After setting basic credentials and preparing to square the projector to the screen, I noticed a faint blue-green line going from the center of the screen to the upper right corner. This line faded as the projector warmed up, but this did not fill me with great confidence. This type of artifact should not ever be visible.
The Formovie Theater UST projector has already been put through the wringer and won the 2022 projectorscreen.com sponsored shootout in the Ultra-Short-Throw category.
I'm going to start with how the projector's preset picture modes perform out-of-the-box.
In SDR mode, there are a total of seven preset picture modes.
Regarding best performance out-of-the-box with SDR content, the MOVIE mode was my preferred choice in my space in total darkness. The MOVIE mode provides accurate colors, skin tones, and details in the dark areas of the image. For rooms with more ambient light, I recommend the STANDARD mode or playing around with the USER mode to adjust the image to your preference.
In HDR mode, the presets are the same, although HDR content dials down the overall color saturation, creating a more natural-looking picture. My recommendation for the best modes when watching movies are the same as above. MOVIE mode for watching content in the dark. STANDARD or USER modes when watching content with some ambient light present.
The truth is that you will have to play around with the preset you choose based on your room and the content you are watching. Presets such as GAME and CHILD were excellent choices for gaming and watching animation.
DOLBY VISION content gives users a choice between two modes, DOLBY VISION BRIGHT and DOLBY VISION DARK. These modes reduce the projector's brightness considerably, revealing much more detail.
VIVID and SPORTS modes are bright. These modes compensate for rooms with much higher levels of uncontrolled ambient light. In these modes, color accuracy and dark level detail drop significantly but allow the projector to display decent-looking color in bright environments.
The Formovie Theater's built-in preset picture modes look excellent from the factory. However, to get the best color performance, you need to calibrate the projector professionally (my recommendation). Professional calibration combined with the Dolby Vision and HDR modes will take this projector's performance to the next level.
Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, we don’t recommend using someone else calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else results can cause more harm than good. However, below are the before and after calibration results in our space.
We used Portrait DisplaysCalman color calibration software to test, measure, and calibrate the Formovie Theater.
Pre-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale
In the MOVIE picture mode, the RGB balance had an average DeltaE of just 3.55, which is very good. The color temperature measured 6521K, which was just a few degrees off my target of 6500K. The measured Gamma was 2.16, close to my target of 2.2.
However, the projector color tracking definitely benefits from CMS adjustment. The Formovie Theater has an RGB laser light source that can reproduce an extremely wide color gamut. This is beneficial when viewing HDR material master in either DCI-P3 or BT.2020.
However, when viewing content captured in Rec709, bright colors were over-saturated. This, combined with massive Hue shifts, resulted in a high Average Color Tracking error.
The good news is that the Formovie includes a full set of color and CMS adjustments to improve the projector's color tracking.
Picture Mode: MOVIE
Color Temperature: 6521K
Average Grayscale dE: 3.55
Average Color Tracking dE: 7.14
Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale
For viewing SDR, we calibrated the MOVIE picture preset. The default COLOR TEMP setting of Warm was very close to 6500K, so we just had to made some quick adjustments to the WHITE BALANCE to produce an outstanding Grayscale. I decreased both the RED GAIN and the BLUE GAIN and reduced the BLUE Offset slightly.
The Formovie Theater offers 11-Point White Balance Correction but the RGB Balance was so good after 2 point adjustment I didn't feel the need to utilize it.
Once the BRIGHTNESS was adjusted, the Formovie Theater was close to my gamma target was 2.2, so I left the projector's GAMMA set to the Middle option.
It appears that when the COLOR SPACE option is set to the default of AUTO, the projector still uses its native color Space of BT.2020 and does not automatically down-convert when viewing Rec.709 content. To prevent oversaturated Rec709 colors, this setting needs to be switched to ON, which also accurately displays DCI-P3 and BT.2020.
Picture Mode: MOVIE
Color Temperature: 6509K
Average Grayscale dE: 1.13
Average Color Tracking dE: 2.1
Delta E measurement of 3 or less is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. Even before calibration, the Formovie Theater had an average Grayscale dE of 3.55, which is good. After calibration, the projector had a grayscale average dE of 1.13, which is outstanding.
An average pre-calibration Color Tracking dE of 7.14 was due to hue shifts and over-saturated colors. Using the projector's COLOR TUNER (CMS) adjustments the dE can be reduced to around 2. Note that the settings adjustments per input are independent so desired settings must be manually copied to another input.
Pre/Post HDR Two Point White Balance
Like most RGB laser-equipped projectors, the Formovie Theater can reproduce up to 107% of BT.2020. While this much color is overkill when viewing SDR or Rec709 material, it really makes HDR content rich and vibrant.
