Posted on June 8, 2018 By Nikki Kahl
Optoma has come out with two new projectors to add to their 4K UHD line, the Optoma UHD50 and UHD51A. We first saw these projectors at CES 2018, and the two are now shipping online and via authorized dealers. In this article, we will first take a look at the UHD50, then its sibling, and provide you with their highlights side by side so that you can compare the projectors and see which one is right for you.
The Optoma UHD50 is an impressive projector for several reasons, one of the most notable being that it has lens shift! This is a desirable feature for many. In my own home theater, I have my projector up on a high rear shelf and it is not even close to being lined up with where my screen is mounted. When I first fired up my projector, the bottom of the projected image was at about the halfway mark on my screen, with the top of the image spilling off onto the wall and the ceiling.
Since my projector has lens shift, I was able to bring that image down and align it with my screen without having to tilt the projector downward and use geometric correction. Why wouldn’t you want to use geometric correction over lens shift? Easy. When you have to tilt your projector in any way, the projected image takes on a trapezoid shape, and correcting it back stretches the image in some places, while possibly condensing it in others. This distorts the pixels, sometimes (most times) leading to a lower quality image. And if you paid for 4K UHD, any reduction of quality is unacceptable.
That said, you won’t have this problem with the Optoma UHD50! That lens shift capability isn’t always found projectors under $2000, and Optoma’s decision to implement that on this model makes us very happy at Projector Reviews! In addition to the lens shift, this projector also has great color, as we saw in our demo of the unit at CES 2018 back in January. Another awesome feature is that the projector can fill a 120” screen from just 10.5 feet back, making it a good choice for those who have smaller rooms but still want the big screen experience.
At a rated 2,400 lumens, the Optoma UHD50 is bright enough for a fully darkened home theater or media room with at least some lighting control. Originally priced at $1,499, the projector has since gone down to $1,399, making it the lowest cost projector in Optoma’s UHD line. The UHD50 accepts 4K content and even upscales 1080p content so that it appears sharper than it normally would. It also supports HDR, giving a more vibrant picture to 4K HDR content. Now, onto the Optoma UHD51A!
The Optoma UHD51A is what we would call a smart projector, meaning that it has smart capabilities! It has Alexa built in, making it controllable via voice commands. This is the first projector of its kind that can boast these kinds of capabilities. We had the pleasure of seeing the projector, and its voice commands, in action at CES 2018 earlier this year – right after the demo of the UHD50. The projector is currently going for $1,699.
Like the UHD50, the Optoma UHD51A has 2,400 claimed lumens, accepts 4K content (and HDR), as well as upscales that 1080p content for a sharper look. It also has lens shift and that closer throw distance for producing a 120” diagonal image at 10.5 feet back. Besides the Alexa integration, the UHD51A has another advantage over the UHD50 – full 3D compatibility. Both projectors have one of the quietest fan noise ratings around at just 25db! My Epson 5040UB projector, which costs $1000 more, is rated at just over 30db. That’s pretty impressive!
Going back to the Alexa integration – since it’s built in, there’s no need to actually own an Amazon Echo, Dot, or other Alexa-enabled device in order to use. Chances are you already have an Alexa device in your home if you’re looking at this projector, but the fact that it works without one is a definite perk. This integration allows you to turn the projector on or off and adjust the volume, just with your voice.
Speaking of volume, both projectors do have onboard speakers that are decent, but we wouldn’t recommend using them if you’re serious about your home theater setup, with the exception of an outdoor movie night. You paid all this money for the big screen experience, so why would you want small sound? That’s our take on it, anyway. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a home theater in a box or some other surround sound system, so you can take your movie-watching experience to the next level.
The bottom line is this – these are basically identical projectors, save for the two big additions to the UHD51A. Those are, of course, the integration of Alexa and the full 3D support. The UHD50 lacks 3D support, which may not be a big issue for some, and a deal breaker for others. If the Alexa and 3D capabilities excite you, go for the UHD51A, but if not, you’ll be perfectly happy with the UHD50, and save a couple hundred dollars in the process! Happy projector buying!
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