Best In Class – Performance $1000 – $2000: Optoma UHD60

We have a winner, but it was a close call, with the Optoma UHD60 eeking out the Performance award in this class, and that pesky Epson HC4000 taking the Value award.  Together, they represent two tough competitors and top performers that are very different.

Optoma UHD60 Front
The Optoma UHD60 is a 4K UHD projector that we’ve seen in action, but have not reviewed. It has many similarities to its sibling, the UHD65.

So, what’s this Optoma UHD60 have to offer us? Before I answer, please remember, I’ve seen this projector in action, but we haven’t (despite begging with no regard to our self esteem) received one from Optoma. This product just started shipping, and there have been limited review units available. I had a choice and demanded the UHD65, which I received and reviewed. (See how it did in the next up price class.)

I know what the differences are between the two projectors, and I can draw what I think are enough accurate conclusions to properly consider the UHD60, but there are still some answers that I won’t have until we get that review unit. Optoma told me just a couple of days ago that will probably be shortly after CEDIA ’17, (which is this week).

Optoma UHD60 Overview

Without getting into that debate here as to what is Faux-K, vs true 4K, let’s keep it simple. The UHD60 is a 4K UHD projector – that means it uses pixel shifting to put 8.3 million pixels on the screen, double that, say, of the pixel shifting Epson HC4000. Its actual resolution is 2716×1528 x2 (the x2 is the pixel shifting).

Another thing to note about the UHD60, which also relates to resolution and sharpness, is that this is a single chip DLP, and therefore does not have the minor misalignment that 3-chip projectors have (keep in mind that the large majority of over $2000 home projectors use three chips, whether DLP, 3LCD, or LCoS).

Still, add single-chip design and the 4K UHD resolution, and you can understand that the UHD60 is going to be the sharpest projector on the market under $2000, period. (Using some of Epson’s “advanced” processing, it can seem as sharp, but ultimately the Optoma wins in sharpness).

The UHD60 uses a “business” or home entertainment color wheel. That separates it from the more expensive UHD65 which let’s say, has a home theater color wheel. The UHD60’s wheel has a clear slice – that creates more white lumens, less color lumens, and likely a bit less native contrast. I’m not sure, with the lower color lumens, that the 60 can actually do better than the UHD65 in a room with a lot of ambient light, despite the claimed 3000 lumens (vs 2200).

From a placement standpoint at this price, the UHD60 is merely average, with a 1.6:1 manual zoom lens and a moderate amount of lens shift. No wide screens for UHD60 users, as for that you normally want Lens Memory, which requires a fully motorized zoom lens.

Lamp life is pretty dazzling 10,000 hours in Eco mode. In other words, this projector may well be obsolete before you need another lamp. Nice. (Remember, though, the life in hours is how long it takes to dim 50%, it’s not a rating for how long it will last before burning out.)

If the UHD60 performs as expected when we review it, it will have a bit of a problem not crushing near whites when handling 4K content, HDR/BT.2020, but it gets close to handling them.

All of today’s 4K capable projectors (and most LCD TVs) struggle with handling HDR, due to HDR’s demand for far more brightness than we’re used to. That said, each manufacturer has to compromise a bit in how they attempt HDR. Some projectors can seem a bit too dim in the lower brightness ranges, while others like this one seem a bit too bright in the upper brightness ranges – which makes the HDR look, by my take, a bit less like HDR and more like SDR (standard dynamic range). None can nail it, except maybe Sony’s $60K true 4K projector with a useable 5000 lumens, and even it, technically, needs more lumens.

So, with that in mind, I’m expecting (until at least we review one) the 60 to perform much like the UHD65, which does seem bright, as I just described, but a little less HIGH in its HDR. Those that go the darker route, seem to have more pop, but less bright…

The Bottom Line

Look for very good color capability, but if like the UHD65, it can definitely use a calibration for it probably isn’t quite as color accurate as some others “right out of the box.”

From my viewing of the UHD65, let me say, I just can’t wait to start viewing sports in 4K (it’s coming). The sharpness should be downright stunning.

Downside? Like its competition – black level performance. That proves to be the UHD65’s biggest weakness, and the UHD60 at best can only rival the UHD65.

I think I need to say the same thing about this UHD60 as I did about its 3LCD competitor, the HC4000 – great projector, great price, but if you have the extra $500, you probably should buy its big brother.

The UHD60 should be a respectable gaming projector. There’s no reason to expect the input lag to be different at all from the UHD65 which was under 50 ms, but a little slower than the Epson competition. Still, a respectable gamer it should be.

The sharpness, plus the 4K capability is why this projector gets the Performance award in its class.  For under $2K, this should prove to be one very popular, and very impressive projector. It may not have the massive feature set of the Epson HC4000 but that extra sharpness is a real plus!

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