Projector Reviews

VAVA Laser TV Review- Picture Quality 2

VAVA 4K UHD Laser TV – Picture Quality 2: 4K HDR Movies and Content, HDTV Streaming and Sports, Overall Picture Quality

4K HDR: Movies and Other Content

Movies and Sports are probably the two top reasons folks choose projectors – including Laser TVs, instead of tiny HDTVs. At least those are my two top reasons. I’m really a “movies first” kind of guy, except during football season, then I become a sports fanatic for five months. Of course, I stream some content – and watch some HDTV as well. I watched movies from 4K UHD Blu-ray disc as well as from Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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With 1017 calibrated lumens to work with, the VAVA is relatively bright, in order to handle 4K with HDR. The HDR picture as with virtually all projectors, when properly mapped, will have a look that falls somewhere between full High Dynamic Range, and Standard Dynamic Range (SDR). The VAVA handles this balance fairly well in that the picture isn’t more “SDR” (that is, having less pop (and wow factor). The similarly priced BenQ HT5550 (a standard throw projector – and one with a dynamic iris) that sells for slightly less, is an example of a great projector value, but one where the HDR content looks more SDR than it needs to.

For that living room, or other family room, don’t forget – you really want an ALR (light rejecting) screen which can really up the picture quality when around modest to moderate ambient light.

Overall, I’ve found watching my fav 4K HDR movies rather enjoyable on the VAVA. The reasonably accurate post-calibration color, combined with decent black level performance, produces an overall well-balanced movie experience. (Most movies have some pretty dark scenes, which is why it’s best to watch them in a darkened room.) If instead, the content is all room lit, or outdoors daytime lighting, it will look The internal speakers provide plenty of volume and not at all tinny, although no they are no substitute for a serious surround sound system.

If you are happy with the sound quality of a pretty powerful soundbar, you’ll be pleased. If you are an audiophile (like me), you’ll want more, especially when watching things like concerts, music performances on late-night TV.

My comments are based on using our calibrated settings. If you choose to stick to the preset modes, the overall picture quality is a real step down, so try our settings – you’ll see the difference.

Skin tones (when movie watching) are fine. Not really great, since the VAVA doesn’t calibrate as well as some home projectors with better controls, and as discussed, black levels could be deeper/darker.

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Again, think of the VAVA Laser TV as another family HDTV. And probably like the others, once set up, your family will be concentrating on watching it, not playing with settings. Please note, some “TV” and streaming content shares the same kind of excellent production qualities, in terms of picture and sound, as a good movie. Think of Game of Thrones as a great example.

Close the shades, kill the lights, and light up the screen.

HDTV Streaming and Sports

For Sports, the VAVA does a great job. As long as your room lighting is under decent control, you can enjoy that football game (or even eight football games at once (DirecTV), on a 100 inch, 120 inch and possibly a larger screen, although I don’t think I can really recommend larger than 120” unless the room is very, very good (like a typical home theater).

My assorted images should give you a good idea of how much ambient light can be handled and still have a pretty great image on your screen.

Let me point this out. When we first landed at the new place, I set up the VAVA at 120” diagonal size, on a textured wall. Not ideal the texture was obvious when watching (it was only a couple of days until I set up the 120” diagonal screen in my new mini-theater). The VAVA despite a pretty bright room did well enough for my football viewing that first weekend.

Here are some images from my brighter than most living room with no shades on five sliding glass doors, and light blinds on three bay windows in the room (sunny day) and two at night, same setup.

VAVA Laser TV doing football on a sunny day, no screen. Still plenty of brightness (120” diagonal), for sports viewing.

 

As you can see in this first image, the ambient light is washing the image out slightly, but the game still looks nice and bright, vey watchable. (the ambient light was less of a distraction than the textured wall being used as a screen, in this case).

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Another daytime image, same ambient light levels, but lower exposure to give you a better indication of what your eyes will adjust to seeing. The result is pretty good considering this is what the room looks like brightness wise.

 

living room ambient light
This is the typical sunny day, daytime viewing in my new living room “home entertainment” setup. The room ambient looks like this for the daytime football photos in this room.

 

In these third and fourth images – Monday night football. It’s dark outside. Some lights on in the adjacent kitchen (left side), most of the rest of the light is reflecting back from the large image. The image is dynamic and rich in color. The reflected ambient light hasn’t little effect at all on the picture quality.

More Monday Night Football in the living room, 120” screen 1080i content from cable. Vibrant!

 

Note, these four living room images were taken with my iPhone, in real-time, which is why you see some blurring on some of the photos.

In addition here’s two more photos, this time taken at the rental property back in September, with the outside light coming in from behind the screen (sliders on the left, window on the right:

The VAVA laser TV doing sports – pre-calibration, afternoon ambient light.

 

I did not take additional sports images when the VAVA moved into my new mini-theater/testing room. Obviously in a almost fully darkened room the sports pops even more than the Monday Night Football images (and no textured walls)!

Bottom Line on Sports – A blast – get the proper screen, or put good shades on your windows, or both, but with a vibrant 120” football game on, you will be the envy of your neighbors!

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I was most pleased when viewing the latest episodes of The Blacklist. James Spader as Red, offered good skin tones on the opening scene of the pilot seen in our regular image featured in many reviews. Other Blacklist images demonstrate sharpness and general picture quality, for 4K content that currently is not available with HDR.

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VAVA Laser TV – 1080p Movies

No issues at all with 1080 content. Color was consistent with 4K. I watched segments from several 1080p movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship, The Italian Job and some animation – including Space Jam), off of disc as well as streaming a couple of flicks off of Amazon Prime starting with an old Cary Grant movie. (I’m liking Amazon Prime’s respectable collection of older classic movies – when I finally get around to signing up for Disney’s service, and Apple’s, I should be pretty set with a large streaming movie collection).

Black levels were as mentioned on the previous page, with little difference between SDR and HDR. Sadly, my copy of Casino Royale, which I use for the “night train scene” my fav test of practical handling of very dark scenes, is missing from this review because I haven’t found that disc after the cross country move. I’m ordering another, but not in time.

VAVA LT002 Laser TV: Overall Picture Quality

If I were judging the VAVA say compared to a traditional home theater projector at the same general price point – ie. The Epson HC5050UB or the BenQ HT5550 (both of which use a lamp, not laser light sources), I can quickly say both are better home theater projectors. They calibrate even better (thanks to more controls), color-wise, also have more options controlling the picture.

But those projectors are inherently designed, in my opinion, as typical, quality home theater projectors.

The VAVA Laser TV can be used in a dedicated theater, and it is fine there, in general, but it is intended for those living rooms, family rooms, or any spare room, without massive daylight pouring in, at least when paired with a proper screen designed for UST projectors, and using ALR materials to absorb light from the sides (somewhat) and above, not reflecting it back to our eyes.

As a family home entertainment system, the VAVA seems really good for the money. Once the colors were adjusted, the picture quality is really good. Not quite as accurate as those with more complete color controls, but the experience should blow away that 65” LED TV you are currently watching, having an image almost 4 times the size will do that for you.

I can’t say that the picture quality is going to be as good as some of the more expensive UST Laser projectors such as the LG I reviewed a few months ago. (The LG is the better of the two, but then, the LG should be selling for an extra $1500 or so). Even the Optoma P1, which I’m still waiting for to review, costs hundreds more, and the forthcoming Epson will sell for at least $1000 more. Good picture quality, in this case, is the value proposition. Slightly better pictures in this UST format will cost you more.