Optoma UHD60 Review and Comparison to UHD65 – Special Features

December 11, 2017

Optoma UHD60 Review and Comparison to UHD65 – Special Features: Color Wheel, Texas Instruments 4K UHD Chip, HDR, BT.2020 Color Space, CFI and Image Enhancement, Lacks 3D

Color Wheel

The UHD60, as mentioned, uses a different color wheel than the UHD65. Theoretically, that’s why you pay $500 more for the UHD65 – figure that the cost difference of the different wheels (and wheel speeds) is minor, so pricing is set more by marketing and channels of distribution than costing a lot more to build.

The other difference is that the UHD60’s overall color wheel speed is slower. The UHD60's color wheel is 5 segments while the UHD65's have wheels are 6 segments, but the UHD65’s is a classic RGBRGB. The faster speed of the wheel means the UHD65 has the advantage over this UHD60 if you (as I am) are rainbow sensitive. If not, as is the case with most folks, then the color wheel speed is a non-factor, but I definitely do see the occasional rainbow flashes more often with the UHD60 than its big brother.

The UHD60’s wheel differentiates itself from the UHD65 by having color segments on the wheel to pass more light. The wheel itself is five segments, an interesting RGBCY  – red, green, blue (the primary colors), C (cyan), and Y (yellow), two of the three secondary colors (missing is Magenta). While wheels do not need more than RGB, there are color performance advantages to adding others, but also a potential cost in brightness. The most egregious setup is to have a large clear slice on a color wheel, which is not the case here, per Optoma. That results in very low color lumen counts compared to white lumens. Long ago, we did a video on color lumens where we explain, for those who love the technology, how a clear slice adds white lumens, and costs color performance, complete with running the numbers. That’s a good trade-off many times, especially in projectors designed for brighter rooms.

The difference in the two wheels works out to a claimed 800 white lumens difference, but also a difference in color lumens (although we do not measure color lumens normally).

We are not talking huge differences, as you can see by this split screen image. (More such images in the picture quality pages.)

In these split screen photos, the upper image is the UHD65, while the lower half is the UHD60.  I cropped out part of the middle and brought down the top image so you can see the same content on both, one on top of the other.

UHD65 vs UHD60 Hitchhikers party

On a football game, for example, the UHD60 can tackle a bit more ambient light than the 65, and overall the image will look brighter. But, let’s say one of the teams has bright, almost-pure-red helmets. Those helmets will not be as bright as they should be, and the red will likely be darker, more red-wine colored, than that of a red balloon.

It comes down to this: When you are watching really high quality content like some movies, you’ll want the better color, but for say, a football game in ambient light, the UHD60’s extra white lumens will make the watching easier, even if the colors aren’t quite as good.

In this 2nd comparison image, look at Bond's face, under his eyes – you’ll notice more of a white in the brightest part of his skin on the lower projector – the UHD60, than in the 65. Remember, the UHD60 hasn’t been calibrated, but still, I would attribute that extra whiteness to the color wheel differences. The red lights in the background, a bit richer on the UHD65 as well.


Bottom Line – more useable brightness from the UHD60 when fighting ambient light, but no matter, both projectors are very similar overall. The UHD65 is the better choice though, if you are rainbow sensitive. If not, the UHD60 is overall the better value. Only the serious movie/picture quality fanatics (or RBE sensitive reviewers) probably really need to spend the extra on the UHD65.

TI's 4K UHD DLP Chip With 2716 X 1528 Resolution

It’s time for my usual FauxK vs 4K rant. I’ll try to be brief. Originally, the FauxK term was applied to pixel shifting 1080p resolution projectors – JVC first, then Epson as they rolled out a whole line of them. Those projectors, going back to 2011, could accept 4K content, process it, and feed it to chips that could fire twice, shifting a half pixel diagonally. This allows for more detail, but the pixel size (relative to true 4K) is huge – twice the diameter, four times the area. Think of 4K as a baseball, and 1080p pixel shifters as a softball, in terms of pixel size.

Now, enter the new TI consumer chip which also pixel shifts. It splits the difference in resolution at 2716 x 1528, just about half way between 1920 x 1080 and 3840 x 2160. But, like the lower-res pixel shifters, it still uses large pixels compared to true 4K. (Perhaps now visualize true 4K as golf ball sized pixels, 1528p projectors as having racquetball sized pixels and 1080p projectors having baseball sized ones… okay, that’s very rough).

