Posted on February 9, 2018 By Art Feierman
Vivitek HK2288 4K UHD Home Theater Projector Review – Summary: HK2288 – The Big Picture, Picture Quality, Competition, Very Bottom Line, Pros, Cons
When it comes to Vivitek’s HK2288 and other new 4K UHD projectors, it’s a real challenge for me as a reviewer to provide definitive answers. All of a sudden, we find ourselves with a number of very similar projectors. No surprise there – half of the 4K UHD projectors use one DLP chip, the 2716x1528x2 resolution, and a whole new batch using an even smaller 1920x1080x4 chip.
Yet, that’s the easy part. The tough part is the 4K aspects. No one has a clean HDR solution – projectors and most LCDTVs just aren’t bright enough, and that means each projector compromises, and everyone’s coming up with their compromise differently. Add to that mix, non-4K UHD projectors – some true 4K, some 1080p pixel shifters that only shift x2 not x4. Which one is better on HDR – is the Vivitek HK2288 the way to go, with a reasonably bright mid-range that doesn’t look at all dim, but lacks the “pop” that HDR – “High Dynamic Range” is all about, or is a projector that is dimmer in the mid and lower ranges, but more truly delivers that High Dynamic Range that we’re promised provides an improved, more realistic viewing experience, more immersion in the content, etc.
With that said, let’s look at the HK2288 in terms of where it fits compared to 4K capable projectors in general. Here goes.
All the images in the player above are from 4K content on Blu-ray UHD disc.
The HK2288 is very sharp. Vivitek has done a nice implementation. We don’t measure optical performance, but the HK2288 avoids one pitfall that some competitors have to deal with: I saw no sign at all of defocusing as the projector warms up. It’s not a big thing unless a projector defocuses a lot, still, the Vivitek seems better than most, and that includes not just other 4K UHD DLPs but the 3LCD competition too. As the least expensive LCoS competition (1080px2) is twice the list price, I won’t spend more time on the JVC entries.
I said very sharp. It’s not going to be a sharp as other projectors using the same chip set, but with more expensive/superior optics – such as BenQ’s $8,999 HT9050. But, it will produce a sharper image than some other similarly priced DLPs and it is definitely natively sharper than the 3LCD models. Still, with today’s advanced processing, you might not recognize one as sharper than the other.
Color handling, of course is a key, and I’ll discuss that in the next section, but I also want to address something non-technical – which is warranty. I find that warranty and support can be a big help in making a choice, when other aspects provide less clarity. Update: Since originally announced, Vivitek increased the warranty, so our apologies for any confusion. The HK2288’s warranty is now 3 years parts and labor, better than most at this price point. By comparison, the $500 more expensive HK2299 comes with a 5-year warranty, which is an exceptional. 5 year warranties are rare. (The warranty difference, and the case color are two of the biggest differences, as well as the different dealer channels they sell through).
A few key things – already discussed – 2,000 lumens, no 3D (typical of the 4K UHD DLPs but a couple have it (3D) including the even less expensive, just announced BenQ HT2550 which is using the not quite as sharp 1920x1080x4 pixel shifting chip).
One annoying aspect that needs to be mentioned. The Vivitek is slower than most to lock onto signals. With HDMI 2.0 and HDCP copy protection needed for most 4K content, todays displays (not just projectors) are taking longer to lock onto these copy protected signals. Often it’s 4-5 even maybe 7 seconds with many displays. This Vivitek though probably takes 2-3-4 more seconds to lock on, at times, than most other 4K capable projectors.
Pre-calibration, or pre-using our calibration settings, all the modes of the Vivitek HK2288 are too cool. That is, the whites have more of a blue component than is ideal. The good news is that it goes away very nicely and the picture quality becomes both better and a lot more accurate with a calibration, or our settings. Sharpness, as I already pointed out, is superior to any 1920x1080x2 pixel shifting 3LCD projector, if only slightly.
HDR content looks a bit different than the same content running from a 1080p disc, but not as great a difference as when compared to some projectors, notably the Epson 5040UB (more money), and the Sony VW285ES (true 4K, $4,999 list price). Both provide more pop, and are likely a bit truer to the goals of HDR, but, as mentioned, can sometimes seem a touch dim on some medium/medium dark scenes.
The other aspect is color space. Unlike Optoma, which claims they are tackling P3/BT.2020 (even if their results end up far more like REC 709 than P3/BT.2020 anyway), Vivitek, like BenQ, is happy to focus on what they can do – a good REC 709, rather than a significantly compromised P3.
