4K Projectors

There are 4K projectors, and then there are 4K Projectors – to paraphrase James Bond in Casino Royale. 

Sony's VPL-VW285ES is the first projector that offers true 4K resolution under $5000.
Sony’s VPL-VW285ES is the first true 4K projector under $5000

That is, some projectors have true 4K resolution while others can accept 4K content, and use techniques to get improved results out of lower resolution projectors

This section’s list of projectors includes both types, that is projectors with true 4K panels/chips therefore have either 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 resolution without any of that “pixel shifting”, and those accepting 4K content that are 1080p projectors, or 4K UHD projectors (which aren’t true 4K as I keep saying)  Both put content on the screen that is higher resolution than 2K or 1080p.  That means we are including projectors using pixel shifting, such as currently shipping JVC home theater projectors and Epson home theater, and business projectors.  And including the new class of projectors using the “above 2K” DLP chip, like those from Optoma and BenQ, referred to as 4K UHD – 2716x1528x2 resolution, but those use a 4.3 megapixel chip with pixel shifting, that meets the 4K UHD standard.

True 4K is at least 8.3 megapixels with no pixel overlapping.  These higher res 4K UHD chips are 4.15 megapixels but fire twice with the pixel shifting to deliver 8 megapixels. The newer lower res ones are 1920×1080 x 4 – Same native resolution as a 1080p projector but they pixel shift to hit the screen a total of 4 times to achieve the same 8.15 megapixels despite the much larger pixels. We reviewers would have been a lot happier, and consumers less confused if they weren’t called 4K UHD, but merely UHD projectors, as it’s definitely a bit misleading.  By comparison, pixel shifting 1080p projectors like the JVCs and Epsons only deliver 4.15 megapixels of data not 8.3, when pixel shifting, so they are 1920x1080x2 resolution.

I previewed one in the 4K UHD DLP prototype projectors in the DLP suite at the CES show, while Optoma showed one on the show floor, and BenQ announced one.  See my blog regarding the new chip.

The era of 4K projectors is really just getting going.  At the moment there are still only a few true 4K projectors and a number of other ones that can accept and process 4K content.

At this time (8/2018) there are four different classes – types of projectors claiming something of being 4K.

True 4K Projectors!  There are a few true 4K projectors, mostly Sonys, and many others which are lower native resolution, but use pixel shifting techniques, and there are already 2K (1080p) projectors using pixel shifting that can accept 4K content, including Epsons and JVCs

As of this time, only Sony is offering true 4K projectors for home (except for a $35,000 JVC.. while Sony and Canon and others have models shipping for business/education.  Note, most of the native 4K projectors useLCoS technology, but recently Epson, NEC and others have launched commercial models that are native 4K projectors. When we talk native, or true 4K, we’re talking having smallest sized pixels thus can provide maximum resolution.  And no overlapping pixels.  That’s still the highest resolution way to go, even if the differences in perceived sharpness between native 4K projectors and pixel shifters that start out with larger, and fewer pixels, can seem just as sharp, if you don’t sit really close.