The two images below are close ups of a much larger frame so as to better compare sharpness. The top one is the UHD65. The one below it is the Epson HC4000 – which is a 1080p pixel shifter. In this case, while the differences are subtle, the Optoma is sharper. (note, the original photo of the HC4000 was scaled from a lower resolution photo (which may emphasize the difference slightly).


Their chip is called a 4K UHD chip because it meets the 4K UHD standard, which isn’t as good as true 4K. 4K UHD only says you need to have 8.3 million pixels, but it doesn’t specify how large they can be, so it doesn’t tell you how good they are at resolving detail. Technically, you could pixel shift using a 720p chip 1280x720. Just shift them 9 times (instead of just once), and you get to the same 8.3 million pixels. However, this time, the pixels would each be the size of maybe baseballs compared to golf balls. The point is, 4K UHD is good. It’s better than 1080p pixel shifting (which doesn’t have a fancy “4K” in its name, even though those projectors also handle 4K content). All else being equal, it’s at least as much of a step down from true 4K as it is a step up from 1080p pixel shifting projectors!

A true 4K projector can resolve 3840 adjacent vertical lines each a different color. Both 1080p and 1528p pixel shifting resolutions will make total mush out of a test like that. How important? That’s up to you. Certainly, FauxK projectors offer a very affordable alternative to true 4K projectors, which still start at $8000 (with the exclusion of Sony’s VPL-VW285ES, which costs $5000), and don’t have really great black levels until $15,000. No doubt about it, the higher resolution 4K UHD chip that Optoma puts into this UHD60, as well as the UHD65 projector, will produce a slightly sharper image than the 1080p pixel shifters.

The trade-off for most folks not spending the big bucks, may come down to whether extra sharpness of the low cost 4K UHD projectors, like the UHD65, is enough to offset feature advantages, of the relatively feature laden 1080p pixel shifters, such as the directly competing Epson 5040UB – by far the most popular home theater projector in the $2000 – $3000 price range.

Optoma UHD60 Handling Of HDR

There are three major components touted when it comes to 4K. Obviously, first, is the resolution itself.  But at least as important are the implementation of two things – High Dynamic Range, and expanded Color space.  I’ll address HDR here, and color space below.

HDR – makes a difference.  I like to think of it this way when using it.  It essentially has  a different gamma – the picture is displayed with a greater difference in relative brightness between the brightest content, and average brightness content.  This gives the image more pop, less “compression” of the image’s dynamic range (in theory), and overall a more desirable feature.  But it does need lots of brightness, so there’s plenty of compromise – both with all home theater projectors, and for that matter with all but the most expensive of the “4K” LCD TVs and OLED TVs.

Here are two images – the first is 1080p content – so no HDR or expanded color, the second is 4K with HDR and expanded color.  That 2nd image, though, is our split screen with the UHD60 on the bottom (UHD65 on top), so compare the first image to the lower of the two images in the second one.  I managed to forget to shoot this image from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, full frame in HDR, my bad.

This folks, is the difference you are paying for:  The 4K HDR version (UHD65 and UHD60) is below the 1080p photo.

1080p version of the party in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
1080p version of the party in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
UHD65 vs UHD60 Hitchhikers party

The issue with most projectors is that the maximum brightness is a function that is relatively fixed – screen size, and projector brightness. Since that bright white explosion can’t get any brighter, to have the enhanced dynamic range, the mid-brightness areas have to be made darker. The end result is, with HDR running, most projectors tend to look at least a little dim in the mid and lower brightness ranges, compared to no HDR. But the increase in the pop – the “wow” factor – is such that most people find that a reasonable trade off. I have been most concerned about this since the first HDR content and capable projectors started shipping with Blu-ray UHD less than a year ago. To complicate matters, for many months the only Blu-ray UHD player available was the Samsung UDP-K8500. I bought one of those, of course. Since then, I have added the Philips and the Sony UBP-X1000ES to my Blu-ray UHD player collection. (I’m probably going to buy an Oppo as well.)

