Optoma UHZ65 Projector Review

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Is this the best faux 4K DLP projector yet?

by Phil Hinton May 22, 2018 at 7:29 AM

  • SRP: £4,999.00

    What is the Optoma UHZ65?

    This is the latest 4K DLP projector from Optoma and is almost identical to the previously reviewed UHD65, but instead of a bulb it uses a laser diode for the light source. It uses the new Texas Instruments XPR DLP technology to create the perception of 8.3 million pixels on screen by quickly flashing the DLP mirrors to create two fields of pixels that the human eye sees as one high-resolution image. This is certified at 4K from a trade body, but it is really just faux 4K created in a clever way to save costs on using a native 4K chip. As we always say here at AVForums resolution is only one part of what makes a great picture. The use of a laser also adds new benefits such as instant on/off, similar brightness levels for the life of the projector, which is stated to be 20,000 hours and purer colour accuracy.

    The UHZ65 can also accept and display HDR images when the metadata is detected and Optoma claim it has a wider colour gamut than Rec.709 (which most 4K DLP models are restricted to), saying they can cover 80% of DCI-P3 which we will be measuring and testing in due course. A nice additional extra is a vertical lens shift for easier installation as well as PureMotion frame interpolation technology and dynamic black settings and laser light output adjustment.

    We thought that the UHD65 was a good 4K DLP model, so can its big laser powered brother prove to be the best yet? Lets find out…

    Design, Connections and Control

    Optoma UHZ65 Design, Connections and Control
    At first glance the UHZ65 looks very similar to the bulb-based UHD65 but on closer inspection there are some obvious differences to the design. Build quality remains good with the use of hardwearing plastics for the chassis, although this review sample has been around the doors somewhat and over cleaning has dulled the glossy top finish with swirl marks. A brand new retail sample will not have those issues and a light clean to remove dust is all you’ll need to do now and again. The UHZ65 has a solid smooth front facia design with the lens centrally mounted with the focus ring around the edge and this is doubled up with a grey coloured circle that protects the lens housing. To the bottom right is the Optoma logo in white and between this and the lens is the remote sensor. To the bottom of the chassis on the front are two (extendable) feet. Around each side of the projector are air intakes and on the right side are two silver buttons for power and source selection.

    The top plate looks like one single piece of gloss plastic, but if you press down on the front half it opens to reveal the lens shift and zoom controls under the front flap. Single chip DLP projectors rarely have a vertical lens shift so it is very welcome here and will help with the installation of the UHZ65. You should never need to use the keystone correction on any projector when installing, as it will kill all fine detail in the image and cause artefacts on straight edges. Always take the time to correctly install your projector to get the absolute best performance from it. Every manufacturer publishes the best set up positioning information for their model, so make sure you follow this advice. The flap is easy to push down to lock again once you have completed the installation, and being locked in place makes it ideal for ceiling mounting.
    Optoma UHZ65 Design, Connections and Control
    Around the back we have the connections in a recess that will help with cable management when ceiling mounted. From left to right we have the power socket, LAN (RJ45) and RS232 ports. Next is HDMI 1, which is HDMI V1.4 only, and HDMI 2 is HDMI V2.0 and MHL compatible. So you will need to use HDMI 2 for 4K/60P 4:4:4 HDR10 content signals. Finally we have a PC VGA input along with audio in and out, optical digital audio and two USB ports for service and power use only.

    The remote control for the Optoma UHZ65 is the exact same model used on the UHD65 and other models. It is a small silver coloured unit with a bright white backlight for use in darkened rooms. The buttons are small and fiddly to use, but are logically laid out at least. The most important picture and menu options are within easy thumb reach with the source input buttons to the bottom. Overall the remote is designed to sit in the hand with its tapered edges, but you can’t help but feel it is a little cheaply made given the price of the package here.

    Optoma UHZ65
    The remote feels a little cheap at this price point...

