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Review: Optoma UHZ50 Projector Ultra HD DLP with laser light source

Review: Optoma UHZ50 Projector: That ultra-low input lag and 120 or even 240 Hz refresh rate is a treat for gamers.

With 65-inch TVs at affordable prices, big screen gaming is no longer a dream. But what if you want to game a lot bigger, 100 inches for example? Then a projector is the best solution. This Optoma UHZ50 Projector promises to deliver a lot of gaming fun. It supports refresh rates up to 240Hz and has a low input lag. Game on!

 Optoma UHZ50 Projector – Specifications

What Ultra HD DLP projector with laser light source
Line-up 3,840 x 2,160 (1,920 x 1,080 with pixel shifting), lumen output 3,000 ANSI lumens, dynamic contrast 2,500,000:1, projection ratio 1.21 – 1.59 (100 inches diagonal at 2.68 – 3.52 m), zoom 1.3x, lens shift 10% vertical, offset 105%, noise level 29/27 dB (standard, ecomode)
Connections 3x HDMI (2.0, eARC/ARC), 3x USB (1x Power, and 2x media player, MS office player), 1x optical digital out, 1x stereo minijack out, 1x 12V trigger, 1x RS-232, 1x ethernet, 1x 3D- sync
Lamp Life laser light source, up to 30,000 hours
Extras Refresh up to 240Hz (with Full HD), 3D, HDR10, HLG, 2x 10 Watt speakers, WiFi adapter, media player, Optoma Appstore (Android)
Dimensions 337 x 265 x 119mm
Weight 4.8kg
Recommended retail price 2,799 euros

 Optoma UHZ50 Projector – Design

For once we didn’t bring an Ultra Short Throw projector into our house, but a classic model. Apparently that also immediately translates into a boring design. The UHZ50 is a white, rectangular box, with few notable accents.

The top half has a light texture in checkerboard pattern. The controls are grouped together in the center of the projector.

 Optoma UHZ50 Projector – Connections

The projector is equipped with 3 HDMI 2.0 connections, one with eARC/ARC. That already means that you should not count on 4K120, because an HDMI 2.1 connection is required. However, you can supply Full HD at 120 or even 240 Hz.

In addition, there are three USB ports, two that you can use for media, and one that can be used as a power supply (for example for a Chromecast dongle). There is also a stereo minijack output, an optical digital audio output, and a network connection, an RS-232 port and 12V trigger. You can also provide the UHZ50 with a wireless network via a small, supplied WiFi dongle.

 Optoma UHZ50 Projector – Placement

This is a classic projector that occupies a place at the back of the room. The optics have a small 1.3x zoom so that you still have some flexibility. For example, if you want a 100-inch screen diagonal, you should place the projector between 2.68 and 3.52 m from the screen. The projector has an offset of 105%, so the bottom of the image is 5% of the image height above the lens. This is useful if you place the projector on a low table, or better yet hang it from the ceiling. There is also a very limited vertical lens shift of 10%.

Zoom, focus and shift can be controlled manually with the elements on the lens. For zoom and focus, that goes very smoothly. However, the lens shift wheel is difficult to operate, and the correction you can make is very small. In any case, we didn’t think we could shift the image 10% of the vertical height. It is therefore best to assume that there is no lens shift.

If you have to shift the image a bit above/below or left/right, you can do that by unscrewing the feet under the projector. You correct the resulting trapezoidal distortion with the keystone settings. The projector gives you various options for this. Note, if you want to use the ‘Enhanced Game Mode’ for extra lag input lag, you should keep in mind that it disables all keystone corrections.

The projector is relatively quiet, at least when it doesn’t have to cool down completely. In some cases, the ventilation noise is clearly audible. This is the case, for example, when viewing HDR images, and the ‘Brightness mode’ setting is set to ‘Constant Power 100%’.

The projector also offers rather confusing ‘Brightness Mode’ settings, the equivalent of the earlier lamp modes. There is Constant Power, adjustable in 5% increments between 100 and 50%. That’s the setting that best matches what we used to think of as lamp mode. Then there is Eco-mode, which also seems obvious to us.

But there are also fashions that have an impact on other things. For example, the Constant Luminance mode, adjustable in 5% increments between 85 and 70%. The laser varies this so that the average brightness remains the same. Or the Dynamic Black mode that optimizes contrast. Such settings affect the gamma curve and are therefore not desirable for film.

 Optoma UHZ50 Projector – Ease of use

Optoma has given the UHZ50 a smart TV system, but we can’t be really satisfied with that. It is based on Android, but with its own interpretation.

