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The Optoma P1 4K UHD Laser Projector - Is this The Game Changer…

Posted on May 31, 2019 by Art Feierman

That finally brings the really big screen experience into your Family or Living Room?

Ready for Some Big 4K Excitement? And Big Sound? P1!

The 4K UHD Optoma P1 has been generating a lot of buzz since first announced and shown at the CES show in Las Vegas, back in January. Now that it is June, it won’t be much longer until they start shipping. I await the arrival of a P1 projector for my usual in-depth review!

Folks its always about the big screen, and being immersed in the content.  That's why we pay $10-$20 a ticket at our local Cinemaplex.  Save a fortune on popcorn - put one of these in your living room or family room (or theater/cave).

100" diagonal picture - a piece of cake.  120" diagonal, sure, why not? Even better!  Geez, 65" TVs seem awfully small.

P1 photo
I'm pleased to report, that the finished P1 projector easily met most of my expectations.

Once again, projector fans, I’ve whipped up a “custom” Advertorial. This time for Optoma. I’m focusing primarily on the Optoma P1, with its 3000 laser powered lumens for $2999! And, once again, I get to write this piece, (Optoma has editing privileges). My goal, however, is to provide as much insight as I can, without overhyping (beyond the headline of course!).

The P1 certainly isn’t the first 4K UHD laser projector, nor is it the first 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw Projector. Hey – it’s not even the first 4K UHD UST laser projector.

But, it is a 4K UHD Laser Projector – yes – UST – designed seriously for the home. And to my thinking, the first projector in its class, from a projector first manufacturer.

Pair the Optoma P1 with the proper screen – what is called an ALR – A Light Rejecting, screen. one designed for ultra short throw projectors. If you do that, you can pretty much enjoy this large screen system in the same rooms you could enjoy a typical LCD TV (but bigger makes for more enjoyment). Can you alternately put this projector in a dedicated theater? You bet, and it should be with most impressive results.

laser tv

Integrated into the design is also what we can call a rather powerful sound bar, with room-filling capabilities.  Optoma notes that the sound system is from well respected NuForce, which is part of the Optoma family of products.

sound bar is built in

I’m going to focus on the Optoma P1 for most of this feature, but Optoma has a couple of other projectors that are newsworthy, that I will introduce you to below. Both are a good deal more affordable than the P1, for those choosing to spend a bit less.

This article is designed to share what we already know, and to focus on our expectations for the P1. And why you should consider being excited!

Not all that familiar with home projectors? Optoma is one of the top players. Optoma is best known on the home side of projectors, for their series of gaming projectors (the “GT”s), but also in general for high quality, lower cost and mid-priced home projectors (typically under $2000). They have a full line of 4K UHD projectors.  Optoma also offers one of the most extensive line-ups of business and education projectors.

Meet The P1’s Combination Of Features that Make It Unique:

1st: It is a laser projector 3000 lumens bright!

2nd:  It is ultra short throw.  That will place it on a table or credenza only inches below your  screen – up to 120” in diagonal!  And,  it will sit only inches back from that screen – thus the UST moniker - “ultra short throw.”

3rd – It is specifically designed, optimized for home use.

4th – The P1 think's it is pretty smart – with Alexa and Google Assistant support, an App store with Apps for Netflix and other services.   It also supports IFTTT (for smart home integration).

5th – Bigger sound! No surprise at all, thanks to the isolated, internal NuForce sound bar.

Competition? The P1 certainly isn’t the first UST laser projector for home. But that first laser UST - by comparison - has been sold only as a complete system bundled with screen (and some good sound), starting at $8000. A full system built around the Optoma P1 could sell for half as much!  

The P1 may very well be the game changer!

That is in part, because this Optoma laser projector – the P1, unlike their earlier UHZ65, was designed for home, in addition to being UST, laser, etc..  Last year’s UHZ65 turned out to be a strong entry for business, but, just not optimized for home capabilities.  It was also a traditional long throw design not an ultra short throw design like this P1.

Mind you, to quote Robert Heinlein, one of the all-time greatest Sci-fi writers:  “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

iPhone photo
Optoma P1 in action. This Greatest Showman frame captured with iPhone video at CES Jan 2019, in the Optoma booth. Ambient light in the room was moderate to low. SI Black Diamond UST ALR Screen.

I say that because for the Optoma P1 to truly be a game changer, it needs to have multiple elements of its game come together:  

I’m not concerned about the P1’s abilities to do good color.  Optoma has long had great skills there.  

