Quietly under the radar, the electronics company Optoma has been turning out some nice and affordable projectors the past couple of years. Some of these products include the GT1080DARBEE and the UHD65 4K projectors.
Arguably, the most symbolic of the company’s efforts to deliver value-minded, quality home theater and multimedia video products is its latest product: the UHZ65 4K laser projector.
Laser-based projectors are the hot product in the commercial video market because the products deliver high lumen levels, rich colors and low-maintenance requirements.
Initially, when laser products entered the consumer market, they were perched at the very top end of the market. Today, through Optoma, low-maintenance yet high-lumen laser products are now available to a larger audience due in part to the $4,500 price point of the UltraHD 4K UHZ65.
Taking a closer look at the UHZ65, this is a product that integrators can present to clients as a step-up solution without blowing up their A/V system budgets.
Optoma UHZ65 Features & Setup
The competitively priced UHZ65 is a Texas Instruments (TI) DLP-based UltraHD 4K projector that produces a resolution of 3840 x 2160.
Optoma explains the DLP UHD chipset employs TI’s high-performance DMD technologies with XPR video processing with fast switching to reproduce 8.3 million distinct pixels. Optoma emphasizes the TI UHD chipset meets the Consumer Technology Association’s 4K UHD 2160p specification.
- UHZ65 provides a native 3840 x 2160 resolution
- Laser-phosphor light engine minimizes maintenance, delivers up to 20,000 hours of lamp life
- Optoma UHZ65 produces up to 3,000 lumens and contrast ratios as high as 2,000,000:1
- Multiple HDMI inputs, VGA input, SPDIF out, audio-in (3.5mm), audio out
- Control options with choice of RJ-45 and RS-232
- HDR support for HDR10, and compatible with the Rec. 709, Rec.2020 and DCI-P3 color gamuts
Through its laser-phosphor light engine, the UHZ65 is able to produce up to 3,000 lumens while providing up to 20,000 hours of operational life.
According to Optoma, the projector also produces contrast levels as high as 2,000,000:1 with “dynamic black” engaged. The projector is also capable of reproducing the Rec.709, Rec.2020 and DCI-P3 color gamuts.
The UHZ65 also employs PureEngine’s PureMotion technology to minimize image noise, motion noise and judder in fast-motion video.
Other options include a choice of 16:9 native, 4:3 auto, and letterbox aspect ratios, and a choice of inputs that include two HDMI inputs (one with HDCP 2.2, MHL 2.1 and 18Gbps compatibility), VGA-in, audio-in (3.5mm), audio out, SDPIF out, and a USB 2.0 service port.
Aiding the projector’s integration into a third-party control system is the choice of RJ-45 and RS-232.
Setting up the UHZ65 in my system was pretty easy. After unboxing the projector I found the UHZ65’s size and weight easy to manage. Lifting the rectangular shaped UHZ65 onto my projector shelf I took a FIBBR fiber HDMI cable run from an Integra receiver and plugged it into HDMI input 2.
Once I plugged it in, I set the geometry and made some basic settings adjustments (I later fined tuned my adjustments).
I will point out that while easy in my media room, the UHZ65 could be a bit lean on the installation options. It offers basic lens shift, focus and keystone options, but I suspect that in order to help keep the price point reasonable Optoma omitted broad image adjustment options.
Overall though, the UHZ65 should install quickly in most home environments, and because of its laser-based light engine its lumen capabilities make it a great option for rooms with ambient light.
Optoma UHZ65 Performance & Conclusions
After my initial setup I was quite impressed. I checked my first sources and the projector indicated I was watching 1080p content. I found the production of 1080p to offer rich colors and lots of perceived dynamics. What I mean by this is that while the Optoma did not deliver the deepest blacks I’ve ever seen, the contrast levels were outstanding. The sum of the picture with its rich, vivid colors and wide dynamics looked excellent in conjunction with a 100-inch 16:9 Stewart Filmscreen Phantom HALR screen.
Turning the lights on, the combination of the 3,000-lumen Optoma UHZ65 and Stewart Phantom HALR screen produced very minimal negative effects from ambient light.
Using the projector with the lights on and the lights off, I think Optoma did a good job of optimizing the light output of the projector. I’m sure they could have pushed more lumens from the UHZ’s light engine if they wanted, but I am guessing that through a pragmatic approach the company found its light output sufficient for a variety of screen materials, including ambient light rejecting (ALR) products like the Phantom HALR, as well as more traditional white and gray screens.
If Optoma added more lumens to the UHZ65’s output, I think they may have eliminated the use of ALR screens due to the possibility of developing a “sparkle effect” between its projector and those screen types.
In terms of figuring out where the UHZ65 fits into the market, I think it jumps to the top of the pack in terms of value. Its DLP UHD chipset delivers nice amounts of detail, and the low cost of ownership of a laser-phosphor light engine(which also produces nice lumen levels) has to be considered against traditional bulb-based products.
Where I really saw the Optoma's value was when switching over to 4K content using my Apple TV and UltraHD Blu-ray player.
UltraHD Blu-rays offer the best possible source content, and a film like Cars 3 looked spectacular. Colors were rich and inky like old-school CRT products, and had plenty of color detail. For example, in Lightning McQueen’s red finish I could see the fiberglass texture on his fenders, as well as the seams between panel quarters on the fictional racecar. Lightning also sparkled with metal flake, and I could see specs of dirt on the raceway track.
Sports fans won’t be disappointed with the projector either. The Optoma’s processing easily keeps up with the action of NHL hockey and NFL football from my local teams the Bruins and Patriots.
Moreover, the UHZ65 also allowed me to see the increasing visual quality of each Harry Potter Ultra Blu-ray release from the franchises’ first four titles.
I wasn’t able to compare a pixel-shifting product with the Optoma DLP-based product, but I would have to say memory tells me the Optoma produces more detail and resolution than a pixel-shifting 4K projector for about the same money.
Optoma deserves a—and I am not understating this— ton of credit for developing and delivering a laser-based 4K projector with HDR compatibility at a reasonable price point. I would guess that competitors have noticed, and will ratchet up the performance stakes, and the winners of this competition will be the public.
For now, Optoma has a decided edge with its UHZ65, and while not perfect, I think Optoma pretty much nailed it with the launch of the UHZ65, which checks so many boxes in the column of “must have” when it comes to projector features and performance.
Suggested price for the Optoma UHZ65 is $4,500.
CE Pro Verdict:
Nice footprint, the UHZ65 doesn’t take up too much space
Brightness levels allow its use in ambient light environments
Rich colors, smooth 4K images
More HDR options would be great
Lens shift options may be somewhat limiting for some install scenarios