That does give the projector some extra options, such as casting via the Optoma Creative Cast app, or the use of apps, but the app list is so limited that it is not of much use. No YouTube to be found in the Optoma app store, and the Netflix app only gave a message on startup that we need to update our browser, which is of course impossible. The built-in media player plays quite a few file formats, but it is certainly not a universal player. For example, he was absent on the older xvid and on DTS audio. We believe manufacturers would be better off offering a full Android TV implementation, or some other full and functional smart TV platform. This kind of half-solution seems to us to offer little added value.

We are willing to condone that, for the following reason. This projector is intended for gamers, and is therefore certainly attached to a PC or game console. Use that for all your media needs, and forget that the Optoma has smart features.

Remote control

The small, white remote has handy rubber keys. They require little pressure and give a clean click. The number of keys is minimal, but sufficient for this projector. The keys are also illuminated as soon as you press a key.

The icons are not very clear in some cases, so that takes some getting used to. Given the simplicity of the remote, however, you quickly know what everything stands for. The remote works with infrared, not with Bluetooth, so aiming remains mandatory, although we could almost always bounce the signal effortlessly via the screen to the projector.

 

Image Processing

The UHZ50 is an Ultra HD DLP projector that uses the 0.47 inch DLP chip from Texas Instruments. It creates a UHD 4K image based on its two million pixels and a quadruple pixel shift technique. If you want to know how this works, check out our background article about projectors . The results are as expected. There is no perfect 4K detail, but the image is slightly sharper than Full HD.

We do not expect extensive image processing on a projector intended for gamers. The upscaling is good, but there is no noise cancellation. This means, for example, that the projector is quite sensitive to color bands and compression noise (blocking). Fortunately, there was no drama in dark scenes, because of the moderate contrast. In bright, colorful images, such a soft gradient can show striking bands of color.

The Optoma is equipped with ‘PureMotion’, which can be activated in three levels. If you want that little bit of shock from your film images, you can set PureMotion to 2. It caused little or no artifacts. Strangely enough, you can only use PureMotion on HDMI 3.

 

Optoma UHZ50 – Image Quality

the projector uses a blue laser as the light source, along with a color wheel with red and green phosphors. The specification promises 3,000 ANSI lumens. In the brightest image mode (Bright) we achieve a maximum of 2,693 lumens, and a contrast of 1,073:1. That is very bright, but unfortunately, as with many projectors, the image then has a strong green tint. If we switch to the Reference image mode, we still get 1,160 lumens, and a contrast of 467:1. That is a significant drop, but with that much light you can still fill a 90-inch screen, even with relatively much ambient light, and more than 130 inches with blackout. The contrast is a bit disappointing in this fashion. You can also choose the Cinema mode, which is somewhere between the two (1,718 lumens and 1,011:1 contrast).

Dynamic Black on

We do not recommend using the ‘Dynamic Black’ mode to improve the contrast. That mode indeed improves the black display, but it very strongly compresses the light accents. As a result, they can lose a lot of light detail, and in some cases also suddenly show color bands. You can see that clearly in these photos of Gravity. With Dynamic Black activated, the image gets darker, but the lens flare loses a lot of nuance and some banding is visible at the edge of the brightest part.

Dynamic Black off

The Reference mode has a moderate calibration. The gray scale has a lot of red too short, so that images generally look a bit too cool. In addition, it also loses some blue in the brightest white values, so that it can get a light green tint again. The gamut is good. Sometimes some black detail disappears. Despite these errors, the color reproduction is still quite good. Blue, as often with laser projectors, is very intense, but for most other colors the flaw is not too serious. We thought the images still tasted very good, although we would personally suggest a calibration.

Optoma UHZ50 – HDR

The Optoma supports HDR10 and HLG. The color range comes in at 77% P3, which is rather on the small side, but the projector makes good use of what it has. It does, however, ignore metadata and perform tone mapping up to over 3,000 nits. The brightest shades are therefore somewhat dark. The projector retains pretty good white detail, and certainly has enough light to show off bright scenes. The contrast was very good in HDR. The images will never have the real impact of HDR, the color range and dynamic range are too small for that, but the result is quite good.

The projector offers four different HDR modes, from bright to dark: Bright, Standard, Movie and Detail. Standard and film seemed to give the best results. You can also tinker with the HDR brightness separately, making the entire range slightly brighter or darker. We found 5 to be the best compromise, above that dark tones become too bright and that is not desirable, given the moderate black value.

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