On the other hand, Optoma has to show us how good of a “smart projector” it will prove to be.  Projectors are finally just starting to get smart.  

Optoma’s first generation smart projector – the UHD51A -- launched (a year ahead of the P1) with Alexa and Google Assistant abilities but at the time, rather limited in those features.   We now expect improved installation and operation of Apps like Netflix…  The P1 should work more like a smart TV in terms of smarts (i.e. Sony, LG), than to their first smart projector.    A year is a long time when it comes to improving smarts.  One example Optoma demonstrated, was to lower the sound of the projector when someone rings your Ring video doorbell.

How important are “smarts?”  When it comes to those smarts, keep in mind that smarts provide convenience, but not really a better viewing experience.   Most people should definitely more interested in the quality of the image on the screen than how many P1 commands that Alexa can work with, or the number of apps.  

bicycle image on P1
P1 4K UHD image from iPhone video at CES. Moderate to low ambient light. SI Black Diamond ALR screen

When it comes to smarts, we are looking to see Optoma provide a well working, reliable set of smarts, apps, etc.  But we only count that for so much of the value proposition. 

Consider, for example:  If you have a 4K UHD Blu-ray player, it too will be smart, and have Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc. on it.  The same is true for some AV receivers. The point being, that smarts, and apps can be on other devices, rather than being built into a “smart” projector.   Optoma getting the smarts right, however, will make the P1 a pretty unique, and polished, large screen solution, rather than being a bit “rough around the edges.”  Home theater enthusiasts, it should be noted, will quite often be willing to put up with some of those rough edges, in exchange for picture quality and the overall viewing experience.

A Tale of Two (Other) Optoma Home Projectors

The Optoma UHL55 Smart 4K Home Theater Projector with Amazon Alexa
The UHL55 really is rather compact. (It seems much larger in photos without scale.) LED light engine!

UHL55:  The trend is to solid state projectors – whether LED or laser.  With that in mind, at half the price of the P1, is Optoma’s $1499 UHL55 (the L stands for LED), which is more “home entertainment, than home theater.  Don’t expect it to rival the P1, but consider that its competition is primarily other 4K UHD projectors, that are lamp based.  Optoma throws in some big sound there too, (but not remotely a  match for the P1’s internal NuForce sound bar.

With the UHL55 here’s your chance to buy into both 4K UHD sharpness, and long life solid state design (20,000 hours – 40 hours a week for 10 years), saving a small fortune in replacement lamps.  Long term the UHL55 should cost you less than any lamp based 4K UHD around.

Something new - a very affordable, 1080p projector that can accept 4K HDR content. Very interesting!

HD27HDR:  For those into both picture and gaming on a budget, and willing to sacrifice a little in sharpness  in exchange for a projector at a rock bottom price point, Optoma serves up the latest version in its HD27 series, the HD27HDR!  

The HD27HDR starts out as a standard 1080p home projector (3D capable too), with 3400 claimed lumens, but Optoma has provided the necessary support so the projector can play 4K UHD content from 4K UHD disc!  Since it works with the HDR color that sets 4K apart and above 1080p in picture quality, you get the HDR benefits, at the 1080p price point.  Nice!   

The HD27HDR is also a very fast gaming projector!   It’s a tough value to beat, with street prices online typically around $600 for a projector that tackles HDR.  It may not be quite as sharp as a true 4K UHD projector, but for the price – there’s nothing like it.  It too, “has game.”

Optoma P1 – The Last Word – For Now

When the P1 arrives I will review it, using both an SI ALR screen (Black Diamond), designed specifically for UST projectors, and also with my Stewart Studiotek 130, a traditional screen in my theater.   I’ll be using the ALR screen in a family/living room environment.   The P1 should be very happy in either world.

P.T. Barnum - Jackman, in Greatest Showman
PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman) dancing in The Greatest Showman. 4K HDR/P3 content from 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. (capture from iPhone video)

The P1 offers millions of folks a simple, long life and almost absurdly affordable large screen experience in virtually any room in your home with decent lighting control.   

I know what you are waiting for:  Our full, in-depth review, and of course, the P1 to start shipping!

Meantime, here’s more information on Optoma home theater projectors, our CES video on the P1, and a link to our UHL55 info.  Once we post our in-depth review (June 2019) we will add a link to it on this page as well.


Optoma Home Theater, Home Entertainment, Gaming Projectors

Optoma UHL55 – A First Look Review
Optoma P1 Video/Interview in their suite at CES 2019

Three very different projectors all impressive, at three very different price points.  Maybe it's not just the P1, but rather Optoma, "that's got game!"  -art

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