Projectors have had a dream run off late, thanks to global lockdowns and more HT consumers realizing that a cinema outing could still be a pipe dream. Even when commercial cinemas do open up, there is a big question mark on the perceived safety norms and possible risk of exposure. All things considered, projectors are the next best thing at home and since there has been an explosion of 4K content so easily available, 4K projectors are all the rage. The Optoma UHZ65LV that we have on test today manages to garner the 4K certification but not via a native 4K chip but rather a mix of a new 0.66in Texas Instruments chip (that offers higher-than-HD resolution) and clever pixel shifting that eventually sprays your screen with the requisite 8.3 million pixels required to make a 4K picture. Don’t let this throw you off course though in your search for a 4K projector, because pixel shifting, if done well comes remarkably close to native 4K projectors at a much lower cost and unless you’re running an underground PubG battleground where you need multiple screens installed side-by-side, you’ll be hard-pressed to even tell the difference.
All the basics
The UHZ65LV bears the typical DNA of Optoma projectors with a sharp look that does draw attention. The centrally mounted lens offers a vertical lens shift of 15 degrees but not horizontal. A flap on the top panel opens up to reveal the knob, along with navigation controls. Focus is manual and managed by the outer ring of the lens housing and although a motorized focus would’ve been great at this price, it’s still an easy enough install. Just bear in mind that the throw angle is offset vertically so you will have to position the Optoma accordingly for height, in relation to your screen. Since there is no keystone correction available, getting the correct mounting spot might be easier if you don’t already have a fixed position for a projector mount. Once installed, the set-up interface couldn’t be any more basic, but that doesn’t mean it lacks features. Plenty of image tweaking options in the form of HDR intensity, Gamma levels, colour bias/gain and Optoma’s own set of enhancements under the Ultra Detail and Pure Engine processing suite. Image menus. There’s also 3D on offer but only with a specific set of glasses that aren’t included in the box and also because it's 2021, this might not be a ‘buy it or chuck it’ feature. Connectivity is adequate with two HDMI inputs, one supporting HDMI 2.0, usual audio in/out, RS-232 and ethernet, powered USB to connect an Amazon Fire Stick with power for instance and an optical. There’s also a 5W speaker on-board but it’s more of a squeaker, to be honest, sounding shrill, unintelligible and prone to rattling the enclosure if you pump it up.
Bright and punchy
Playing Blu-rays or OTT 4K content, the Optoma UHZ65LV showcases one quality without flinching - contrast. The 5000 ANSI lumens of brightness preserves extremely bright highlights but also extracts a good amount of black depth and shadow detail. There are enough image tweaking options to ensure you get the kind of picture you want, accurate or not. That’s where things get a bit tricky. While the sharpness, contrast and even the motion processing is ace, colours don’t always remain true to the director’s vision. Its implementation of HDR is better than many other projectors in terms of richness of colours but its rendition of reds is far from accurate. The Netflix startup logo is a great test for red saturation as it is an element we are all too familiar with, on various kinds of displays, and on the Optoma, it just doesn’t achieve that full-saturated red hue. Instead, even after extensive image manipulation, it appeared to have an orange tint to it. On the spec sheet, the UHZ65LV covers only 75% of the DCI P3 colour space and although specs shouldn’t be a measure for the actual video performance, perhaps it is an indication. Thankfully, once you get beyond references, the UHZ65LV shines bright with a picture that is captivating with its smooth motion and superb sharpness. Compared to an LCD-based projector, it’s not as cinematic looking but its inherent digitized nature is punchier and, well, just different. Jumping from Army of the Dead on Netflix to Kong: Skull Island on Blu-ray, there was an accomplished sense of ease in the way the Optoma went about its business. Ultra Detail aims to add more clarity and detail but by simply sharpening the edges, which also induces a moire effect, so is best left at 0. In fact, even the regular sharpness control is best left at its lowest setting of 1, the lens doing a pretty good job of locking focus from edge-to-edge. As long as you use the image enhancements sparingly, the Optoma is capable of a fine picture. You’re never left wanting for more contrast or more brightness and colours have a pleasant saturation to them that justifies its HDR credentials. Overcook it though and you’re quickly in muddy waters, so spending time getting it right is highly recommended.
Up in arms
The remote has the brightest backlight of any product in recent memory and also comes with a few customizable keys that allow you to jump straight to an often-used control, whether it’s HDR mode, contrast or whatever you deem as important. Getting a 200in image isn’t a challenge and most of all, the intrinsic benefits of a laser-based projector shine through effectively. Low noise, negligible heat and instant start-up times that don’t require the usual 2-3mins that a lamp-based projector would take to warm up and stabilize until you start seeing 100% colour accuracy. The high contrast/brightness also allows you to be a lot more liberal with the use of ambient lights in the viewing room without affecting the picture quality too much. But, considering all its pros, the biggest downside to the Optoma seems to be the ₹7.5 lac asking price. It competes with some distinguished competitors from Sony, JVC, Epson and even Benq’s laser 4K offering. One of its strengths, which is the high contrast, also robs it of the final degree of tonal evenness and fluidity that you get from the non-DLP, non-laser competitors. You have to put in the time and effort to get a good looking image from the Optoma UHZ65LV, so don’t expect plug and play greatness.