Posted on July 17, 2021 By Philip Boyle
Like its older brother, the CinemaX P1, the P2 is a smart projector with access to Android apps built into the projector’s operating system. With Android app support built-in you don’t have to worry about using a third-party dongle like an Amazon Firestick or the new Chromecast with Google TV. No third-party dongle needed is a significant feature. If I made the P2, I would be shouting about it, but Optoma barely mentions it at the bottom of the product website.
As far as I can tell, the system is identical to the previous model the CinemaX P1. The P1 was fine for its time, but not so much today. The interface is a little slow and has a separate menu from the main projectors. Even though it is technically built-in. I don’t like the separation of its interface from the rest of the projectors.
Compared to the capabilities of almost any of the modern Android smart devices like FireStick, Apple TV, and Chromecast with Google TV, Optoma’s built-in solution come across as a bit outdated. The truth is I’m of two minds about Optoma’s implementation of this technology. It is not the same integrated experience I’m used to having with modern smart media sticks. However, Despite the less modern user experience, Optoma has provided P2 owners a full-featured Android experience that many other projectors don’t offer.
One element of Optoma’s “Smart” OS that I find interesting is the IFTTT support built-in. The IFTTT automated services platform lets you use customized services centered specifically around using smart devices. For example, automatically control Volume, Mute, and Turn On and Off the projector. By connecting to IFTTT, this projector becomes part of an intelligent lifestyle. So, is this for everyone? No. In my opinion, this feature is for the DIY types and the folks buying from an AV dealer and getting a custom install. This narrow segment of users could have many additional smart abilities added, from turning off lights to lowering shades or starting a smart popcorn machine.
There is another terrific element to the CinemaX P2 projector’s smart capabilities, and that is the InfoWall Light and Great Masters’ collection. Think of it as a lock screen like on your Android phone where you can display custom wallpapers and information such as time, date, weather, news, and information. With the Great Masters’ feature, your P2 can display a variety of artwork onto your wall. When I played around with it, I could not help but think to myself, “This is really cool”. Check it out for yourself. It is a nice set of options to have should you want your home theater projector to be more than… a home theater projector.
At the heart of the Optoma CinemaX P2 is a Texas Instruments high-performance 0.47″ DMD. This DMD technology makes good use of TI’s XPR technology. XPR provides fast switching to display 4x the number of pixels of 1080P (8.3 million). Optoma’s XPR technologies fast switching creates pixels horizontally and vertically to achieve 8.3M and the highly detailed image you see on the screen. It does this all faster than your eye can see.
The Optoma CinemaX P2 Laser TV, like most 4K-capable projectors, is not native 4K but instead what Optoma calls True 4K. This projector displays 8.3 million pixels on the screen. From a visual standpoint, there is not really a difference between native and true 4K.
With pixel-shifting technology, image processing plays a significant role. Crank up the sharpness, and things seem to have more contrast, but you also lose detail. You may perceive the image as sharper, not being aware you are losing some detail.
With the P2, like the P1, the ultra-short-throw optics perform remarkably well. Certainly from a pure focus or distortion point of view, long-throw projectors have an advantage for super-accurate focus. With an ultra-short-throw system, the focus isn’t always perfect across the whole screen. The P2 has some very minor artifacts such as a slight ghosting effect that can appear, usually on one, of the extreme edges of a corner of the screen. That said, the experience is still a really good one, and the benefits of using an ultra-short-throw projector far outweigh this minor downside.
One of the features carried over from the Optoma CinemaX P1 to the P2 is the built-in Bluetooth soundbar capability. Just pair any compatible Bluetooth audio device to the P2, and you’ll have a respectable, room-filling sound system to play your favorite tunes on. Further, because it is audio-only, the power consumption is pretty minimal. Compare this to Full mode with the laser light engine consuming much more power running only the audio amp and built-in speakers.
The P2 has an audio latency control, so there are no syncing problems between its onboard audio and the video. Many modern projectors still do not offer audio sync for lag. Audio sync is typically found in Smart dongles and devices like FireStick and AppleTV when their sound and picture are out of sync. Even though the CinemaX P2 lacks a Bluetooth out option, I don’t think this will be much of an issue since the built-in Bluetooth speaker sounds so good.
The built-in speaker system is isolated from the light engine, so vibrations do not affect the image. Serious home theater users would ordinarily use high-quality external sound systems. That is why typical home theater projectors in this range, except for better gaming projectors, tend to have no built-in sound.
Projectors like the CinemaX P2 sometimes can be the exception. These Laser TVs are complete systems in that all they technically need is a wall on which to shine the image, a source, and power. In addition, a subwoofer or an external sound system can be hooked up to the P2.
The CinemaX P2 has plenty of power, starting with a specification of 2×19 watts to drive the four speakers inside the case consisting of two full-range drivers (one for each channel) and two separate “woofers” to handle the low end. The P2 has plenty of muscle and is capable of producing big, and yes, accurate sound.
The Optoma CinemaX P2 supports HDR10 and HLG. When you import an HDR/HLG signal, the projector automatically switches to HDR/HLG Display mode. Optoma’s HDR color mapping and tone mapping technologies present HDR/HLG movies or games with optimized performance for improved color accuracy and dynamic contrast. HDR is a standard designed to display a higher dynamic range in video signals, showing the image with more brightness and color without losing any details. The Optoma CinemaX P2 allows users to adjust the dynamic range according to the video content or environment. HLG is an HDR system specifically developed for television by the BBC and Japanese broadcaster NHK. Online video streaming platforms such as YouTube, Freeview Play, or DIRECTV all support HLG formats. You can enjoy TV programs like World Cup games or Blue Planet at home with stunning HDR effects.
HDR has five presets, including Film, which is the most accurate, but all are roughly equal in brightness. In my opinion Film mode is the best choice if you have your room fully darkened for a good movie. Some of the other presets may have more punch but Film mode looks the best to my eye.
It’s been said plenty of times that HDR is tough to see on a projector. You often can’t see a difference between the projector’s HDR mode and the same content in SDR. That is not such a dramatic difference with the Optoma P2. I can see a difference between HDR and SDR content. Still, it’s a subtle difference that I’m afraid the regular user wouldn’t catch. Honestly, I’m paid to sit in a lab and stare at a projected image on a screen. I’m trained to look for differences, even subtle ones. I’ve seen other Optoma projectors with a more visible difference between HDR and SDR content. This is probably due to the CinemaX P2 being a slightly updated version of the CinemaX P1. In contrast, these other Optoma projectors are newer machines with better-tuned HDR settings and capabilities.
Like every other Optoma projector I’ve reviewed, the good news is that the CinemaX P2’s out-of-the-box HDR performance on skin tones and the overall color is more than good enough. Being critical of this projector HDR vs SDR is a difference of degrees that may not matter to everyone.
Dynamic Black can accurately control the laser light engine’s light output power and automatically adjust it based on different image brightness. There’s no need to use an aperture ring to adjust for dark scenes. With the Auto Gain function, details are more pronounced, and an increase in a contrast ratio of nearly three times is achieved. This means that images appear true to life with a dramatic increase in contrast. The Optoma CinemaX P2 Dynamic Black is one of the primary reasons that Optoma claims this projector can display 2,000,000:1 contrast. The Dynamic Black mode makes darker video content present with more depth. If you’re going to watch any serious movie or television content, I highly recommend you turn on this mode.
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