to the single chip approach and the pixel shift. It’s not a native 4K image and sending a 4K-sharpness test pattern confirms this with blurred edges, but this is not visible with actual viewing material and you will find it very hard to pick out the resolution differences between this projector, a JVC E-shift and a native Sony 4K unit from a normal viewing distance. It will be other attributes such as black levels and shadow detail retrieval, along with accurate looking colours which make the image look different, not just resolution alone. In this respect the Optoma produces a very sharp image with plenty of detail and no sign of edge enhancement or blur.
The UHD65 is also compatible with 4K Ultra HD signals, as well as UHD Blu-ray and HDR10 content. However unlike the competition from Epson (TW models) and the JVC X5500, the Optoma is not able to display a wider gamut as the colour wheel technology is just not capable of getting close to the Rec.2020 (DCI-P3) standard currently used for Ultra HD Blu-ray. What the projector does is display colour at the Rec.709 HD standard which still produces a very nicely detailed and colourful image, it is just not as saturated as a projector that can match or get close to tracking the DCI-P3 gamut within Rec.2020. There are modes that falsely boost the colours on the UHD65 but these look overblown and overcooked, especially with skin tones so are best left off. However the projector does tone map well for a display with limited light output with HDR content and it does look surprisingly good with bright scenes. Lumens output is claimed to be 2200lm but in reality this is more like 900 in properly calibrated modes within a dark cinema room. It can go brighter in rooms with ambient lighting but errors do start to creep in, as it gets brighter.
In terms of image processing the UHD65 does have frame interpolation called PureMotion and with video based content, such as football or fast moving sports it does smooth out the image but also adds in a few artefacts. You might want to experiment with video based content, but film watching should be done with this switched off as it introduces the dreaded soap opera effect. Other PureEngine settings should also be used with caution, especially the colour boosting modes that add artificial colour brightness increases which ruin accuracy and make images look garish.
Finally if you own a scope screen then be aware that the Optoma is a completely manual projector like all the other 4K DLP machines. Unlike the Epson, Sony VW and JVC projectors, which have full memory shift, zoom and focus features, with the UHD65 you will need to manually change shift, zoom and focus every time you move between aspect ratios. We would like to see lens memory as standard on projectors at this price point and above as more and more users move to scope screens.
We would like to see motorised lens shift, zoom and focus at this price point
Out-of-the-Box SettingsAs we always do we started by finding the best picture settings out of the box that get as close as possible to the industry standards for HD playback. We found that after setting the brightness and contrast for our viewing environment the Reference picture mode and D75 white balance selection were the most accurate, along with a 2.4 gamma setting. We found that the D65 white balance setting was too warm which has been a common trend recently with DLP projectors. The D75 option was more balanced. We chose the 2.4 gamma as we were testing in a completely light controlled bat cave cinema room.
For an out of the box preset the D75 selection gave us the best possible greyscale tracking (top left) with just a slight deficit of blue at the higher (brighter) end of the scale but without any yellow cast being seen with actual on-screen material. DeltaE errors were 3 or below which is at the right end of the error scale so errors are not seen on screen for most viewers. Gamma was a slightly disappointing, but not major, issue with a bright dip at 10ire and slight peak over at around 70ire. This is not a deal breaker at all but we would have liked a little darker tone at 10ire to give the image a little more punch in the lower end, which is a struggle anyway for DLP machines. But overall the out of the box greyscale results are very good.
Looking at the colour gamut and we have enough coverage from the specially coated colour wheel (RGBRGB) segments for the Rec.709 HD standard. However there are a few issues with hue errors in the secondary colours, which could have been better out of the box, but unless you have a reference monitor next to the Optoma’s image the vast majority of users would never see these errors with on screen content. So in all reality this is a good result out of the box. It could have been more accurate, but for use in the types of environments the UHD65 will be installed in, it is good enough to provide a very nice looking image that is accurate enough.
Calibrated SettingsWe used our trusted Klein K10-A meter, CalMAN Ultimate software and Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator to measure the out of the box results and then calibrate to the industry standards using the provided Colour Management System (CMS) and white balance controls. The results were good out of the box so providing the calibration controls work without adding any issues we should get a very accurate image compared to the industry standards.
As you can see (top right) we were able to get the greyscale tracking perfectly and our DeltaE errors well under 2 for the majority of the scale. Gamma sadly didn’t improve over the out of the box settings, but again this wasn’t a deal breaker anyway and we were delighted with the results obtained.
The gamut was also fixed (top right) with some changes in the CMS to the hue of the secondary colours after the white balance was corrected. This gave us a very accurate Rec.709 gamut that also had excellent luminance results, which are not shown in the graphs. Overall we were very happy with the results, which are as accurate as they’ll ever be for a consumer level product.
HDR ResultsAs always we will start this section by saying that HDR on a projector is nothing like the results you will get on an HDR TV. It is a different experience and with a restricted brightness output the specular highlights are never going to have as much intensity that they do on an OLED or LCD TV with a high nits output. Having said that it is possible to get a good HDR effect with a projector when set up to do so without severe clipping of the black levels, shadow details or highlights. The other disadvantage here with the Optoma is that it doesn’t have a wide enough native colour gamut to produce the wide colours of the UHD format. Instead the projector maps this to the Rec.709 standard.