Let’s keep going in this regard. Compared to the Optoma UHD60, which is the same price, I favored the color aspects of the HK2288. Is it the straight REC709, vs P3/BT.2020 attempt by Optoma, or is it the RGBRGB color wheel of the Vivitek? Having worked with and viewed the HK2288 vs. UHD60 simultaneously, and also having viewed the UHD60 and UHD65 “side by side,” I tend to think that the color wheel is the more important difference than the attempt at P3 by Optoma.
As a result, to me, I see a Vivitek with a better picture, and an Optoma UHD60 with a noticeable increase in brightness as the primary performance trade-off. The UHD65, I would count as superior overall, but it is the UHD60 which is the one that’s price competitive. That Optoma comes with 2 years of warranty, not one.
Speaking of price competitive, the Vivitek HK2288 seems to be getting discounted a good bit more, so you just might find it hundreds of dollars less than the Optoma. That, of course, can change at any time.
Now, if budgets are tight, the Vivitek has to compete (and may already be considering the discounts) against the “lower end” 1080p pixel shifting 4K UHD DLPs like the BenQ HT2550. The Vivitek will win the sharpness battle, but the BenQ has some extras, such as 3D capability.
I did do some side by sides between the HK2288 and the Acer V7850. The Acer is another projector with the same chip set, and similar feature set, but I did find the Vivitek to have an advantage in black level performance, if only a modest difference (every bit helps).
That leaves us with two other competitors I want to address here. Epson’s HC4000 and HC5040UB. The 5040UB, of course, sells for at least $700 more so should only be considered as a step up projector. It may not be quite as sharp as the HK2288, but close enough with the Epson image processing as to be a minor difference. What you are really paying for, though, with the Epson UB are two things – black level performance, which is an area that the 5040UB pretty much blows away all the affordable 4K UHD projectors, and feature set.
Now, if you have a dedicated theater and really want those dark scenes handled really well, that alone is sufficient justification for the Epson UB, if the budget allows, but for some it’s the feature set. The feature set includes a huge amount of lens shift (not just a little), and far more zoom range, and since the lens features are all motorized, the Lens Memory ability that allows the movie aficionado to choose to go with a wide screen (ie. 2.4:1) not the usual 16:9 HDTV shape (1.78:1). As a wide screen owner, I like having that ability, of course. All that extra zoom range and lens shift range allows the Epson to be suitable for shelf mounting in the back of your room.
Let’s say, though, that you aren’t a hardcore movie enthusiast and you don’t have the ideal cave/dedicated theater so there’s always at least a little ambient light present, which will mean that a good chuck of the 5040UB’s black level advantage is negated. That’s where the HC4000 comes in – its black level performance is no better than the HK2288. Its LCD panels have less native contrast, which Epson makes up in part for with a great dynamic iris. What the HC4000 brings to the party is the same feature set – with lens memory, 2.1:1 zoom, etc., but it does it with a street price of $1,999 (which is still more than the HK2288).
I like the HK2288. I find that Vivitek has chosen a path that isn’t the one I look for, but I understand what their “up to.” Vivitek, other than significantly benefiting from a calibration or our calibration settings, has decided to offer us a pretty plug and play projector. There aren’t a whole lot of menu items and choices. It’s mostly automatic. Just want a 4K capable projector that you turn on and watch, and not fuss with? That’s what Vivitek is offering, and it’s what a lot of non-hardcore crazy folks (unllike me), are looking for.
Consider – the projector automatically deals with HDR. There are three settings for HDR itself, but even that is straightforward. If you are going plug and play, I favor Details over Normal, but since we provide calibration info, I recommend using the third option – User, which provides lots of settings controls. The other two offer no adjustments. I recommend User and our settings (since you probably aren’t ponying up hundreds for a full calibration). As to non-4K HDR content, most of the modes are identical except for the brightest (and ugliest). We happen to have – in our calibration, set up Night – as our “best” mode, and Day, for “Brightest,” but mostly the difference between the two is the lamp power setting.
Missing from the HK2288 is CFI – Smooth Motion. If you are a sports fan, you just might really want that. I consider CFI to be nice to have, but not critical. Others, however appreciate it more than I do. If you are familiar with smooth motion in action, and want it for your sports viewing, that’s a strike against the Vivitek. For most, however, CFI is hardly a deal breaker.
I really believe that with a number of very similar 4K UHD projectors flooding the price range from under $1,500 street to under $2,500 street, your decision may just come down to one particular feature – or two, that guides your final decision, and price.
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