What is the Optoma UHD65?
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 Control
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Review
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.
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