    UHZ65 Features and Specs

    Optoma UHZ65 UHZ65 Features and Specs
    The Optoma UHZ65 is a 4K (3840 x 2160) laser projector that uses the new TI XPR 0.66inches DLP chip which creates the image by a clever double image trick where it sends half the pixels in one go and then the other half slightly offset to fool the human eye in to seeing a perceivably high-resolution image. It is a clever way of doing things and similar to other such faux 4K techniques being used by manufacturers to keep costs down, rather than using native 4K chips. The difference in resolution terms between this projector, a native Sony 4K machine, a JVC E-shift and an Epson is very small to non-existent at normal viewing distances. It’s other picture attributes such as dynamic range, black levels and colour accuracy that will be the difference you see in those images, not resolution alone. The image is sharp with decent edges and no signs of blurring or edge enhancement and the lens is of a decent enough quality to ensure that image sharpness is constant across the screen. Obviously lens set-up is a manual affair on this projector, which means careful set up of the focus is required and is ideally a two-person job.
    Optoma UHZ65 UHZ65 Features and Specs
    The UHZ65 can accept 4K Ultra HD HDR signals and display the content on screen. It does so by the faux 4K approach, HDR tone mapping techniques and a slightly wider colour gamut than the normal Rec.709 HD standard used by traditional 4K DLP projectors. By using a laser light source rather than a traditional UHP bulb the Optoma offers slightly better black levels and more accurate colour wavelengths with the colour wheel to give that slightly wider gamut. DLP however is weak when it comes to shadow details and the same is true when using even a laser source, lower level black becomes one block without any signs of shadow details. It is a weakness of the technology that machines costing tens of thousands more with DLP technology suffer from. Brightness from the UHZ65 is claimed to be 3000 Lumens and in calibrated modes the real world figure is around 1000 lumens in Reference mode and around 1100 in HDR. It does hold up well in rooms with light coloured surfaces and some ambient light.

    The image processing is the same as the UHD65 with PureMotion on hand to smooth out judder in some content but it does so by adding Soap Opera Effect (SOE) which with film material is to be avoided by switching it off. However if you watch a lot of video based TV content and fast moving sports you may want to experiment with the settings to find one that suits, just be aware that as well as SOE there are image artefacts seen with image tearing on some fast moving content. There are also contrast and colour boosting processing modes within the PureEngine section of the menus, but again use these with caution as they usually add more bad than good to the image quality. There are also three Dynamic Black settings, which act much like a dynamic iris dimming the light output slightly, and there is a power mode to reduce the laser output by as much as 50% of the brightness. Optoma also claim that the laser source will last for 20,000 hours without any real drop in brightness over that life span, meaning no changing of bulbs and reduced costs of ownership. Plus with such a stable light source you can leave the image longer between calibrations as it holds the settings for longer, again saving money.

    MORE: The Best Projectors to Buy


    The laser light source means instant on/off and consistent light output for its 20,000 hour lifespan

    Out-of-the-Box Settings

    We set about finding the best out of the box settings for SDR material on the UHZ65 and found that the Reference preset was the best for this. We set the brightness and contrast for our room and surroundings, set gamma to 2.4, white balance was set to D75 and the colour gamut chosen was HDTV. We measured the results using our Klein K10-A meter, Murideo Fresco Six-G generator and CalMAN Ultimate software.
    Optoma UHZ65 Out-of-the-Box Settings
    Optoma UHZ65 Out-of-the-Box Settings

    As we can see in the greyscale tracking chart (top left) the Optoma does a fairly decent job with the greyscale mix, with red energy peaking too high by just over 5% in the lightest parts of the image and green and blue tracking down by a few per cent each. This gives the DeltaE errors of just over 3 after the midpoint of the track towards the brightest point of the image where it peaks at a smidge over 4. This means that there might be a visible colour tint to some material seen by some viewers and we did detect a slightly yellow tint with on-screen material, but nothing that we would call distracting. If you didn’t have a reference image next to what you were watching the vast majority of viewers would never see this at all. Gamma is tracking fairly well around the 2.4 point.

    Colour is where we tend to notice more errors if things are not quite right and we did notice this more than any greyscale errors. The Rec.709 colour gamut results (top right) are a tad disappointing for the UHZ65 as we see a number of hue and saturation errors, which are obvious with some viewing materials. The main issue is skin tones looking a little bit red around the cheeks and that’s all down to too much red saturation and magenta also heading towards red, which amplifies the issue slightly. It is not a glaring error that you’ll notice on every face in the image, but reds do appear blown out and some rosy cheeks look a little too rosy. Most actor’s look like their blushing and some with existing tans look a little David Dickinson. We did see a similar result with the UHD65 out of the box, but with slightly less of a hue error on magenta. Would this be noticeable if you were not calibrating your UHZ65? It all depends on the material you are watching and how sensitive you are to seeing such errors. Add in any of the image processing features on board that force more luminance into the colours and you’ll soon notice those! There is a Colour Management System (CMS) on-board so we should hopefully be able to tame this error down and get the tracking a little more accurate – which will be good news for those who will get their projectors calibrated.

