4K Projectors

Not all “4K” Projectors are created equal…

Sony's VPL-VW285ES is the first projector that offers true 4K resolution under $5000.
Sony’s VPL-VW285ES is the first true 4K projector under $5000

That is, some projectors can reproduce true 4K resolution while others can just accept 4K content and use techniques to get improved results out of an HD resolution display.

A native 4K projector has at least 8.3 megapixels, with no pixel overlapping. A pixel shifting 4K projector uses chips that are less than 8.3 megapixels, but fire them multiple times with pixel shifting to deliver a perceived 8 megapixels.

The list of projectors below includes both types. First are projectors with true 4K panels/chips with either 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 resolution. Next are 1080P models which can accept 4K content and then utilize techniques like pixel shifting to deliver an image that is sharper than 2K or 1080p.

 

4K Projectors

4K Projector Reviews

Image Review
Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K SXRD Home Theater Laser Projector Review
Review Date: September 8, 2020 | MSRP: $19,999.99 | Technology: 3 LCoS panels (SXRD)
Hisense 100L10E Laser TV Review
Review Date: August 20, 2020 | MSRP: $6,999 | Technology: DLP
TI DLP® Technology Meets LED, Gets Brighter, and Together, Take On Traditional Lamp Projectors!
Review Date: August 3, 2020 | MSRP: | Technology:
Sony Introduces Flagship 4K SXRD Laser Projector for Professional Applications
Review Date: July 28, 2020 | MSRP: | Technology:
Optoma CinemaX P1 Laser TV Review: A Smart, 4K UHD Projector For The Really Big Screen Experience
Review Date: June 5, 2020 | MSRP: $6649 | Technology: DLP
Epson’s Laser Projectors Transform the World We Know in Entertainment Venues and Other Large-Scale Environments
Review Date: May 1, 2020 | MSRP: | Technology:
Sony VPL-VW695ES Review: The Native 4K Home Theater Projector With Premium Performance
Review Date: March 23, 2020 | MSRP: $9999 | Technology: SXRD (3)
ViewSonic X10-4KE Home Entertainment Projector Review
Review Date: February 28, 2020 | MSRP: $1,499 | Technology: 3 Chip DLP
HT9060 Projector Review: BenQ’s Flagship 4K UHD Home Theater Projector
Review Date: February 15, 2020 | MSRP: $8999 | Technology: DLP
LG HU70LA CINEBEAM THINQ 4K PROJECTOR REVIEW
Review Date: January 26, 2020 | MSRP: $1,799 | Technology: DLP
Epson Pro L1070U Commercial Projector: Our First-Look Review of Key Features and Capabilities
Review Date: January 21, 2020 | MSRP: $8463 | Technology: 3LCD
NEC’s Laser Projectors: With Great Performance, Plus Innovation – Comes Great Value!
Review Date: January 19, 2020 | MSRP: | Technology:
JVC LX-NZ3 4K Laser DLP Projector Review
Review Date: December 31, 2019 | MSRP: $3,699 | Technology: DLP
Optoma UHD52ALV Home Entertainment Projector: Our First-Look Review of Key Features and Capabilities
Review Date: December 16, 2019 | MSRP: $1,799 | Technology: Single chip, DLP
VAVA Laser TV Review: 2500 Lumens of 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw Projector For The Whole Family
Review Date: December 2, 2019 | MSRP: $2,799.99 | Technology: DLP
Epson Home Cinema 3200 Home Theater Projector Review
Review Date: November 27, 2019 | MSRP: $1,499 | Technology: 3 LCD
Epson Home Cinema 3800 Home Theater Projector: Our First-Look Review of Key Features and Capabilities
Review Date: November 27, 2019 | MSRP: $1699 | Technology: 3LCD
2019 Holiday Guide To Seven Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000
Review Date: November 22, 2019 | MSRP: | Technology:
2019 Holiday Guide To Five Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000
Review Date: November 22, 2019 | MSRP: | Technology:
Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review
Review Date: November 15, 2019 | MSRP: $3999 | Technology: 3 LCD

About 4K Projectors

2K Pixel shifting projectors using 1080p or other 2 megapixel devices (panels/chips). The pixel structure is far larger – that is, each pixel is 4X the size of a true 4K.  The each pixel fires twice, after shifting diagonally by half a pixel, so it can resolve a bit more detail from 4K content that without pixel shifting, but due to the pixel size, I don’t see them as true 4K devices.  They can market it that way, but with 4K content if you have fine lines in your image – big difference.

Those pixel shifting projectors’ claim to “4K space” is in their ability to accept 4K content, not their ability to fully resolve it.

3K Pixel Shifting Projectors:  Next – this third class is higher resolution than the “2K pixel shifters”.  I’m talking about those using TI’s new 4 megapixel DLP chip.  Read that carefully – we’re talking 4 megapixels, not 4K resolution.  4K resolution is 8 megapixels (3840×2160 or similar).  The resolution is  I don’t have the spec yet – which works out to really being a 3K projector.

TI’s new chip will have pixel shifting capabilities so that will place their new projectors that use it, almost exactly half way between the 2K pixel shifters, and the true 4K projectors when it comes to resolution.

The thing is that the UHD 4K standard counts the TI chip as being 4K.  The argument is based on addressability, though not resolution.  Since the chip has 4 million pixels, and each one fires once, then shifts and fires again, with possibly different data, that’s 8 million addressable, which is the same number has having a true 4K chip with each pixel firing only once.

OK, I get it, but the pixels are still twice the size, and they are overlapping, that means they just can’t resolve near as much detail

Finally the 4th type of “4K” projector doesn’t exist yet.  Basically those will be some additional projectors using 1080p or WUXGA chip sets (but no pixel shifting), but add the ability to take in 4K content, deal with it and project it best it can, just like 720p projectors can accept 1080p content.

4K Projector Pricing

As of January of 2016, there are few 4K projectors shipping.  The least expensive on the home theater side, has a list price of $9999, the most expensive (short of a true commercial movie theater projector) is $60,000

On the commercial/education/business side, prices are even higher to start.  For example Canon’s only 4K projector is $54,990.  Sony’s got a few models so prices come down into the $20K range. Of course over the next couple of years we should see far more 4K projectors shipping, and that will drive prices down considerably.

“Pixel shifting 4K projectors” for the home market start at $4000 for the least expensive JVC and $8K for the Epson LS10000 laser projector.

No pricing at the time of this writing for the first of those 4 Megapixel projectors, the first to ship is likely to be an Optoma, which is expected to ship Q1 2016.

Conclusion

Perhaps the most important message was the first one. If you need the absolute best resolution, you are talking about a true 4K projector – one with about 8 million separate pixels, that will hit your screen with light without any overlap.

There will be plenty of 1080p and WUXGA resolution projectors coming that will be able to accept 4K content, but no matter what the image processing, it all comes down to the most important thing being relative pixel size. A 2K (1080p, etc.) pixel is still huge by comparison, and a 3K DLP chip is still using pixels that are 2X that of a true 4K projector.

There is need for 4K. For home, with a true 4K projector you can finally sit close enough to a screen to get really immersed and still have a razor sharp image. For other uses, the resolution aids in presenting anything requiring great detail, renderings, engineering, satellite photos…

4K Projectors – It’s about time!;