Projector Reviews

Philips Screeneo U4 Ultra-Short-Throw 4LED Projector Review – Performance

COLOR REPRODUCTION

Philips states the Screeneo U4 has “LED RGGB 4 channels with 108% Rec. 709 cinema coverage”. In Picture Preset, you will find five user-selected picture modes: Cinema, Standard, Vivid, Game, and User. Next, there’s Brightness Mode, where you can choose from Presentation, Normal, or Night Mode. The most accurate factory Picture Preset mode was Standard with the Brightness Mode set to Normal. Placing the Screeneo U4 in a dark room, as Philips recommends, or at least a room with minimal ambient light helps the image quality tremendously.

These images provide an overall idea of color accuracy. However, when viewing in person, the colors look better than how the images look on the display of the device you are using to read this review.

The Philips Screeneo U4’s Picture Preset called User allows adjusting many image parameters, including Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Hue, and Sharpness. The also projector has additional adjustability utilizing the projector’s HDR Brightness and Color Temperature settings.

BRIGHTNESS

The Screeneo U4’s 4LED light source is rated to last up to 30,000 hours. 4LED projectors, by definition, are LED projectors that add a supplementary “pump” LED to the 3LED ecosystem, whose light is also to increase the overall output of green light. By adding this separate light, the output of light increases overall brightness compared to a 3LED projector. It should also be noted that 4LED power consumption is far lower than traditional lamp-based projectors.

Philips advertises the brightness of the Screeneo U4 at 400 ANSI lumens. However, I also measured the Screeneo U4’s brightness. To measure the brightness, I set the projector’s Brightness Mode to Presentation and the Picture Preset to User, which together are the projector’s brightest settings. I then took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.

The Screeneo U4 measured 625 ANSI lumens at maximum brightness, which is well above the Philips Screeneo U4’s published 400 ANSI lumens specification. However, don’t let the ANSI lumens throw you off. As long as you are in a dark room, precisely as Philips recommends for the Screeneo U4, the projector should be bright enough for many end-users needs. However, it should be noted that the 90 ANSI lumens I got on the Cinema mode Picture Preset rendered the mode unusable in my personal testing environments. It was too dim, even at night, with all my window shades closed and all lights turned off. Luckily, User mode saved the day and had the ANSI lumens I needed to enjoy the projector. I measured all five available Picture Preset modes; my measurements are below.

 Brightness by Picture Preset  
Picture Preset Brightness Mode (ANSI Lumens)
Cinema 90
Standard 190
Vivid 217
Game 139
User 625

CONTRAST / BLACK LEVEL

The Philips Screeneo U4’s blacks are a shade of dark gray and not deep black. The elevated blacks were more noticeable when watching darker scenes at night in my testing rooms. When evaluating a projector’s picture, I also like to consider the projector’s likely usage case. For example, even though the Screeneo U4’s black levels could be better, UST projectors like the Screeneo U4 are not meant to compete against home theater projectors with ultra-deep blacks that cost thousands of dollars. Therefore, the Screeneo U4’s price point makes it more accessible for customers looking for a compact UST who are not prioritizing ultra-deep blacks from their projectors. On the other hand, suppose you are looking for a projector that can provide extraordinary shadow detail and ultra-deep black levels. In that case, you may need to look elsewhere and be prepared to drop significantly more money on your projector purchase.

When paired with my 110-inch Screen Innovations Solo Pro 2 Unity AT Pure White 1.3 gain screen and 103-inch Elite Screens Aeon CLR® 3 Series ALR screen, the Screeneo U4 produced acceptable images in my testing environment. The Aeon CLR® 3 Series ALR screen material has a gain of 0.8 and improved the black level when watching content in a room with ambient light. However, keep in mind that the increased black levels come at the expense of some screen brightness.

VIDEO QUALITY

The Philips Screeneo U4’s video quality was acceptable out-of-the-box. However, changing the Picture Preset, HDR Brightness, Brightness Mode, and Color Temperature significantly altered the on-screen image for the better. I first set the Screeneo U4’s Brightness Mode to Normal. Next, I toggled the Picture Preset between Standard and User to project the best images in my projector testing rooms. The superior image was with the Picture Preset set to User because I could fine-tune the Screeneo U4’s image to specifically suit my viewing environment. As seen below, I took various photos. Like all our photos, they are unadjusted for color. As a result, the images do not appear as good as what the projector produced in my testing environment.

Most live broadcasts and TV shows will continue to be produced in HD for numerous years, making good upscaling a critical feature. Whether I watched 720p sports from ESPN or 1080p Blu-ray content, it all looked good with the Screeneo U4. The Screeneo U4’s ability to upscale is good.

The Screeneo U4 supports HDR10. After the Screeneo U4 auto-detects metadata or Electro-Optical Transfer Function (EOTF) info from HDR content, HDR becomes available. HDR sends static metadata to the video stream, which is encoded information on color calibration settings required to make images look more like the content creator’s intentions. HDR is best for displaying HDR movies.

AUDIO QUALITY

The Screeneo U4’s built-in 2.1 speakers (2 x 15W) have a surprising amount of bass for such a compact projector. The Screeneo U4 has two Sound Preset modes, Cinema and Music. Switching the Sound Preset from Cinema to Music made the tiny speakers come to life. Remember that the Screeneo U4 has an HDMI ARC if you want to attach it to a soundbar or an AV Receiver to take advantage of high-quality sound.

The projector can pair with multiple audio devices with the Screeneo U4’s dual Bluetooth 5.0 technology. You can set up a pair of stereo speakers or watch a movie privately with a friend on two separate sets of earphones simultaneously with independent volume control.

While we do not measure audible noise, I measured the fan noise produced by the Screeneo U4 between 37dB and 41dB, depending on the Brightness Mode. Night Mode was the quietest at 37dB, and Presentation was the loudest at 41dB. With the volume set low, I could hear the Screeneo U4’s fan from my seated position about 14 feet to the projector’s rear. However, I did not notice the fan noise once I started listening to music and watching movies with the volume set to anything above low the low setting.

GAMING

Under Picture Preset, the Screeneo U4 has a dedicated gaming mode simply called Game. If a projector claims they have a dedicated gaming mode, the gamer in me makes it mandatory for me to test it out for you all. The Game mode was a little low on lumens for my liking, but I still had fun playing with an 80-inch image. Philips claims the Screeneo U4 has a 30ms input lag at a 60Hz refresh rate (1080p). I played some of the best games of 2022 with the Philips Screeneo U4. To name a few, I tested out playing Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7, and Horizon – Forbidden West with the Screeneo U4. While you won’t be bringing the Screeneo U4 along with you to an Esports gaming competition, the projector performed well enough to satisfy most casual gamers.