    Calibrated Settings

    The Optoma UHZ65 is equipped with a decent menu system and calibration controls including a two point white balance and full CMS system. However we did find some issues with the menus, which drove us mad! We love the fact that Optoma and their engineers include the calibration controls and in particular the Colour Management System (CMS) but we bet nobody at Optoma has tried to calibrate their own projector, because if they did we doubt they would have released it like this. Basically the menus can’t be moved away from the centre of the screen, the exact area where we have our 10% measurement box. In some projectors you can move the menu system to the sides, but we couldn’t find any way to do that. But that is not the worst culprit. When you open the CMS and select the colour you want to adjust, when you press the plus or minus key, instead of the controls dropping to the bottom of the screen (like the white balance controls do, and most other displays we calibrate), the CMS remains bang in the centre of the screen covering the measurement window. You have to make changes, then exist the entire menu, measure, then get all the way back into the menu system and repeat for hours! Please fix this Optoma!

    MORE: Should I get my projector professionally calibrated?

    Optoma UHZ65 Calibrated Settings
    Optoma UHZ65 Calibrated Settings

    Like we mentioned there are two point controls for the greyscale (top left) and although they are quite coarse in adjustment steps, we did manage to get the tracking accurate and DeltaE errors all under 2 which is well below the human visual error perception level, meaning you will not see any colour tint or cast to the image at all. Gamma didn’t change much in the way it tracked, but without a full gamma editor there is not much else we can do to adjust it, but as it stands we have no issues.

    Colour gamut wise (top right) we finally managed to fix most of the errors and get at least the 75% and below saturation points correct to the standards. We managed this in most cases and luminance was also very good (not shown in this graph). It is just a shame Optoma couldn’t get this accuracy out of the box given it uses a laser – read stable – light source. But we are very happy with the calibrated results and performance.

    HDR Results

    As we always do at this point, we have to stress yet again that HDR on projectors is nothing like watching HDR material on an OLED or LCD TV as there is just no way you can project specular highlights to one exact spot on the screen, like you can get to the pixel level on an OLED or close to that on an LCD screen. A projected image is different and has differing characteristics so it cannot get as bright or have the same dynamic range to create its images. However you can still get an HDR experience on a projector and depending on how it handles the tone mapping and PQ EOTF, it can be quite a decent image to look at.

    When you feed the Optoma an HDR signal it automatically switches into that (HDR) picture mode, which is usually greyed out when no metadata is received. All controls within the menu are still accessible and some are automatically switched on to handle the HDR image. The interesting thing here is that all DLP projectors we have tested so far that can accept HDR signals have only had Rec.709 colour gamuts so are unable to show the wide colour information properly. The UHZ65 is reported to cover at least 80% of the DCI-P3 gamut, which is used for Hollywood films and UHD discs. So let’s see how well it actually performs.

    MORE: What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)?

    Optoma UHZ65 HDR Results
    Optoma UHZ65 HDR Results

    In terms of EOTF (SMPTE 2084 PQ) tracking (top left) it does a very good job of tone mapping to the limitations of the projectors native brightness and gamma response, as you can see in the luminance chart, it rolls off nicely to the 218 nits maximum brightness of the UHZ65 and does so in a way to clips highlights, but tries to keep the rest of the image in balance with decent dynamic range.

    The colour gamut coverage (top right) is also decent within the limitations of the projector and it’s colour capabilities, which place it well above other 4K DLP models on the market at this time. Looking at how it racks to DCI-P3 (the lighter triangle) you can see that it cannot get out far enough in Red, Yellow and Green, and then it’s capped in the Green and Cyan side as well. This is the native gamut of the projector and all it is capable of reaching towards DCI-P3 with good luminance performance, not shown in the graphs. This is the best we have seen from a consumer level 4K DLP projector so far. It could be better, but it is a decent start and without artificial colour boosting which always looks bad.