Looking at the greyscale and EOTF (SMPTE 2084 PQ) mapping (top left) we can see that even though there is not a lot of light on offer, the projector does tone map as much as it can within it’s limitations and the tracking is precise. The greyscale is also excellent and DeltaE errors are 3 or under which is great. So while there is restricted light output and no wide colour available (top right), the Optoma can display the HDR image within it’s limitations and the results are surprisingly decent.
PerformanceWe have reviewed and tested a few 4K DLP projectors now with the Acer V9800 tested recently and Acer V7850 also on the way and they are all very similar being based on the same chassis, software and chip. They all have to compete with the likes of the Epson TW7300 and TW9300 along with the JVC X5500. For the Optoma to shine it has to offer more than the V9800 did for the money asked and offer something the competition can’t. At first this looks like a very difficult task as the Epson and JVC competition have far better black levels and shadow detail retrieval along with the ability to display wider colour gamuts – areas where the UHD65 can’t compete. They are all faux 4K machines like the Optoma so when it comes to resolution there is no big differences between all the models at normal viewing distances, they all do an excellent job. It’s certainly an uphill struggle for the DLP at this stage in proceedings with the black level performance and shadow detail retrieval no better here than with the V9800 and V7850. Contrast performance is 1400:1 on/off and 910:1 ANSI, which is again nothing ground breaking when compared to the competition. But it is not all bad news here. In fact the Optoma at its price point does have some strengths that will, for some users, outstrip the competition.
The Epson and JVC models thrive in dedicated light controlled cinema rooms. In such environments their dynamic range and high contrast performance can be enjoyed and savoured, along with the wider colour gamut performance. However start to add things like a white ceiling and walls in to the equation and the plus points are negated quite quickly, especially those shadows and deep blacks. That’s because light starts to reflect around such a room and back on to the screen, washing out those deep blacks. In such an environment you need brightness over inky blacks (which are impossible in such a room) and suddenly the Optoma starts to shine – no pun intended!
Take the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Planet Earth II and it can look stunning at times. Most of the scenes take place in deserts, forests and oceans that are bright, detailed and colourful and the Optoma is in its element here. The stunning photography really shines off the screen with excellent sharpness and depth. Only during the dark settings, such as the hyenas in the village does the lack of deep blacks and low-end details spoil things slightly. The HDR elements also do have some dynamic range to them, and set up correctly so there is no clipping, it can look very good within the limitations of the Optoma’s abilities. Deepwater Horizon is a newer test disc that has both bright and sunny contrasted with nighttime and bright explosions in HDR, and it can at times look stunning with the UHD65. The projector is capable of displaying the detail within the orange and yellows of the explosions and images look super sharp. Even with so much of the action set at night, the Optoma does a commendable job of trying to display as much as it is capable of on screen.
Even with normal HD material on Blu-ray and via streaming, the brighter content really pops off the screen helped by the excellent sharpness of DLP. Colours are accurate and skin tones are spot on. It’s only the blacks and shadows that disappoint in a bat cave, but in the right environment they are less jarring and will be less of an issue for users with such rooms.
- Full 4K UHD HDR compatibility
- Faux 4K performance is very good
- Excellent sharpness thanks to single chip
- Accurate colours to Rec.709
- Full calibration controls
- 21dB fan noise
- Manual lens shift
- Good motion
- Good image processing
- Good brightness and suited to all white environments more than bat caves
- Poor black levels and shadow detail performance in bat cave conditions
- No wide colour
- Can look expensive compared to competition
- No motorised lens memory functionality
Optoma UHD65 4K DLP Projector ReviewThe Optoma UHD65 is a first generation 4K DLP projector and comes to a market where there is plenty of tough competition. If you have a dedicated cinema room and want the best projected image possible in normal HD and 4K HDR with wide colour, then there are better options on the market which do more than the UHD65 and have far superior black levels and shadow detail retrieval around the same price point. However, if you have a normal living space with white walls and ceilings where the competition would struggle to show off their advantage, the Optoma begins to make more sense. In such a room there is so much light bouncing back on the screen that any advantage the Epson and JVC models had in the blacks and dynamic range are washed out. The UHD65 is then back on a level playing field and its brightness and sharpness begin to appeal. Yes, it doesn’t have wide colour and HDR images are mapped to Rec.709 HD colour, but apart from a slightly less saturated look, the Optoma delivers bright, sharp images with excellent motion and bags of detail.
If you want to watch sports on the big screen there is a useful motion feature to smooth out fast moving sports action and it does a decent job with only a few instances of artefacts appearing on screen during the most complicated scenes. We would obviously suggest turning this feature off when watching movies or you introduce the dreaded soap opera effect. Because this is a single chip projector compared to the three chip D-ILA, 3LCD and SXRD competition, the UHD65 is very sharp with excellent edge definition without using any processing at all. Colours to the Rec.709 standard are also accurate producing a nice looking image with believable skin tones and no signs of posterisation with subtle changes in hue over a large area of the same colour, such as blue skies.
In the right environment the Optoma produces a very good performance and at a price point where it competes against some very strong competition. It is cheaper than the V9800 we tested recently and when looking at the performance vs. price for certain conditions it manages to make a decent case for itself where brightness and a raised black floor means it can offer something the competition struggle with. In this respect and with that caveat it manages a recommendation.
MORE: Projector Reviews
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
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