I would rate the ViewSonic X100-4K color reproduction out-of-the-box and its black levels as just average. Most of the preset color modes had a blueish tint to them. The projector has preset six color modes. I found that the MOVIE, USER 1, and USER 2 were the most accurate out of the box.
You can make fine adjustments to the image using one of the two User Modes. The good news is, the X100-4K responds quite well to calibration. The X100-4K also has two additional picture memory settings which are ISF DAY and ISF NIGHT. I toggled between MOVIE picture preset, and the USER 1 color mode that we calibrated specifically for my environment.
As usual, the images above provide a general idea of the color accuracy which I took in the MOVIE preset picture mode. Though, when viewing in person, the colors look much better than how the photos look on the display of the device you are using to read this review.
Philip calibrated the projector’s USER 1 Mode. Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, I don’t recommend using someone else's calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else's results can cause more harm than good. However, below are the before and after results of calibration in his room on his matte white 100" Elite Screen.
Pre-Calibration Color Sweep and Grayscale
Out-of-the-box, the color tracking of the X100-4K was average but the grayscale was not very good. The grayscale had a heavy emphasis on blue at higher brightness levels. When measured, the color temperature was several hundred degrees off my target of 6500K.
Picture Mode: User 2
Color Temperature: 8008K
Average Grayscale dE: 9.23
Average Color dE: 3.72
Post-Calibration Color Sweep and Grayscale
We set the COLOR TEMP set to Custom and increased Red Gain slightly while dramatically reducing the Blue Gain to produce very good grayscale.
To achieve my gamma target of 2.2 in my room, I set the GAMMA to 2.35. The ViewSonic X100-4K offers CMS adjustments which we utilized to improve the projector's color tracking.
Picture Mode: User 2
Color Temperature: 6545K
Average Grayscale dE: 1.13
Average Color dE: 1.07
Delta E as a measure of grayscale/color accuracy of 3 and under is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. After calibration, the X100-4K had an average grayscale dE of 1.13 which is outstanding. Prior to calibration, the X100-4K produced 151 cd/m2 (44.1 fL) on Phil's 100" matte white screen, After calibration, the maximum on-screen brightness was reduced slightly to 147 cd/m2 (42.9 fL) which is more than bright enough for use in a room with some ambient light.
When a picture mode is selected the X100-4K utilized the same picture settings for both SDR and HDR. For HDR viewing, we switched to the USER 1 picture preset. Just like with SDR we have to reduce the Blue Gain and increase the Red Gain to achieve good HDR grayscale tracking.
ViewSonic rated the brightness of the X100-4K at 2,900 LED lumens. As mentioned earlier in this review, LED lumens are not the same as ANSI lumens. To measure the brightness, I set the projector’s Light Source Level mode to FULL and its picture mode to BRIGHTEST, which is the projector’s brightest mode. I then took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.
At wide zoom for maximum brightness, the X100-4K measured 1170 ANSI lumens. I measured all eight available color modes at wide zoom; my measurements are below.
Our measurements found a roughly 8% drop from tele-zoom to wide-zoom. I was recently reminded that anything above 1500 ANSI lumens had been considered satisfactory by many for viewing content on a large screen in a dark room. While the X100-4K only measured around 1200 ANSI lumens, its LED light source did make the image appear brighter. So while ANSI Lumens and "LED Lumens" are not the same the X100-4K should be more than bright enough for most home theater or media room environments. HDR content could benefit from more brightness than SDR content since less aggressive tone mapping would be required.
The X100-4K has multiple lamp modes in including two (Dynamic Black 1 and Dynamic Black 2) that dynamically adjust the projector LED light source based on the scene. Both Dynamic Lamp modes produced better contrast than running the LED light source at Full power or in ECO. We choose to use Dynamic Black 1 when viewing content most of the time. Even when engaged the blacks produced by the X100-4K were closer to dark grey.
Out of the box, most of the picture preset modes on the X100-4K had a blueish tint to them. Also, at times, there was a lack of consistency between scenes. Luckily, the projector responded well to calibration with Lead Technical Editor Phil Jones’ assistance.
After the projector calibration, I would rate the picture quality as very good. The calibration made the images much more natural-looking. We used USER 1 for our calibration. If I owned the X100-4K, I would definitely have calibrated it under the password-protected ISF Day mode and ISF Night mode to have the calibrations locked in place. The password is located in the ViewSonic X100-4K User Guide.