    MORE: What is Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)?

    We measured peak white on an industry standard 10% window to be 218 nits and the black performance where it didn’t switch off completely (video level 16) at 0.0280 which gives and on/off figure of 7,785:1 which is also very good for a DLP unit. You could lower the contrast and curtail some clipping but this changes the overall picture brightness capabilities and restricts the dynamic range available, so leaving it at default gives the best image possible from this unit.

    The UHZ65 makes a good crack at HDR images and wider colour compared to its DLP rivals

    UHZ65 Picture Performance

    With all the testing and test patterns out of the way it was time to settle down and live with the UHX65 for a week, watching a whole host of content from our UHD Blu-ray players and Xbox One X. High definition content was first up and our go-to disc of Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t put any strain on the Optoma in the best out of the box settings where things looked very good indeed with just a slight red push visible in some scenes and with some skin tones. Sharpness was excellent and detail was clear without and edge enhancement or ringing to fine edges. We didn’t notice any noise in the image or posterisation in colours or skies and motion with 24fps material was excellent without the need for PureMotion. We also watched some HD content from Netflix and Now TV that is more compressed and had a few issues with the source material, but overall we didn’t have any major issues with the UHZ65 and its image processing or performance. It was usually an issue with a bad source than anything the projector was introducing. Even our favourite apes swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes looked very good with excellent green performance with the moss and tree bark, which is usually an issue for DLP projectors. So far so good and we haven’t even mentioned the usual issue for 4K DLP projectors – black levels and shadow detail retrieval. Well on the UHZ65 they are pretty good by DLP standards and while still some way from the likes of the JVC X7000 reference projector we use here, we were impressed with the decent performance in our bat cave room with nice deep blacks that weren’t light grey all the time. Only in tough mixed contrast scenes did the black floor rise quite a bit and become a wash out. Shadow detail is also pretty good, but still an overall weak point of the technology in bat cave surroundings. Details are not there in the lower reaches of the image and it all becomes one large area of black with no definition. Again this is the technology and not specifically this projector.

    Moving to 4K UHD HDR material and we were again pleasantly surprised with the jump in quality over the other 4K DLP projectors we have reviewed recently. Dynamic range is good with solid blacks that are a good depth of black for much of our viewing and only suffering the same issues with washout on tricky scenes. One obvious scene for this is the title sequence of Lost in Space where as the screen becomes a star field and as the text starts to appear the image gets brighter and washed out, as it becomes too difficult for the projector to manage with it’s limited blacks and above black performance. However it soon reverts to providing a decent dynamic range to the rest of the show, so it really is just the more difficult mixed scenes or movies where it will struggle in such an environment. Indeed switch it out to a more light coloured home cinema room with some ambient light or reflected light and the raised black floor of the room will really suit this projectors overall image performance.

    HDR images do look nice and before we get on to the real positives with the UHZ65 it would be wrong of me to avoid the issue of rainbow effect. This is were some viewers will see strips of red, green or blue or a mixture of these against high contrast edges of objects within some scenes. I am quite prone to seeing this effect although it does vary from person to person on how susceptible you are to noticing this. On older model DLP projectors of a decade ago I found most of them unwatchable due to the issue, but as resolution and colour wheel technology has improved, the instances of seeing it have also diminished. With todays 6 speed RGBRGB colour wheels I hardly notice rainbow effect unless I go looking for it, or it is a very high contrast scene and I move my head. With the UHZ65 (which uses a RGBY colour wheel) in HDR image modes I did notice rainbow effect on a more regular basis than normal. It is obviously impossible to translate that to how much you would see by watching the UHZ65, but if you have noticed it in the past you should perhaps get a demo of the Optoma before taking the plunge, just to be certain it won’t be an issue for you personally. I didn’t find this to be a deal breaker for me personally as it wasn’t overly annoying or distracting in the instances that I did notice it, and it was far removed from the days of feeling nauseous watching a DLP machine.

