Optoma UHD65 4K Home Theater Projector Review

Optoma’s new UHD65 home theater projector, is one of two new models sporting the first Texas Instruments 4K UHD chip, and targeting home users.  The UHD65 has a list price of only $2499!   Tdhere’s also a home entertainment version – the UHD60  at $1999. More on those differences below.

No matter where you are in the “FauxK vs 4K” debate, one thing is for sure:  The UHD65 produces a visibly slightly sharper image at $2499, than any 1080p projectors we’ve seen. It doesn’t matter if those 1080p projectors are pixel shifters or not.

Without a doubt, the sharpness of the image is the highlight feature of the UHD65.  Well, one of them. The other is that it accepts 4K content – including content using HDR (high dynamic range).

UHD65_4K_ghostbusters_mercado

The Optoma UHD65 projector handling a daytime scene from Ghostbusters 2016, 4K content

What Optoma has done, as the largest seller of DLP projectors in the US, is to get people spending under $2500 to consider DLP, for the higher than 1080p (1920×1080) native resolution of 2716×1528 of the first consumer 4K UHD chip.

Optoma UHD65 Projector - Overview

As we see it the competition comes in multiple flavors – there are both 1080p projectors with, and without pixel shifting, at that price point, and there should be at least one, possibly two other DLP projector manufacturers, that will offer up competition using the same TI chip set.

That’s all the good news.  From a moving to 4K standpoint, there’s one piece of the puzzle missing, and that relates to BT2020 color – which simply provides richer, more intense colors than the REC 709 standard we’ve enjoyed all these years for HDTV and Blu-ray movies. Just remember, almost all Blu-ray UHD movies support not only 4K, and HDR, but also that expanded color space of BT2020, or the more practical, obtainable P3 “subset”.

Optoma claims in their brochure and in talking with their folks, to support the richer color standard widely used in 4K content and known as BT.2020 (with qualification -sometimes described as DCI – P3).  The wider color gamut makes a huge difference.  Most projectors that try to support BT2020 come up way short.  We’ll discuss how well the UHD65 does, it’s particularly challenging for lamp based projectors of which the Optoma is one.  Still we’ve seen some excellent results from Sony, JVC and Epson 4K capable lamp based projectors, this is the first of the affordable 4K capable DLP projectors.

I’ve talked with the DLP projector manufacturers talk about how close they are getting to achieving BT.2020, or P3 within that.  So far they aren’t claiming to get as close to achieving BT.2020 as the other technologies, but that is likely in part, because can’t match the color intensity, that’s fair enough – after all, this is the first generation for 4K UHD projectors, and it’s aggressively priced.

Keeping things straight when it comes to resolution

One more thought before we get into more of an overview of the projector itself:  Just keep in mind, that 2716×1528 is still a far cry from true 4K (either 3840×2160, or true DCI 4K which is 4096×2160, – note that the difference is in aspect ratio, rather than any real difference resolution). Pixel shifting helps, just as it helps the 1080p pixel shifters look sharper than standard 1080p projectors.  Appreciate the Optoma for the sharpness it delivers, which is most impressive.  Don’t fall, however for the 4K UHD hype.  Manufacturers tend to want to let readers “assume” it’s true 4K, and regularly use terms like 4K processing, 4K Enhancement, etc.  In fact most brochures today of 4K UHD projectors proclaim 3840×2160 Resolution, but typically fail to remind us that the size of their pixels is double the area of true 4K pixels, and you just can’t get as sharp an image when the pixels are relatively “huge.”  Roughly speaking, if a true 4K projector’s pixels were the size of a nickel,then this projector’s would be about the size of a quarter.

That’s marketing folks, skip the hype, instead concentrate on the fact that this is a $2500 projector with sharpness we’ve never seen so good without spending $8000 list price for the lowest cost Sony true 4K.  As to the rest of the feature set, picture quality and performance – we’ll get to that.  That’s why our reviews are long, and we like to take lots of pictures of the projector in action!