Film grain was an issue for this projector. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker was the movie I watched and when I really noticed the film grain. The film grain was bad looking only a handful of times and was not distracting enough for me to stop watching.
Note that not all movies contain film grain. Older movies, or modern ones where the director made a creative decision to use film over digital, will have film grain in varying degrees. It definitely was not Director J. J. Abrams’ intent to have the film grain look as poorly as it did on the X100-4K.
Not all movies I watched had film grain processing issues. Also, there was a setting that helped with poor-looking film grain in the Image Settings. Sharpness is set to 15 by default. So it was possible by lowering it to see improvement in the film grain.
HDR (High-Dynamic Range)
The X100-4K supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging for high-quality decoding to enhance the contrast ratio and color capabilities over traditional content or Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content The projector can automatically detect the dynamic range of the source from HDMI 1, HDMI 2, HDMI 3, and HDMI 4 ports. HDR enhances light areas of an image while also allowing dark spots to be shown in more profound contrast, representing the original image more thoroughly. With HDR, you do not drop the details in the light and dark extremes in the image.
HDR offers improved brightness and color capabilities over traditional content or Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content. SDR content typically shows details in either a darker portion of a scene or a brighter portion of a scene but won’t reveal details in both portions of the scene concurrently. There was more color shift when viewing HDR material on the X100-4K and some of the brighter highlights were clipped. Overall the HDR picture quality of the X100-4K was comparable to most LED-based DLP projectors in its price range.
The X100-4K has Movie, Music, and User audio modes. In addition, the two built-in Harman/Kardon 20-watt speakers sounded really good for their small size. The speakers are located on the left and right of the projector’s chassis, with two passive radiators facing out the rear of the projector.
The volume level is conveniently displayed on-screen when the included remote control changes the volume.
Under Advanced settings, you can go to the Harman/Kardon audio mode section. Pressing the OK button, User audio mode brings up an audio equalizer to adjust the 100Hz, 500Hz, 1500Hz, 5000Hz, and 10000Hz settings. I made a few adjustments here, and the sound went from really good to GREAT for the tiny size of the speakers. Apple Music and Vevo were constantly playing on the X100-4K as I wrote this review. I indeed had great sounding working music on constant rotation.
Of course, a high-end home audio system would sound better with the projector. The X100-4K could be hooked up to an external speaker source via the Audio Out, AUX (Audio In), and S/PDIF ports.
We do not measure audible noise, but ViewSonic lists the fan noise produced by the X100-4K at 29dB, 30dB, and 31dB. I placed the Color Mode on Brightest and put the Light Source Level on Eco, Full, and Dynamic Black 1 . No matter what mode I used or what volume I watched movies and shows at, I could not hear the X100-4K fan from my viewing position. The only time I could slightly hear the fan was when I pressed mute while watching a movie, but since I do not make it a habit to watch movies on mute, I am happy to report the fan noise was not a problem.
BIG SCREEN GAMING
We cannot talk about performance without mentioning gaming. I’m going to come right out and say it, the X100-4K was not built to be a hard-core gaming projector. However, the projector does have a gaming mode under its Image Settings and Color Mode settings.
Of course, I had to fire up my PlayStation and Xbox to try them out on the X100-4K. The Gaming color mode was brighter than most of the other modes out of the box; it was good enough to let me see into shadows without getting jump scared...most of the time. My kiddos had some characters to try out on Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), Genshin Impact, and Overwatch.
Using Phil’s Murideo SEVEN Generator, we took some signal lag test (input lag) measurements. We averaged 4K@60Hz signal lag at 133ms and 1080p@60Hz signal lag at 120ms. Those numbers appeared higher than expected and higher than other reports, so we broke out Phil’s Leo Bonard video signal lag tester to double-check our measurements and measured 4K@60Hz signal lag at 134ms.
Surprisingly, we didn’t have too much trouble with the high input lag while gaming, although there were a few moments in ESO where the signal lag was somewhat noticeable during intense fighting. However, most of the time, gaming was good with acceptable response times.
On my 110-inch Screen Innovations screen, my ESO Orc Warden ended up being 36-inches tall from her legs to the top of her two-handed sword. There is nothing quite like gaming on a big screen.
So, as long as you are not looking to do hard-core gaming on the X100-4K, this projector should be fine. Also, a casual gamer won’t be overly impressed, but they also won’t be disappointed by casual gameplay on the X100-4K.