4K Projectors

4K Projectors REVIEWS

ImageReview
JVC DLA-RS3000 First Look Review – With 8K Resolution JVC DLA-RS3000 First Look Review – With 8K Resolution
  • Review Date: October 9, 2018
  • MSRP: $17,999
  • Technology: D-ILA-3
LG HU80KA Review  – A Laser Powered, Smart, Home Entertainment Projector LG HU80KA Review – A Laser Powered, Smart, Home Entertainment Projector
  • Review Date: September 29, 2018
  • MSRP: $2999 MSRP/$2698 Street price
  • Technology: DLP
Optoma UHL55 First Look Review – Compact, 4K and Full of Smarts Optoma UHL55 First Look Review – Compact, 4K and Full of Smarts
  • Review Date: September 27, 2018
  • MSRP: $2,999
  • Technology: DLP with LED light source
JVC DLA-RS440U Review – A Serious, 4K Capable Home Theater Projector JVC DLA-RS440U Review – A Serious, 4K Capable Home Theater Projector
  • Review Date: August 20, 2018
  • MSRP: $3999
  • Technology: LCOS 3 Panel
Optoma UHD51A A Smart 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Review – With Alexa Optoma UHD51A A Smart 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Review – With Alexa
  • Review Date: July 29, 2018
  • MSRP: $3199
  • Technology: DLP
BenQ TK800 4K UHD Home Entertainment Projector Review BenQ TK800 4K UHD Home Entertainment Projector Review
  • Review Date: July 9, 2018
  • MSRP: $1499
  • Technology: DLP
The LG CineBeam HU80K – A 4K Laser Projector That Gets It The LG CineBeam HU80K – A 4K Laser Projector That Gets It
  • Review Date: June 29, 2018
  • MSRP: $2999
  • Technology: DLP
Acer VL7860 4K UHD Laser Projector Review Acer VL7860 4K UHD Laser Projector Review
  • Review Date: June 22, 2018
  • MSRP: $3999
  • Technology: DLP
Viewsonic PX727-4K Review: An Affordable 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Viewsonic PX727-4K Review: An Affordable 4K UHD Home Theater Projector
  • Review Date: June 11, 2018
  • MSRP: $1499
  • Technology: DLP
Optoma UHD50 and UHD51A – 4K Capable Projectors Well Under $2000 Optoma UHD50 and UHD51A – 4K Capable Projectors Well Under $2000
  • Review Date: June 8, 2018
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Technology:
Sony VPL-VW385ES – True 4K Home Theater Projector Review Sony VPL-VW385ES – True 4K Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: May 7, 2018
  • MSRP: $7999
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
First Look Review of BenQ TK800 4K UHD Projector – Is Better For You Than The BenQ HT2550? First Look Review of BenQ TK800 4K UHD Projector – Is Better For You Than The BenQ HT2550?
  • Review Date: April 27, 2018
  • MSRP: $1,499
  • Technology: DLP
BenQ HT2550 Projector Review – The Best 4K UHD Value Yet? BenQ HT2550 Projector Review – The Best 4K UHD Value Yet?
  • Review Date: March 28, 2018
  • MSRP: $1499
  • Technology: DLP
Dell S718QL – A 4K UHD, Ultra Short Throw, Laser Projector Review Dell S718QL – A 4K UHD, Ultra Short Throw, Laser Projector Review
  • Review Date: March 13, 2018
  • MSRP: $5999
  • Technology: DLP (1)
Vivitek HK2288 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Review Vivitek HK2288 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: February 9, 2018
  • MSRP: $1999.00
  • Technology: DLP
BenQ HT2550 – At $1499, The Most Affordable 4K UHD Projector Yet – First Look BenQ HT2550 – At $1499, The Most Affordable 4K UHD Projector Yet – First Look
  • Review Date: January 10, 2018
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Technology:
Optoma UHZ65 4K Laser Projector Review Optoma UHZ65 4K Laser Projector Review
  • Review Date: December 20, 2017
  • MSRP: $4500
  • Technology: DLP
Optoma UHD60 Projector Review and Comparison to UHD65 Optoma UHD60 Projector Review and Comparison to UHD65
  • Review Date: December 12, 2017
  • MSRP: $3799
  • Technology: DLP
Two Holiday Guides, Ten Great Home Projectors Two Holiday Guides, Ten Great Home Projectors
  • Review Date: November 28, 2017
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Technology: 0
Acer V7850 4K UHD DLP Projector Review Acer V7850 4K UHD DLP Projector Review
  • Review Date: November 11, 2017
  • MSRP: $2499
  • Technology: DLP
Sony VPL-VW285ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review Sony VPL-VW285ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: October 26, 2017
  • MSRP: $4999
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
BenQ HT9050 Home Theater Projector Review BenQ HT9050 Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: October 23, 2017
  • MSRP: $8995
  • Technology: DLP with LED light source
Casio XJ-L8300HN 4K UHD Business/Education Projector Review Casio XJ-L8300HN 4K UHD Business/Education Projector Review
  • Review Date: October 19, 2017
  • MSRP: $11,999
  • Technology: DLP
The Astonishing Epson Pro Cinema 4040 Home Theater Projector – Review The Astonishing Epson Pro Cinema 4040 Home Theater Projector – Review
  • Review Date: March 16, 2017
  • MSRP: $2699
  • Technology: 3LCD
Sony VPL-VW5000ES Home Theater/Commercial Projector Review Sony VPL-VW5000ES Home Theater/Commercial Projector Review
  • Review Date: January 29, 2017
  • MSRP: $60,000
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
Sony VPL-VW365ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review Sony VPL-VW365ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: November 26, 2016
  • MSRP: $9999
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, Pro Cinema 6040UB Home Theater Projector Review Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, Pro Cinema 6040UB Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: August 11, 2016
  • MSRP: $2699
  • Technology: 3LCD
Epson Pro G7905U Large Venue Projector Review Epson Pro G7905U Large Venue Projector Review
  • Review Date: August 1, 2016
  • MSRP: $6499
  • Technology: 3LCD
Epson Powerlite Pro L1500, L1505 Laser Projector Review Epson Powerlite Pro L1500, L1505 Laser Projector Review
  • Review Date: July 8, 2016
  • MSRP: $21999
  • Technology: 3LCD
JVC DLA-RS600U, X950R Home Theater Projector Review JVC DLA-RS600U, X950R Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: January 25, 2016
  • MSRP: $9995
  • Technology: D-ILA-3
Sony VPL-VW665ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review Sony VPL-VW665ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: December 18, 2015
  • MSRP: $14999
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
Epson LS10000 vs JVC DLA-RS6710 – Two Awesome HT Projectors Epson LS10000 vs JVC DLA-RS6710 – Two Awesome HT Projectors
  • Review Date: September 9, 2015
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Technology: 0
JVC DLA-RS6710U, RS67U, X900R, 4K Home Theater Projector Review JVC DLA-RS6710U, RS67U, X900R, 4K Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: April 22, 2015
  • MSRP: $12495
  • Technology: D-ILA
Sony VPL-VW350ES Home Theater Projector Review Sony VPL-VW350ES Home Theater Projector Review
  • Review Date: February 17, 2015
  • MSRP: $9999
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Projector Review:  Update Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Projector Review: Update
  • Review Date: February 2, 2015
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Technology: 0
Sony VPL-VW1100ES 4K Projector – A Review Sony VPL-VW1100ES 4K Projector – A Review
  • Review Date: November 22, 2014
  • MSRP: $27999
  • Technology: SXRD (3)
Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Laser Home Theater Projector – Review Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Laser Home Theater Projector – Review
  • Review Date: September 9, 2014
  • MSRP: $7999
  • Technology: 3LCD on Quartz (LCoQ)
Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Home Theater Projector Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Home Theater Projector
  • Review Date: March 4, 2014
  • MSRP: $14999
  • Technology: LCOS 3 Panel