    So back to the 4K HDR image quality and I almost finished the entire series of Lost in Space in the UHZ65 and didn’t at any point wish I had waited until I could use the reference JVC we have here instead. Colours were very good indeed with actual on screen materials and not just looking at the graph results. Skin tones for the most looked natural with just a slight hint of push now and again, but that is me being reviewer picky, I think most users wouldn’t notice this as an issue. Blacks were very good and only in a cave scene did the lack of shadow detail cause larger areas of black to look like one solid lump. A few raised black floor scenes also popped up now and again, but for a 4K DLP unit compared to those we have already tested, this was leaps and bounds ahead of the pack in this regard. Moving to 4K UHD Blu-ray was also interesting but also raised some issues not seen with the streaming HDR content. Our new favourite test disc is Blade Runner 2049 with its sumptuous Oscar-winning visuals and testing scenes for displays. We immediately went to ‘new’ Vegas and the orange, red fog that is really quite challenging to show in the correct hues, but without gradation issues of posterisation. Sadly the Optoma failed this test with some obvious posterisation issues around the light source (hidden sun) and within the slight hue changes of the fog. This was also noticeable in high contrast backgrounds such as the dream makers’ scene with K. We double checked our sources and used three 4K UHD players all set up correctly to feed the Optoma, but it is an image processing issue on the UHZ65 and not the source this time. However for the most part we didn’t notice much else wrong with the image quality with excellent colour performance (despite a restricted gamut) that is the best we have seen so far from a 4K DLP machine. The scene with Wallace and Decker chatting within the interrogation room, with its shadows and water rippled yellowy orange light also held up well. The tone mapping used by Optoma does tend to pull up the darker areas of the image and where the faces should go to silhouette now and again, they are a tad brighter than they should be and washed out, slightly. But the rest of the scene looks sublime with a nice dynamic pop and ultra sharp edges and dripping with detail from the pores on each of the faces in the scene. The UHZ65 can produce some really nice looking images.

    To date this is the best 4K DLP projector we have seen

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Good out of the box image quality
    • Excellent calibrated image quality for SDR
    • HDR images are very good for a DLP projector
    • Images are sharp and detailed
    • Good wide colour performance for a DLP projector
    • Decent black levels compared to other 4K DLP machines
    • Instant on/off capability

    Cons

    • Still struggles with shadow detail and blacks can't match similar priced bulb projectors from JVC and Epson
    • Posterisation seen in some 4K UHD HDR content
    • Rainbow effect more noticeable with HDR images (for some users)
    • Noisy in brighter modes
    You own this Total 2
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Optoma UHZ65 Projector Review

    If we look at the Optoma against the existing 4K DLP projectors on the market then it is clearly the best we have seen to date, given the improved black levels and colour gamut. Where the rest are Rec.709 HD colour the Optoma does manage to get close to 80% of DCI-P3 and due to using a laser as the light source the colours are nicely realised. There are still hue errors in the tracking that gives a slight red push and some skin tones can look slightly rosy, but overall this is the best 4K DLP we have seen yet and it bodes well for the technology in the near future. The other strength of DLP is brightness and the UHZ65 is an excellent choice for a normal living room environment with light coloured surfaces and some ambient light spill (just not directly on screen). In such surroundings the raised black floor of the room suits the picture attributes on offer and the Optoma will look dynamic and colourful, with incredibly sharp images. Used in this scenario it comes with our recommendation.

    What are my alternatives?

    However if you want deep blacks, excellent above black shadow detail and full DCI-P3 wide colour coverage you are looking at the bulb based JVC DLA-X7900 and either the Epson TW9300 bulb or Epson TW10500 laser projector. All of these are around the same price as the Optoma and in dedicated cinema rooms with dark coloured surroundings and complete light control they out-perform the 4K DLP projectors by some margin. But again the context is the viewing environment in question and what suits such circumstances. Put these three projectors in a light coloured room with some ambient light and you will lose their USP of deep blacks and shadows as the room black floor is too high (too much reflected light) and washes those USPs away. So you need to think carefully about what you need and which projector will suit you, as not all are made equal and there is no one perfect display out there.


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £4,999.00

    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

    8

    Colour Accuracy

    8

    Greyscale Accuracy

    8

    Video Processing

    8

    Image Uniformity

    8

    2D Picture Quality

    8

    Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

    7

    Picture Quality Calibrated

    8

    Features

    8

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Build Quality

    7

    Value For Money

    6

    Verdict

    8

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