Projector Reviews

Optoma CinemaX P1 Laser TV Review – Hardware 1

CinemaX P1 Laser TV Hardware Review – Hardware: Overview and Tour, Lens, Inputs and Connectors

Overview & Tour

Optoma’s CinemaX P1 is a slim, clean looking Laser TV finished in black metal and black cloth. It sits inches below and away from the screen. On top of the projector is the slot for the optics/laser engine. The front (facing the audience) of the P1 is has a slight V shape, but nothing on the front, as that is really all grill cloth for the aforementioned NuForce soundbar that’s built-in. Just above, on the right side is the power button and four tiny LED lights.

If you are facing the front of the projector, and look to the right side, besides the grills for ventilation, there are two connectors mounted low near the back. One is HDMI 3, and the other is a USB for using the media player. Good job providing access from the side.

All the other inputs and outputs are located on the back of the CinemaX P1. Another venting is located on the left side, but no other connectors.

There are four feet – two rear feet set in from the sides and are not adjustable. The two front feet, however are at the front corners, and I should note, are finished with an almost rose gold-colored trim (looks killer) that matches the power button. Those front feet are screw thread adjustable and come with spacers for better stability (nice touch).

Power and Indicators

As mentioned, the power button is top right. When on standby, the first light is red, white, when it is on. All four are positioned under the speaker cloth (but yes, on the top). When sitting normally one doesn’t see the power light (in a dark room you just might be able to spot it, but I have never noticed it when watching content. Two of the other three lights are for the usual – laser, temperature, while the third indicates Bluetooth in use.

Built-in SoundBar by NuForce

 

speakers inside
A peek “under the hood” at part of the NuForce soundbar integrated into the P1

 

The audio system, consisting of those four NuForce speakers, are mounted behind the front cloth grill. The spec sheet says 2×19 watts, but I’ve also seen “40 watts” somewhere. Close enough. Optoma isn’t the first company to go with an audio specialist for the speakers. In this case, they own NuForce, but other competitors use speakers from Harmon Kardon and others, with the goal of good quality room-filling sound.

The Lens

I still don’t really have a handle on how the asymmetrical optics of an ultra-short-throw projector work, but manufacturers have gotten very good at building them. Still, longer throw projectors seem to have less focus/clarity issues. I’ve spotted some faint ghosting also with these UST projector optics. There seems to be more variation in the optics in these projectors as compared to traditional longer throw projectors.

laser engine P1
Looking down at the light from the laser engine. The P1 detects faces and dims the laser light to protect us.

Unlike the VAVA, the P1 is pretty consistent in sharpness. It’s hard to get a really sharp image from bottom to top, but with the motorized focus, it gets close. (The VAVA was definitely soft in one corner!) Generally, with the P1 there remains a bit of softness near the top, when I have the best overall sharpness. It’s not something we’re all likely to notice if focused at its best, but it is less than perfect.

The lens is fixed – no zoom, typical of UST projectors. BTW, it is tricky to measure how bright UST projectors are, but Jason Dustal – ISF calibrator, was up to the challenge – he says. More on that on the Performance and Calibration pages. Note: The projector does have digital zoom

Warning: Throw distances – below and out from the screen: See the Placement Section on the next page, for very critical info about placing the projector due to variation in units!

As discussed on our Special Features page of this review, the projector does have motion detection wherever the laser light can hit, to avoid blinding you. It seems to be more sophisticated than the same feature on the VAVA. The VAVA would dim the laser immediately if anything passes through the light path, organic or not. The Optoma P1 seems to be looking to detect a face? Waving my hands in front doesn’t seem to do it. Close my eyes and lean in, and it dims the laser every time. That’s a good thing. The VAVA would drive me crazy working around it, i.e. aligning it, so that I would have to turn off the eye protection. Not with the P1, it works rather nicely.

Inputs and Connectors

back connectors
Most of the inputs and other connectors, including two of the HDMIs, are located on the back - facing the screen.

I am thrilled to see 3 HDMI inputs, although one is on the side. (It would have been even better to have three in the back, one on the side), where you can choose whether to use the side, one or the third one in the back as a software toggle.

The side is handy for hooking up a device quickly while the back is where you want your permanent devices hooked up… I think every laser TV should have 3, if not 4. For you projector regulars; because of the general nature of UST projectors, most folks may not have a separate sound system. That means most will not have an AV receiver to plug all their sources into for switching, and then feed a single HDMI cable to the projector.

side inputs
The right side (if you are facing the projector - offers convenient HDMI and USB inputs.

Think about it. There are plenty of devices you can hook up 4K UHD Blu-ray players, Roku sticks, regular Blu-ray players, game consoles, satellite or cable box, specialty devices… Myself, at one point I had 7 HDMI devices going through my AV receiver.

So, it’s great to see those 3 HDMIs. They are all 2.0 HDMI, with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. Be sure to use high quality HDMI cables, that is very important with 4K content.

Only HDMI 1 has ARC, for returning audio (ideal for working with an external audio system, etc. from a smart TV), ie, the Optoma P1. For example, the same HDMI with ARC can be used to bring in video and audio from a disc player, cable etc. (let’s say through an AV receiver). That’s typical of any HDMI. But with ARC, when the source is your display (the P1 in this case) and let’s say you are streaming Amazon Prime. Everything is in your projector, but with ARC you can send audio out to your AV receiver and it’s better sound system.

In addition, there’s a USB on the side as well, which has power, so can be used to charge devices

The other connectors on the back include: Two USBs (one is for service only), the digital audio out (up to 5.1), the analog audio out (can drive a sub-woofer). There’s also an RJ45 connector for wired networking. And, of course, the obligatory power receptacle, and a Kensington Lock slot for security.

News And Comments