I was never happy with HDR on the Samsung. However, my opinion about HDR changed dramatically since I abandoned the K8500 in favor of other players that seem to do a significantly different – and better job – in that those mid and low brightness areas don’t come across anywhere near as dim as when using the Samsung. That was a huge relief to me, a better looking picture. Still, brightness is a concern.

The Optoma has one picture mode specifically for HDR, but HDR settings including Auto (detect), are available in all of the picture modes.

BT.2020 Color Space Related

Like the other DLP makers I’ve talked with regarding BT.2020 color space, they all say that they aren’t there yet, but some are a lot closer. I don’t think BT.2020 has been achieved by any lamp based projector but some of the lasers get close. P3 (similar) is reached by the best of the 4K capable projectors out there. Eric calibrated for widest color space, and still came up a good bit short.

The wider that color gamut, the more intense colors can be. It’s not just about saturation. The best color red you see on TV, say, a red balloon, is no match in terms of color compared to that same balloon in real life. BT.2020 (P3 too) gets us a good step closer to real, and puts us on par with cinema projectors. The ability to project a much larger color space than REC709 falls short on the Optoma.

Remember, this is first generation for DLPs tackling 4K content.

CFI and Other Image Enhancement

Creative Frame Interpolation – CFI – sometimes called smooth motion, is offered under Optoma’s trademark name of Pure Motion. It works.

Now, I like CFI for sports viewing (and turn it on when I remember), but I’ve always reported that I never use it for movies and rarely for normal HDTV viewing other than sports. Optoma offers multiple settings, which is good. Where they come up a bit short – even their lowest does more to the image than most other projector’s CFI, in that it is more noticeable. We often refer to that CFI look as soap opera effect, or “live digital video” (with faster frame rates than the slower movie frame rate of 24fps). Theirs is not too much for sports viewing, but it is very far from acceptable from movies as far as I’m concerned.

I consider CFI to be a nice extra feature overall, rather than a critical one that a projector needs (some sports fans might disagree).

The Optoma UHD60 has a number of other forms of image enhancement:

Ultra Detail – image processing to improve perceived sharpness and detail

Black levels –  Dynamic Black, which is a lamp dimming technique to lower black levels on dark scenes (same idea as a dynamic iris, but inferior, for several reasons). The problem with lamp based projectors is the lamps just can’t dim and brighten enough, fast enough, to not have some visible pumping or flickering on some scenes.

There’s also Pure Color, and Pure Contrast (I’ll let you guess what those are supposed to do). For calibration and review purposes, we did not use these two. Oh, and as this is a DLP, of course there’s Brilliant Color (Optoma’s version offers multiple settings of Brilliant Color).

UHD60 Lacks 3D

Bummer! This seems to be the trend with some new DLP projectors, but the big three of non-DLP projectors – JVC, Epson, and Sony, continue to offer 3D on their home theater models. The excuse I hear from those companies not offering 3D is, by my taste, pretty lame:

“There is no standard for 4K 3D!”

So what! Give us 1080 3D. These projectors can play 1080 2D content. To say no 3D because there’s no standard would be like also designing a projector to only play 4K content, and not be able to play all our 1080 HDTV, Blu-ray discs, etc.

Many, if not most, new 4K LCD TVs are also not supporting 3D, but they at least have a good excuse. The best ways to really immerse yourself in what you are watching are to have:

  1. A large viewing area (relative to your overall vision) – aka, movie theaters and projector based home theaters
  2. A darkened room (eliminating many distractions)
  3. 3D  – 3D takes you still another level in getting immersed in the content, but it works best, only if you have that large viewing area. Sadly, unless you want to sit 5 feet from that 60″ LCD TV, you aren’t getting all that immersed.  (I sit less than 10 feet from my 124″ screen – now that allows for some real immersion).

Disney and others (Marvel included) are still putting out lots of 3D to the theaters, and to disc. As long as they do, I want to watch some stuff in 3D. I’d hate to find myself upgrading my projector to one that lacks 3D when:

  1. a) I really like 3D, and
  2. b) I have invested in almost 50 3D titles (including everything Avengers/Marvel). If you have young children, they will love all that great Disney (and Universal’s Minions, etc.) in 3D. But not on this projector!

The lack of 3D is a strike against the UHD65, but only if you are one, like me, who wants to watch 3D, or has a family that does.

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