UHD65

The big feature of the UHD65 is, I repeat, the higher pixel density DLP chip, that meets the 4K UHD standard (which is a half magnitude lower than the 4K standard).  After that, very important is the support for HDR – High Dynamic Range, the rest of this Optoma is a pretty typical home projector.   Lens functions are manual zoom and focus.  Plus, there’s vertical lens shift as well.  It’s a modest amount, allowing only about a foot maximum of placement flexibility, but still can be most helpful in determining best placement of the projector.

I mentioned the lower cost UHD60 above.  Let’s take a moment to define the difference between the two, (besides the lower $1999 price of the UHD60).  These are essentially the same projector with the same feature set, the primary difference is the color filter wheel.  Whereas the UHD65 (for a DLP) uses an RGBRGB color wheel, the UHD60 uses a different configuration with a large clear slice.  This is typical of home entertainment projectors vs. home theater ones.

That clear slice provides a lot more white lumens, (but less color ones), with the idea being that as a home entertainment projector, the UHD60 needs the extra lumens, at the expense of color saturation.  (Whether there’s a real benefit in there (other than a higher claimed spec, we’ll discuss elsewhere in this review.

In theory, if you have a well suited viewing room, you want to spend the extra for the UHD65.  If you are going for “bright room” use, then the 60 may make more sense and saves you more dollars at the same time.

Optoma UHD65 Highlights

  • Accepts 4K content with HDR
  • 2200 lumens
  • Nicely quiet (-28 db at full power)
  • 2716×1528 pixel DLP chip (with pixel shifting) provides higher resolution than 1080p pixel shifting projectors
  • Pixel shifting allows each pixel to fire twice, for 8.3 million pixels meeting the 4K UHD standard (which doesn’t specify how large each pixel can be)
  • 1.6:1 zoom lens and modest lens shift for good placement flexibility
  • RGBRGB Color wheel
  • A pair of 4 watt speakers for more portable use, some streaming
  • Multiple HDR settings
  • Creative Frame Interpolation (CFI) for smooth motion
  • Uses lamp dimming to improve black level performance
  • MHL on one of the HDMI ports, for working with mobile devices, streaming sticks
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News And Comments

  • Jay Patel

    I currently have a JVC 4K e-shift projector. I do have a 4K UHD Blu-ray player. Would it be an upgrade for me to switch to this projector? Would native 1080i and 1080p content look better on this projector than my current projector?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Overall, the Optoma won’t be a match for your JVC, no matter which one. No contest in black levels (a massive understatement). You would get a slightly sharper image, but assuming yours is new enough that it handles HDR, the Optoma won’t match the HDR or color space abilities of the JVC either.

      Other than the slight sharpness boost, I’d say you would be taking a significant step backwards… And if you like 3D, you would lose that ability too. -art

      • Jay Patel

        Thanks Art! Very helpful. My JVC does not have HDR for what it’s worth.

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          Hi Jay, Ok, understood. Still, I fear that one of these first gen 4K UHD DLP’s will leave you feeling like in some ways (black levels) you just moved down the food chain – significantly! -art

  • Vasu Pachamuthu

    is it 3d compatible?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      No, neither the UHD65 nor the UHD60 support 3D – unfortunately! -art

  • Dewitt

    Considering the other professional reviews out at this point on this projector and its HDR presentation, Im wondering how much Epson is kicking your way these days?

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Glad you asked. Nothing special, but they did provide sandwiches the last time I was up there. Epson advertises with us typically 4-5 months a year. Optoma is a year round advertiser. Neither is currently one of our top advertisers.
      Why do you ask? I can tell you that Epson does win more awards on our site than anyone else, but if you think it’s because they advertise with us, then consider JVC – who is 2nd in all time awards and who only ever advertised with us for one 3 month period about a decade ago. On the other hand, Epson does so well for the same reason that they have about 7 times the market share of the #2 seller in the US (Optoma), with over 50% of the market, despite all the big name competition. Also because they offer more total projectors, and they have projectors in every segment but pico projectors, which no one else can claim.

