But, the Sony is strictly 1080p and lower – no ability to accept 4K content, and, of course, being a three panel (chip) LCoS projector (Sony calls that SXRD), it can’t deliver perfectly aligned panels. Add to that, that the Optoma UHD60 is inherently higher resolution, gives the Optoma a real win over this Sony on sharpness. Or, rather, a noticeable difference, as, if the Sony could handle 4K content as a 1080p projector, the Optoma would look even better in comparison, than comparing them both using 1080p content.
I’m a big fan of the Sony, but a bigger fan of projectors that can support 4K content – there you go, another bias.
That really leaves the two Epsons – the HC4000 and the HC5040UB. If your budget is limited to $2K or less, that would be the HC4000, which is dripping in features, like motorized lens (with more zoom range) with lens memory, a huge number of image enhancement tools (you don’t want to go crazy – moderation is in order).
I favor the Epson HC4000 for all the hardware and firmware goodies, the rather very good right out of the box color, and much greater placement flexibility. The Optoma, however, wins on sharpness and slightly on black level performance. Again, these are trade-offs, so your room conditions and the type of content you watch should help you decide.
Lastly is the HC5040UB, which I figure is the highest performance projector anywhere near the price. It has all the features and capabilities of the HC4000, but with black levels that are by far the best under $3500, a magnitude (or two) better than the HC4000 or either Optoma. But, officially, you are at $2500 for that Epson, so in fairness, it’s competing against the UHD65, not the UHD60. This Epson, by the way, isn’t as bright tackling HDR (a weakness), and again, it’s a 1080p pixel shifter, so it’s pixels are 50% larger in diameter than the Optomas, making it not as naturally sharp.
The rest of the field are under $2000 projectors, including others from Optoma, Epson BenQ, Viewsonic, etc. but lacking 4K content handling, I don’t consider them competition. I only count the Sony because of its especially great picture quality (it too can’t touch the black levels of the Epson 5040UB, but should be slightly better at blacks than the UHD60). This year, I gave awards in our annual report, for under $2K, to the UHD60 and the HC4000. Last year, one of those awards went to the HW45, so my bias for 4K content handling is showing.
Oops, one more thing, BenQ just announced an interesting new projector set to ship January 2018 that uses an even newer DLP chip. This one is another pixel shifter, one that can handle 4K content, but this new chip, instead of being 2716x1528x2 (or 1920x1080x2 for the 1080p pixel shifters), this one is 1920x1080x4 – so it fires each pixel 4 times. Could be very interesting! BenQ came by a few days ago and teased me with it. Small, impressive, but I won't get to sink my teeth into it until the end of December or early January. We will almost certainly post the review before it starts shipping as they promised a late engineering sample.
The Very Bottom Line: You have choices, that Vivitek, the BenQ just mentioned, or the Acer are direct competitors. Come January, the new BenQ with it's 1080p pixel shifting (1920x1080x4) will also compete. Which I favor will be clearer in the next few weeks, but count the UHD60 as a projector better outside of a dedicated home theater or cave, than in one. So, call it home entertainment, or home theater, and drop it in a media room, living room, family room or spare bedroom. Match it with the right screen (we have videos to help you), and fire up some sports, or HDTV in general. The UHD60 will do a respectable job on movies, but, again, if you are an enthusiast after great performance on movies, you’ll do yourself a favor if you can find the extra $500 to move up the food chain one notch, to the UHD65, or even better (due to black levels), the Epson.
If you are the person that never paid much attention to your LCDTV, ran everything in the same mode, etc., the UHD60 is probably a great fit, because you are more into the large immersive image than quibbling over slight performance differences in picture quality. I can appreciate that.
UHD60 vs UHD65
Is the nearly identical UHD65 worth the extra $500, for a faster, better color wheel? That depends on how enthusiastic you are in having a great picture, not just a big one. The differences will not be substantial, so most folks buying a first projector, who don't have a cave like room, will probably be perfectly happy with the UHD60 and some more change in their pocket. If you are an enthusiast, you can justify the difference, but I suspect the UHD60 will, as more of a home entertainment projector (slightly) will significantly outsell the UHD65, simply because a lot will end up in less than great rooms. Either one, though, should dazzle first time projector owners.
In other words, the UHD60 gets you 4K handling (a very good thing) at an affordable price, and that should appeal to the masses, while its big brother will be favored by more of the enthusiast types.