When set to MOVIE (HDR10) picture mode, the projector's grayscale average DeltaE was just 3, which was very good. The unit's RGB balance was quickly improved using the projector's 2point Grayscale adjustments (GAIN / OFFSET)
Note the picture adjustments for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision picture modes are independent of SDR settings. Like the SDR the settings adjustments per input are independent so desired settings must be manually copied to another input.
While we took the time to calibrate the Formovie Theater most customers looking at Laser TVs do not have their projectors professionally calibrated.
While there were some issues with the projector color tracking out of the box, the projector's accurate grayscale and color temperature resulted in one of the best-looking pictures I have seen from a Laser TV.
The Formovie Theater has a rated maximum brightness of 2,800 ANSI lumens. To measure its max brightness, I set the projector to STANDARD mode (the brightest mode) and increased the projector's LASER LIGHT SETTING to its maximum. I then took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.
The Formovie Theater measured 2,650 ANSI lumens, 150 lumens less than Formovie's rating but close enough to the manufacturer's rated brightness of 2,800 lumens. The Formovie Theater is more than bright enough for viewing SDR content on a 120" screen in a room with some light or HDR content on a 150" screen in a dark room.
The chart below shows my calculated brightness rating for each of the projector's out-of-the-box preset picture modes.
Preset Picture Mode
2,650 ANSI Lumens
2,578 ANSI Lumens
2,572 ANSI Lumens
2,068 ANSI Lumens
2,516 ANSI Lumens
2,231 ANSI Lumens
2,585 ANSI Lumens
BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL
The Formovie Theater is bright for an RGB DLP projector and can produce decent black levels with visible details.
One of the biggest reasons this projector garners so much praise is its black-level performance. Better black-level performance results in higher contrast which is beneficial when watching movies in a darkened theater or a room with some uncontrolled ambient light sources. I found the black level and shadow performance on the Formovie Theater better than most UST projectors I've reviewed in the past.
The Formovie Theater black levels and shadow details looked like those on much more expensive DLP projectors that use a larger 0.65 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) rather than the 0.47 DMD used in this projector.
You will sacrifice brightness if you want those deep inky blacks you find on Sony or JVC LCOS projectors. Shadow detail is going to be outside the LCOS range. However, if you are willing to strike a balance between inky blacks and lighter blacks with better detail, the Formovie is more capable than many other Ultra-Short-Throw DLP projectors in this price range.
SDR, HDR, AND DOLBY VISION
Dolby Vision is an advanced form of High Dynamic Range (HDR) where brightness, color, and contrast levels should be better than those produced by projectors that only support HDR10.
The engineers over at Dolby have certified that this projector, at a minimum, meets their stringent requirements for a certified Dolby Vision device.
Out-of-the-box, Dolby Vision settings provided accurate-looking colors, with a lot of detail in the dark and bright sections of the displayed image. The Dolby Vision content creators program dynamic metadata frame-by-frame to get this level of shadow detail with color accuracy.
The Formovie's HDR performance also looked outstanding. On this projector, HDR video content is more saturated than I'm used to seeing.
Partnering with an audio company is becoming increasingly popular on specialty displays such as gaming and Ultra-Short-Throw projectors. For example, BenQ partners with treVolo on their X series gaming projectors, Hisense is making USTs with sound by Harmon Kardon, and even Epson has gotten on the bandwagon and partnered with Yamaha for the sound systems on their 2022 LS series projectors. I've reviewed each of these Ultra-Short-Throw projectors and others without a sound system partnership. They've all sounded good to me for what they are. Most of these Ultra-Short-Throw projectors offer a sound system that performs similarly to lower-priced sound bars or high-performance Bluetooth speakers. I expected the same from the Formovie Theater. I was wrong.
Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) put some effort into the development of this partnership. B&W has gotten much more from this projector's built-in sound system than a typical sound bar. There is a decent amount of mid-bass, at least enough to add a little roar to the party. I've read in more than a few places that the audio on the projector was not dynamic with a minimal sound stage, and that was true for me until I started playing around with the projector's audio settings. Out-of-the-box, the Formovie Theater has a few Digital Signal Processing (DSP) settings designed to make content with a limited sound mix perform better. I recommend turning anything like that off when watching something with a dedicated surround track, especially anything that can leverage the projector's Dolby Atmos capabilities. Movies such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Blade Runner: 2049, or the latest James Bond: No Time To Die puts you in the middle of the action with sound effects seemingly coming from all around the room. Even at louder volumes, the sound remained distortion free. The dialog was not lost, remaining audible in most cases. Should you have any content where the actor's voices are hard to hear, the projector has a setting to clarify dialog. The bottom line is that If you don't have an external surround sound system, get one. But if you can't, you should be more than happy with the built-in Bowers & Wilkins sound system's sound quality.
The projector's cooling system is noticeable, not just when the audio is quiet. Ordinarily, this would not be an issue since fan noise is usually just background white noise; however, the fans on this projector have something of a rhythm. The fans wind up and then slow down in a repeating pattern. It's a low, annoying sound that is more noticeable than I expected.