      As to the projector itself, the 5040UB, I’ve got one here right now. It’s looking awfully good, after our most recent attempt to calibrate it. I have been following the AVforums and the folks calibrating it, many with different levels of success. But, I am pleased to report that we’re finally pleased with the recent calibration in terms of both HDR and BT.2020 / P3. In our original review were weren’t happy at all with the HDR, etc. everything way too dark. Replacing the Samsung helped, but not enough. Currently we’re using HDR1, and significantly adjusting contrast, etc, so as to not crush the near whites which was the primary problem with HDR1 – which is not near as dim as the HDR2 (HDR10). -art

      • Dewitt

        Hey Art,

        I was more comparing it with a price rival, which would be the HC
        4000 not the 5040.

        Be that as it may, its common knowledge you prefer the 3LCD picture to DLP, which is perhaps the disconnect.

        Here is an excerpt from Techradar.com concerning the HDR picture on the Optoma.

        “It feels to me as if the UHD60 may be ‘cheating’ slightly to achieve its unexpectedly good HDR images, maybe by raising the baseline brightness level higher than it should be if it was really serious about reproducing as wide a sense of possible of the HDR image’s full luminance range. But if we’re right about this then Optoma has made 100% the right decision, as its HDR images are far more engaging and natural looking (ironically) than those of almost all remotely affordable HDR projector rivals. ”

        So using HDR as a major demerit when comparing to the HC4000 seems either fishy, or VERY subjective if you ask me.

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          Hi Dewitt, two things. First of all, I reviewed the HC4000 before I got my hands on the UHD65. I don’t think the issue is DLP vs LCD or LCoS, other than I’m rainbow sensitive. I’ve owned three different DLP projectors over the last fifteen years, but they were all back before 2009. Once Epson and Sanyo, and Panasonic, etc. introduced dynamic irises, that leveled the playing field, in terms of each having strengths, and weaknesses, without, the dynamic iris, the 3LCDs just couldn’t do acceptable black levels, aka very dark scenes.
          No question about the UHD65’s sharpness, the combination of single chip design a great advantage in sharpness, but requires a pesky color wheel), easily bests the HC4000 or HC5040UB, but don’t buy the argument that just because one association supports and calls any projector with 8.3 million pixels, whether overlapping or not, as 4K (4K UHD, to be specific), these 4K UHDs still can’t match a true 4K projector like any of those expensive Sonys, or the top of the line JVC. Too bad none are in our price range.

          I do like the UHD65, it’s rougher around the edges than the Epson, and far less feature equipped, but for me, I wouldn’t personally opt for the HC4000 – the 5040UB is the machine to own, and easily worth the difference based on my biases, which have always been explained in my reviews. I haven’t played with the UHD60, which uses more of a business color wheel than the home theater one the UHD65 uses, but I’d favor the UHD65 over the 60 even in brighter room conditions, assuming the 60 tests about the same as a percentage of claim as the 65. I’ve requested, just the other day, a loan of the UHD60 for the upcoming comparison. From the techie side, Eric my calibrator, could not get the UHD65 to stop clipping (crushing) near whites).

          The comparison report will be part of my annual Best HT Projectors report. It’s due out end of month. There are always trade-offs. BTW as far as TechRadar, I don’t know their reviewers, but I see that in the last year, only one person (Steve May) has reviewed more than two projectors, and most that they do review, are under $1000. Their best projector in their Best projectors list (Sony VW300ES) is two generations old with no HDR, (2015 review), and the Epson they have listed was replaced last year with one that does HDR, etc. I may check out their UHD60 review, after I get one here, but, no offense to them, but they are talking about a great implementation of HDR, yet it seems they may only have ever reviewed one projector capable of 4K HDR content – the UHD60? Strange.
          No matter, I don’t read other’s reviews before I post my own of any given projector. -art

          • Dewitt

            Well written and thought our response. I do see clear advantages in the 4000 let alone 5040…(color range and goodies like lens memory…greater lens shift ECT…. but between tech radar…and some side by sides unfortunately don’t have an option of posting (same frame…hdr on vs off) the optoma…while certainly “cheating” to acheive their image as tech radar said… and you alluded to in your review of it’s HDR….. certainly looks pretty darn good to me next to sdr on the same frame….if one is indeed impressed with it’s interpretation of HDR…and is getting a sharper image….and isn’t using anything other than a 16:9 ratio…. could you see the optoma being the better choice for some? I’m more focused on the 60 which comes in quite a bit under the 5040…. which I’d buy for the blacks alone if I could do closer to 3 grand

          • Dewitt

            And just for reference my current projector I’m looking to upgrade is the Epson 3500.

