Posted on December 20, 2017 By Ron Jones
Optoma UHZ65 4K Laser Projector Review – Summary: Overview, Performance with HD Content, Performance with UHD Content, Use for a Business/Education Application, The Competition
The Optoma UHZ65 4K Laser Projector - Home Theater, Business and Education
HDTV as projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from Passengers, projected in 4K by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from Lucy, projected in 4K by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from Casino Royale, projected in 4K by the Optoma UHZ65.
I’ll start off with a few observations about the Optoma UHZ65.
Like all the 4K capable projectors out there, I find it necessary to look at 4K content handling separately from traditional 1080p and lower resolution content that we’re used to. HDR poses a challenge for all projectors and most LCD TVs because HDR is dependent on having a whole lot of brightness available. As a result, whether you are buying a projector with 1000 – 3000 usable lumens, or the typical lower cost LCD TVs (that handle 4K), the brightness HDR calls for just isn’t available. Translated, that means some compromise in achieving what HDR promises.
HDTV Content projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from The Fifth Element, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from Casino Royale, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
Forgetting 4K for the moment, I’m fairly pleased with the picture. I’ve viewed a couple movies from HD Blu-ray discs as well as a few TV shows from Directv during the evaluation of the UHZ65.. Generally the flesh tones looked good, but off a little in a few cases.. I can say that the usual JVC, Sonys and Epsons are more precise when it comes to looking “on the money” in terms of color accuracy, but we don’t need to be perfectionists to enjoy a good picture.
The Optoma UHZ65 is good at sports viewing, thanks to it’s sharpness and lack any visible motion blur. The Pure Motion (CFI) is a little “strong” but that’s fine for sports. Most home theater owners will probably won’t use it anyway for movie viewing.
For a $4500 MSRP projector, it falls short of the non-DLP competition is delivering really good black levels. Its Dynamic Black feature helps, but over use causes noticeable black level pumping.
A scene from Mad Max, projected in 4K by the Optoma UHZ65.
Here’s where the improvement is needed, not that there’s anything particularly bad about the picture. HDR could use improvements in terms of handling the dynamic range of the images. I found that the brighter highlights were being clipped (i.e., blown-out), and lowering the contrast adjustment didn’t seem to help much. Optoma’s attempt isn’t bad for a 1st generation UHD/HDR projector, but its a step behind other manufactures that are now on their 2nd or 3rd generation of HDR enabled projectors. I would note that I was informed just as this review was being finalized that there is new a firmware release for the UHZ65 that is said to make some improvements to HDR, but I have not had the opportunity to review what improvement may be included.
Also the lack of the ability to display a wide color gamut, something close the DCI-P3 color space, is needed in order to take full advantage of what UHD has to offer and the UHZ65 is stuck with what is essentially the more limited Rec. 709 color space.
While Optoma is marketing the UHZ65 for home theater use, they are also marketing this model for use in business and education applications. The priorities, in terms of a projector’s performance and features, for these markets are frequently different from the what a typical home theater user is most concerned about. Business and education projectors typically do not have really low black levels, high contrast, nor highly accurate colors. Rather, buyers of such projectors are frequently more concerned about low maintenance, high brightness, the ability to remotely monitor/control the projector via a network connection, sharp image, etc. The UHZ65 does “check the box” for at least several of the capabilities that a buyer of business/education projector may be seeking.
The UHZ65 is spec’ed as a 3000 lumen projector and meets that spec. value in its brightest configuration. However, as with most projector’s brightest mode, the color accuracy wasn’t very good. Even so, it could be considered usable for many business or education applications where maximum light output is needed to overcome less than ideal ambient room lighting conditions. To get to a picture mode with more accurate colors the projector’s light output drops to the 2000 lumen range. Optoma does offer laser powered projectors in their professional projector series with substantially higher light output (up to 8200 lumens), but none of those models offer the pseudo 4K resolution of the UHZ65.
While the projector’s brightness is certainly not great for a model in this price range, its the use of a laser light engine, instead of a conventional lamp, that it the big selling point of this model. The two attributes that laser light source brings are: lower maintenance as periodic lamp replacements are eliminated; and a more stable picture over time (probably less important for most business/education applications). Optoma’s spec. sheet lists the expected life of the laser at 20,000 hours, which is typical for such laser projectors. This can be especially important for business/commercial applications where the projector is to be used in a applications where it is being used for many hours a day.
The UHZ65 supports control and management via a wired network (Ethernet) service and also control via an “old fashioned” RS232 connection. The UHZ65 is compatible with control systems from Crestron, Extron, AMX and computer based management using PJLink software. It can also be controlled from a web browser based interface. So this model will satisfy most business/education needs for control and management of their multi-projector installations.
While the UHZ65 cannot provide the full 4K resolution of a projector using native 4K display chips, it is a step up from what’s possible with a 1080p (with or without pixel shifting) model. This means not only that PowerPoint slides can be displayed very sharp, when connected to a PC/Mac capable of outputting in 4K format, but also this projector could be useful for displaying highly detailed technical drawings that can be viewed close up.
When considered as a business or education projector the UHZ65 offers a viable set of features for making it worth consideration in this market segment, especially if the bump up in resolution above 1080p or WUXGA (1920 x 1200) is of benefit.
The competition for the Optoma UHZ65 among home theater projectors falls into two categories. First will be similar 4K DLP projectors, with laser light sources, coming from other manufacturers. This includes the Acer VL7860. The other category of competing projectors will be the lamp based models from the likes of Sony and JVC. For just $500 more than the Optoma, Sony is offering their new VPL-VW285ES (reviewed HERE). This is a native 4K projector that includes features, such as power zoom and focus, missing on the Optoma UHZ65. The Sony also offers lower native black levels and a higher contrast ratio as well as better color accuracy. JVC offers their model DLA-RS540 at a list price $500 less than the Optoma and the JVC uses pixel shifting along with 1080p chips for the display of 4K content. It also has more features including full lens memory as well and support both HDR and WCG for 4K/UHD content. Finally, don’t ignore Epson’s Home Cinema 5040 (reviewed HERE) for just $2700 that also is a pixel shifting 1080p projector with plenty of features.
If considering the UHZ65 for a business or education application them the competition will include many 1080p and WUXGA (1920 x 1200) models, both those that are lamp-based as well as those using laser light engines. As for competition offering 4K compatibility, either via pixel shifting or native 4K, there are also a few of those, including some similar 4K DLP models with laser light engines coming from other manufacturers, such as the Acer VL7860. A good starting point to learn about competing projectors in this price range is our 2017-2018 Classroom Projector Report – HERE. However, some of the more recent models are not included in that report.
We recently reviewed the Casio XJ-L8330HN (review is – HERE) which uses the same DLP 4K display chip but incorporated in a commercial grade 5000 lumen large venue laser projector. This high-end model is much more expensive than the Optoma UHZ65.
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