Whether you like to duck, shoot, slide or jump, gaming is always better if it’s immersive and nothing makes a bigger impact than going big! Although projectors have historically been outcasts in the dens of gaming Gods, recent advancements in resolution and response times have improved their street cred. Optoma’s UHD33 is aimed squarely at the consumer that loves gaming, likes movies but doesn’t like a dingy den. Hence, its spec sheet reads 3600 ANSI lumens that hint at its ability to entertain house guests or fellow gamers without making them feel like they’re in a cult. You could keep the drapes open, (most) house lights on and still game without the fear of spilling drinks all over the place.
Fast and furious
But that’s not even the USP of the Optoma UHD33, no sir. What gives it real gaming gravitas is its ability to project a 1080p picture with a 240Hz refresh rate, the all-important metric that gamers live and die by, literally! Now, since the UHD33 is also a 4K certified projector, it can pixel-shift its way to 8.3 million pixels if you want 4K resolution for movies, but if you want the maximum speed for gaming, it stops the pixels from shifting around and instead just multiplies their usual refresh rate of 60Hz by four times and gives us the claimed 240Hz magic number.
Both the HDMI 2.0 inputs on the UHD33 can avail of this feature, but of course, different sources, cables and any AV receivers in the chain can rob you of this little joy. Ensure you have the right settings enabled on your gaming PC, get a high-speed cable and ideally, connect the PC straight to the UHD33 without an AVR in the path. We used an HP Omen gaming laptop for this test that uses an Nvidia RTX2080 (Max-Q) graphics card, Intel i9 CPU with 16GB RAM, all of which sells for close to ₹2,40,000. Taking a moment to set the right parameters in the Nvidia Control Panel and even the native Windows Display Panel are the first steps to get the right resolution at the right refresh rate that you’re aiming for.
But it’s not all geared towards the gamers only. The UHD33, with its HDR10 support, 8-segment colour wheel (RGBWRGBW), Rec709 colour space coverage and a whole host of colour management options, is also adept at displaying movies in all their glory. There’s a built-in speaker too for occasional gaming or TV shows, but it’s not going to be a replacement for a soundbar or a surround sound system. The compact dimensions of the UHD33 work to its advantage and make it easy to install, especially with keystone adjustments and a sharp, well-focused image even when you go up to 150in. A word of caution though, the keystone adjustment is deactivated when you turn on the Enhanced Gaming Mode, so if you have a fixed projector mount or lift that works well for movies, it may not work during gaming. The UHD33 will have to be kept slap bang in the middle of the projector screen if you want to avoid playing on a trapezoidal screen. There’s no lens shift to help you out either.
Once up and running, the UHD33 proved to be an impressive machine for its price. One of my favourite tests for colour accuracy and consistency is Ted Lasso on Apple TV+, shot in HDR and 4K, it manages to use the primary colours well to depict the locker rooms, player jerseys and stadium seats against the lush green of the football field. Clarity is exceptional and even the colours are punchy whilst maintaining accuracy in skin tones. Optoma manages HDR well and on the UHD33, the HDR mode really helps to bring out finer details in the highlights. It does require expert calibration though, or else the stock image in factory mode can have a greenish tinge and overblown brightness. Contrast levels, even on Netflix’s Lupin were above average and the overall image balance doesn’t seem to be affected much even with ambient lights on, attributed to the high brightness lamp.
Gaming in ‘Enhanced’ Mode brings down the latency to 4.2ms and ups the refresh rate to 240Hz, but drops resolution to 1080p. While all the permutations and combinations might seem daunting, it really depends on the kind of game you’re playing and how serious you are about them. Dirt 5 makes for a great arcade game that could be fun if paired with a Logitech Wheel and pedals to get an immersive experience on this projector. Since it’s a fast and fluid game, the 240Hz scan rate makes for a smoother overall experience, especially in relation to other cars around you. Valorant is a competitive shooter that’s perfect to test the high refresh rate and low response time of the projector and the UHD33 excels in both aspects giving it the edge over monitors, unless you’re in the final stages of an e-Sport championship game.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on the other hand needs the maximum resolution to do justice to its high graphical settings and immersive story with big-budget audio and visual quality. Hence, reverting to 4K settings yielded a richer image. Eventually, it will boil down to your personal preference, gaming hardware and the requirement of the game itself, but it’s comforting to know that the UHD33 has the gaming chops to keep up with the monitors.
Regardless of the operation mode, the internal fan never got loud enough to be a bother, even though it was installed right behind the primary viewing position. Bright setting on the lamp will trigger off the fan more often, as expected but even within its light and open chassis, Optoma has done a fine job of calibrating the speed. Its remote control too, like most modern Optomas, has a bright backlight for each key and is awash with hotkeys for almost every major function, making it easy to make quick changes. If you want different flavours, there’s also support for 21:9 aspect ratio and 3D, if you have the requisite glasses.
Within its unassuming exterior, the Optoma UHD33 packs in quite a punch, doing almost everything it’s designed to, pretty well. Although its target audience is the gamer seeking big-screen adventures, even for 4K movies with a splash of HDR and everyday soap watching, its performance is solid for the price. A bright, well-saturated picture with smooth motion and minimal input lag, it ticks all the right boxes for bringing home big-screen 4K thrills on a budget.