Posted on February 8, 2018 By Art Feierman
Vivitek HK2288 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality 2: Dark Shadow Detail, 4K HDR content, Sports and HDTV, Overall Picture Quality
No issues here, like most projectors today, the HK2288 is showing just about all the dark details in the Bond night train scene – look to the shrubs behind the tracks on the right, and inside the large darkest area of forest above that and more toward the middle.
Because black levels aren’t that black, it’s easy to spot the darkest detail (because the darkest detail – near blacks – are obviously brighter than they would be on a projector with much darker blacks).
I will mention here that Eric points out that at the other end of the spectrum, the HK2288 does crush some of the brightest areas just below full brightness. He points out that this has been pretty consistent across the 4K UHD projectors, but also most others. Still, I think most of us are far more likely to forgive a little crushing of near whites far easier than crushing those near blacks.
First, let me say that, like most of the lamp based 4K UHD models, this HK2288 does not claim to do P3/BT.2020 – the expanded color space that is one of the key improvements that come with the whole 4K package. Optoma, by comparison claims P3/BT.2020, but falls very short, so basically is probably converting the P3 color space back down to REC 709, which is what we’ve been using for years and years.
This Vivitek makes no claims of BT.2020, they stick to REC 709 which is what lamp projectors do well, and the Vivitek delivers. So much is lost from what’s on the screen to looking at the photos, yet, even these images are most impressive.. Suffice to say, no, you are not getting the P3 color space that is touted by some. For the most part, you’ll need a laser (or very good LED) light engine to achieve that. Although, the Epson UB’s have a special cinema filter (Digital Cinema mode) which gets them much closer, at the expense of about 50% of brightness (trade-offs again). Consider that for HDR, you really don’t want giving away lots of lumens.
I’m not overly concerned about these projectors coming up short on P3/BT.2020, but for a reason that you might not have thought of. Since most of these projectors can’t do great black levels, they also aren’t delivering the maximum contrast to make those color differences more noticeable. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but, if not, that P3 color space, is the one used in the digital projectors at your local theater. Overall, calibrated, the HK2288 produces very nice color, but, again, it’s not the newer/better color standard.
HDR is the other aspect. As I have to point out in every review, projectors, and most LCD TVs, are not bright enough to achieve HDR as defined. The average 4K HDR LCD TV has about 300-600 NITS, while a projector like this, on a 100” screen, is probably under 200 NITS. The goal is 1,000 (think more than 5,000 lumens for projectors). At your local store, those bright LCD TVs (over 1,000 NITS) are typically about 2.5 to 3 times the price of most. (In case you are wondering why one manufacturer might have two 4K HDR models of the same size, perhaps 65” – one at $700 and one at $1,800, it’s going to be the extra brightness for handling HDR).
Since we have to compromise, every manufacturer seems to be doing it their own way. Epsons, for example tend to be on the dark side (at least until their latest firmware upgrade), delivering a lot of pop to the image – high dynamic range – but most manufacturers tend to go the other way, sacrificing the more dynamic look to maintain overall brightness.
I have watched some scenes (Ghostbusters 2016, Passengers, The Hunger Games) on the Vivitek from both 1080p and 4K discs. The 4K does deliver a more dynamic image, although it’s almost more different than just more dynamic. I would say that in addition to the extra sharpness, you do get a superior picture, thanks to the HDR. Hugely superior, no, but let’s be thankful for any additional improvement.
If you are a hardcore enthusiast, please note that this Vivitek HK2288 projector gives you less manual control of the picture, color, etc, than most when handling 4K HDR. It’s perhaps the most “plug and play” you can get. For example, normally, if you feed it 4K HDR content, that’s about it, there are no picture mode choices, no ability to adjust the color saturation, and it lacks other controls as well, like gamma. Menus are greyed out when the projector is handling 4K HDR content in both Normal and Details modes.
To have some real control over HDR content, select the third of the three HDRs – Normal, Details, and User. I find that Normal and User have more “pop” than Details mode, and I also see some banding and a bit more crushing of near whites when not in Details.
I recommend Details, as the better and more natural look, over Normal, but if you choose User mode, you can go back to the Image mode and now have control over most of the color and picture features that were turned off in the other two HDR modes. By the way, User seems to default to the Normal modes settings.
The Bottom Line on 4K HDR: This Vivitek’s implementation is fairly typical. It seems to have a healthy amount of brightness in the mid ranges, at the expense of a bit less dynamic look. If we have to compromise, and we do, Vivitek’s solution is, again, fairly typical, and a good one.
As is the case with some of the other 4K UHD projectors around this price point, features may vary slightly, but the picture quality is overall very good, except in the area of black level performance.
While every projector is a little different, and has implemented HDR and color space differently, most of the 4K UHD projectors +/- $500 of the HK2288 are similar enough. From enough viewing, I can say that color wise, I have found that I prefer those models using RGBRGB color wheels and consider them to be doing a slightly better job on overall color and picture quality than those with white (clear) slices on the color wheel, or other combinations.
That leaves you with a choice. You can go brighter, such as the 3,000 lumen claiming Optoma UHD60 (at the same price point), which lacks the RGBRGB wheel, or live with less lumens, and slightly better color.
What’s the difference you ask? Well, in comparing the Optoma UHD60 to this HK2288, I found that things like a brightly lit face is more likely to seem a little blown out with the Optoma, with the brightest skin tones more likely to lose color saturation and seem more whitish. We’re not talking huge, but that seems to be a difference. The UHD65, by comparison, in this regard, looks more like the HK2288. Now, that Optoma costs $500 more, but it is also a bit brighter.
Because of the out of the box picture performance being too cool overall, I recommend you either have this Vivitek projector calibrated, or try out our calibration settings!
Bottom line on Picture Quality: Like the other 4K HDR projectors anywhere near the price, there are some compromises, notably in black level performance. Also, like the others, the HK2288 could definitely stand to have a good deal more brightness for 4K HDR content, as calibrated, the Vivitek is just slightly over 1,000 lumens at mid-zoom.
Before I forget, one feature lacking on both 4K and non-4K is CFI – Creative Frame Interpolation – aka “Smooth Motion.” I like having CFI for sports viewing, and never recommend using it for movies, as it changes the director’s intent. Still, some DLP competitors offer it. Or, in the non-DLP competition, the Epson HC4000 and the UBs offer CFI but only on non 4K content.
Picture performance on non-4K content looks very good and that 1,000+ lumens is plenty. Near whites still are slightly crushed despite calibration, but not enough to be a real issue. Overall, the HK2288 does a particularly good job on skin tones.
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