Posted on May 29, 2020 By Art Feierman
Optoma P1 Laser TV – 4K UHD Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise, Sharpness
This is a photo taken at night, of the P1 and the bottom of a favorite image from Ghostbusters. Not touched up, of course, vibrant colors!
Early evening: even with all the glass, the P1 has no problem filling the partially raised, large UST/ALR screen. You can see a bit of the same color on the LG OLED behind it.
More evening, lights on! Still too much light for ideal movie viewing, but great for anything less than critical viewing.
My living room with five almost floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, and a three-panel "bay window" and sun pouring in, is just too much, for the P1 on a 120" screen.
The Optoma P1 Laser TV is an ultra-short throw projector, which does make it a challenge to measure brightness. This was the 2nd UST projector Jason calibrated for us, the first being the VAVA . The numbers came in low. I have since spoken with Optoma, who just sent me their method of measuring UST projectors, but too late for the review unit.
Jason used the same methods of measuring brightness for both the Optoma P1 and the VAVA. For that matter the VAVA also came in under claim, although, as a percentage of what the projectors claim, the VAVA and Optoma were similar on SDR content, but not with HDR.
No matter, as you will see below, the P1 musters up close to 2000 lumens calibrated (HDR) and that’s certainly a healthy amount for a projector not geared for a dedicated, really dark, home theater. Don’t get me wrong, in many rooms the more brightness the better – it’s really hard to have too much. That’s why other laser TVs that cost a chunk more, are first and foremost, brighter. For years we described home theater projectors that could put 1500 good looking lumens on the screen as “a light canon.” More recently, as both 3D and now, HDR, demand more brightness than the good old Standard Dynamic Range, that was the best we watched until HDR came along.
The P1 claims 3000 lumens. With most home theater projectors, of the DLP variety, we expect calibrated results to measure approximately half of claim. The P1 did a bit worse in brightness on SDR, which is fine, since we need less overall brightness for handling standard dynamic range.
Jason found that the projector produces some good looking color balance to start – but not at 100% brightness. He found that 100% as well as Dynamic Black 1,2,3 (all three), were not as good, so he calibrated the projector with power set to 95% (more info on the calibration pages). One can see the color shift going from 95% to 100%. It’s not massive, but it is definitely slightly visible to those that look. But that’s enough to make a real difference on skin tones.
So, keep in mind, technically the Optoma is at least 5% brighter than our numbers because we went with 95% power. BTW, power decreases in 5% increments, from 100% down to 50%. I was surprised it didn’t go below that, but that’s OK. (Might have been nice to have a 20-25% bright mode for using the projector to project a slideshow on the screen, when not using).
Normally we quote mid-zoom for most measurements because we believe that is more “real life” than publishing the highest (closest placement). But, of course, this is a UST projector, so no zoom lens.
Optoma claims a very high contrast number: 1,500,000:1 , an easy feat, using some measurement methods. Contrast relates to black level performance, but since a laser engine can “shut off” when doing pure black, the numbers end up rather useless.
We prefer to assess black level performance by visual observation.
As discussed, black level performance is better than, say, most lower cost lamp based DLP projectors.
The Dynamic Black should improve the black levels, but due to the color shift, and an occasional jerkiness on some scenes, I did not use it to improve those black levels.
Given I have been running the Optoma P1 at 95% brightness, not 100%, it is very nicely quiet. The fan noise is fairly low pitched and really only noticeable in my living room, if there is silence coming from the content, and the room is quiet too.
The Optoma definitely does not have any issue with audible noise from fans and color wheel…
And speaking of audible, no problem with the four speaker soundbar – which has to mid-range/tweeters and two small woofers. All it needs is a sub-woofer for shaking the foundations of your house. And, unlike most competitors, it can have a sub-woofer hooked up while using the internal speakers. But, I digress.
The bottom line on P1 audible noise levels: Quieter than most, and a non-issue!
To get the maximum sharpness out of the P1, my first recommendation is to manually align the image to the screen, rather than using SmartFit.
SmartFit adjusts the image to the screen using digital “compression” not too dissimilar from keystone correction. If you take the time to align manually, the image should inherently be slightly sharper.
I do see a little ghosting/blooming if I get very close to the screen, although if you haven’t focused it yet, that blooming can be very noticeable. So make sure you take your time when using the electric focus, to get it right on the money. Find that spot where the center and most of the upper left or right corners are very sharp, and the bottom close to being max sharpness. That concentration on the upper corners, worked best for me.
In this player we have a couple of close-ups but also comparisons with other projectors using various close-ups including the credits close-up from Ghostbusters 2016.
VAVA: Close-up of the previous frame, also higher resolution if you click to enlarge.
Same close-up, LG HU85LA - their laser TV, but higher-end, and almost twice the price.
Now discontinued HiSense Laser TV (came bundled with screen) $8K.
The Epson HC5050 is not a 4K UHD projector but it also uses 1920x1080 chips, but only pixel shifts twice not 4 times. They rely on some excellent image processing.
BenQ HT5550 - another 4K UHD DLP with the same chipset, but in a standard throw projector with a zoom lens, and also dynamic iris for better dark scenes.
This is your basic 4K UHD home entertainment projector. The TK800 is bright - claims 3000 lumens, standard throw, but has been seen for under $1000
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