About 4K Projectors

Sony VW5000
Sony’s flagship 4K Laser projector: The VPL-VW5000

2K Pixel shifting projectors using 1080p or other 2 megapixel devices (panels/chips). The pixel structure is far larger – that is, each pixel is 4X the size of a true 4K.  The each pixel fires twice, after shifting diagonally by half a pixel, so it can resolve a bit more detail from 4K content that without pixel shifting, but due to the pixel size, I don’t see them as true 4K devices.  They can market it that way, but with 4K content if you have fine lines in your image – big difference.

Those pixel shifting projectors’ claim to “4K space” is in their ability to accept 4K content, not their ability to fully resolve it.

3K Pixel Shifting Projectors:  Next – this third class is higher resolution than the “2K pixel shifters”.  I’m talking about those using TI’s new 4 megapixel DLP chip.  Read that carefully – we’re talking 4 megapixels, not 4K resolution.  4K resolution is 8 megapixels (3840×2160 or similar).  The resolution is  I don’t have the spec yet – which works out to really being a 3K projector.

TI’s new chip will have pixel shifting capabilities so that will place their new projectors that use it, almost exactly half way between the 2K pixel shifters, and the true 4K projectors when it comes to resolution.

The thing is that the UHD 4K standard counts the TI chip as being 4K.  The argument is based on addressability, though not resolution.  Since the chip has 4 million pixels, and each one fires once, then shifts and fires again, with possibly different data, that’s 8 million addressable, which is the same number has having a true 4K chip with each pixel firing only once.

OK, I get it, but the pixels are still twice the size, and they are overlapping, that means they just can’t resolve near as much detail

Finally the 4th type of “4K” projector doesn’t exist yet.  Basically those will be some additional projectors using 1080p or WUXGA chip sets (but no pixel shifting), but add the ability to take in 4K content, deal with it and project it best it can, just like 720p projectors can accept 1080p content.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

4K Projector Pricing

As of January of 2016, there are few 4K projectors shipping.  The least expensive on the home theater side, has a list price of $9999, the most expensive (short of a true commercial movie theater projector) is $60,000

On the commercial/education/business side, prices are even higher to start.  For example Canon’s only 4K projector is $54,990.  Sony’s got a few models so prices come down into the $20K range. Of course over the next couple of years we should see far more 4K projectors shipping, and that will drive prices down considerably.

“Pixel shifting 4K projectors” for the home market start at $4000 for the least expensive JVC and $8K for the Epson LS10000 laser projector.

No pricing at the time of this writing for the first of those 4 Megapixel projectors, the first to ship is likely to be an Optoma, which is expected to ship Q1 2016.

Conclusion

Perhaps the most important message was the first one.  If you need the absolute best resolution, you are talking about a true 4K projector – one with about 8 million separate pixels, that will hit your screen with light without any overlap.

There will be plenty of 1080p and WUXGA resolution projectors coming that will be able to accept 4K content, but no matter what the image processing, it all comes down to the most important thing being relative pixel size.  A 2K (1080p, etc.) pixel is still huge by comparison, and a 3K DLP chip is still using pixels that are 2X that of a true 4K projector.

There is need for 4K.  For home, with a true 4K projector you can finally sit close enough to a screen to get really immersed and still have a razor sharp image.  For other uses, the resolution aids in presenting anything requiring great detail, renderings, engineering, satellite photos…

4K Projectors – It’s about time!

News and Comments