Posted on July 29, 2018 By Art Feierman
Optoma – with its brand new UHD51A 4K UHD projector, is one of the first projector manufacturers to offer up a smart projector design for the mainstream of the market. This projector is 4K capable using the the smaller/less expensive of the two 4K UHD resolution DLP chips.
The secret sauce – if you will, the smarts – is supporting Alexa (and also Goggle Assistant) which I’ll go into at length in this review. Optoma put their “home theater” color wheel in this projector, but still manages to claim 2400 lumens, more than other 4K UHD projectors with similar wheels. (Hint, the UHD51A did not meet its brightness claim, but is comparable to the competition).
The UHD51A is $1699 list price, be aware, also that it has an almost identical twin, the UHD50, this is only $1399. With the UHD51A, it’s those smarts that you are paying for, with the difference in list price. (I suspect the selling prices will be closer to each other).
Meantime, with the UHD51A, you should expect a very sharp image on 1080p and lower resolution content, and even sharper with 4K content. There is little difference in sharpness at normal seating distances between projectors using the two different chips, and they are all very close in sharpness to the least expensive true 4K projectors (but not high end ones). In the world of more expensive lenses (lenses costing a lot more than this projector), you might buy a little more sharpness, but you also get more clarity – a clearer image (as if a film was removed from in front of the image).
The feature set is better almost all of the other 4K UHD DLPs in the price range, but that’s fair, as it is one of the most expensive using the 1920x1080x4 pixel shifting chip.
The difference between the two relates to the smarts and Wifi. The UHD51A comes with the wireless module which is not available for the UHD50. So you are getting the smart tech, and the wireless to make it work. And of course the wireless has other uses besides Alexa… If you don’t need the fancy, the UHD50 will save you enough money for a very good 4K Blu-ray UHD player, or a couple of years of Netflix subscription.
Photo of 4K UHD content - Passengers - on the Starship Avalon, image is very crisp and sharp without any major edge sharpening artifacts
Very good skin tones are no problem for the UHD51A projector - post calibration.
Rich and vibrant outdoor scenes are a strength of the UHD51A projector
The Blacklist - 4K UHD content streamed from Netflix
1080 resolution sports look just fine. CFI works nicely, image sharp, but no match for 4K content.
3D and smooth motion – a.k.a. Creative Frame Interpolation are both found on the UHD51A, add the WiFi to that, and the modest amount of lens shift, and without looking further, you have the best equipped of the 4K UHD DLP projectors (that using the smaller, less expensive chip). Now I would have loved to see a good dynamic iris, but you can’t have everything at this price point, considering this is the pricing range for “entry level” 4K content capable projectors.
The images in this player start out with some 4K content from Blu-ray UHD movies (Passengers, Ghostbusters, Journey To Space, followed by some 1080p and 1080i content (movies and HDTV). The last image is 4K content streamed from Netflix (Red from The Blacklist), which looks great in 4K although not HDR content.
Still a very impressive projector from Optoma so let’s get this review moving forward with the quick list of Highlights, then the Special Features… -art
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