          • ProjectorReviews.com

            Hi Dewitt, We’re on the same page – there are always trade-offs. I would like to see the UHD60 vs the HC4000, and I hope to have that chance shortly. Every reviewer has their biases, and should reveal them to their readers. Mine are obvious to our regulars. I value great black levels as the most important first thing, and the HC4000 and UHD65 come up a bit short. As I like to say, once you achieve what I call “ultra high contrast” blacks (which are based on viewing, not all the bogus numbers that manufacturers claim) – and also how well a dynamic iris works. In the past, for example, I’ve found many Optoma attempts at dynamic iris (using lamp dimming, instead of an iris) to be slow and painful to watch on some scenes. But the UHD65 did pretty good by limiting how much it attempts.

            As to wide screen – lens memory, etc. That’s personal. I love my sports, but want my largest image for movie viewing so I’m a big fan of Lens Memory, but perhaps only 10%+ of “serious” home theaters go that route. (Probably more would if more projectors supported lens memory.)

            My final test for you is a seemingly easy question – whether to go UHD60, HC4000, or hold off until you find that extra $400-$500 for the 65 or 5040UB –

            Ask yourself how you think you’ll feel about the choice you make today, 6 to 12 months down the line. Will you be happy you saved some money (stuck to your budget), and like your Optoma or Epson pick, or whether you should hold off, for perhaps a slightly lower price, or more money available, and more importantly, if you buy today, which one do you think will give you greater happyness down the road (or less regrets). For me, my answer normally ends up being about black level performance. Sharpness I’m big on too, but for example, the extra sharpness for me, of the UHD65, pales in importance next to the black level difference.

            Finally, for me, when I watch sports – especially football – where every sunday I’ve got 8 games on the screen at once – across a 124” diagonal, using DirecTv’s Game mix, I crank up the Epson’s Image enhancement, etc. I end up with more noise, but I can oversharpen the image to the point where it looks razor sharp. By comparison, I would never crank up sharpness functions that much when movie watching.

            OK, back to work for me… Got two reviews I must finish… and a big report to write, and two weeks to get it all done. Good hunting – let me know what you finally go with, and (a few weeks later – your impressions) – Our readers would like that. -art

  • aksdad

    The image projected by the UHD65 is not “a far cry from true 4K”, it IS true 4K. The TI chip in the UHD65 is producing an image of 3840 by 2160 discrete pixels. It is not “4K UHD hype”. The fact that it’s using a 2716×1528 pixel chip to generate the image is beside the point. What you see on screen are over 8 million individual pixels forming a true 4K image.

    The pixel-shift technology on LCD projectors from Epson and JVC use three 1920×1080 LCD panels pixel-shifted to display an image that is noticeably sharper than HD (1920×1080) but not actually 4K. There are limitations due to the slow response time of LCDs and the fact that there are three of them involved.

    Because the technology in a DLP chip is much different and the micro-mirrors on the chip can switch about a thousand times faster than an LCD, it is possible to pixel-shift the image to create visibly discrete sub-pixels. TI demonstrated this at CEDIA 2015. Detail in still images was dramatically sharper than the LCD pixel-shift projectors and even (subjectively) slightly sharper than the Sony projector which used “native” 4K SXRD chips; likely due to the common misalignment problems inherent in 3-chip projectors like the Sony.

    Barco, a manufacturer of top-quality and very expensive digital cinema projectors, explains the technology in this white paper.

    http://cineramax.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/BARCO-whitepaper-4K-UHD.pdf