Optoma UHZ65 4K Laser Projector
January 17, 2018,
Built around a 4K UHD 0.66" DLP chip and Optoma DuraCore laser technology, the Optoma UHZ65 delivers a unique combination of leading edge technology for $4,499 street. It is one of Optoma's Professional--as opposed to Consumer--projectors and the top of the line in the company's UHD (lamp-based)/UHZ (laser-based) series. More important, it delivers the visual impact you would expect at this price, with rich, saturated color and visibly high contrast.
Much of the credit for the superb image goes to the DLP chip's 3840x2160 resolution, for showing fine detail, and the light engine, which uses an RGBY color wheel. The UHZ65 offers 99% coverage of the Rec.709 gamut as well as support for Rec.2020 and DCI-P3. It also supports HDR10, and it delivers a rated 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio with its Dynamic Black setting. Also helping is that the HDMI 2 port is Full Speed 18Gbps and HDCP 2.2-compatible, which means it can handle up to 4K 60P (4:4:4) 10-bit signals for 4K HDR. A second port is HDMI 1.4a.
The laser light source is designed to last the life of the projector, with a rated lifetime of 20,000 hours in full brightness mode. In addition, although the UHZ65 isn't IP5X certified for dust resistance, Optoma says it is IP5X compliant. The two features together make it maintenance free. Never having to buy a replacement lamp also translates to lower running costs. The UHZ65 can easily be less expensive over its lifetime than a lamp-based model that costs less, but needs a replacement lamp every few thousand hours.
Video Optimized Lumens. The Cinema and Reference color presets both offer close to accurate color without any adjustments. Cinema delivering the brighter image of the two, and it doesn't lose any brightness if you adjust it to eliminate the slight blue bias. At 1633 lumens, it is bright enough for a 185" diagonal 16:9 image in a dark room or a 115" image with moderate ambient light.
Presentation Optimized Lumens. The UHZ65 is obviously not designed primarily for presentations, but it can handle them well. Bright mode with default settings is the obvious choice for presentations that don't include photos. Some colors are significantly shifted, but the 2845 lumens can give you a 130" or larger image that can stand up to ambient light.
Low Lamp Modes. The 10 steps in power levels below 100% behave as advertised, lowering the measured brightness by 5% of the full brightness at each step down to 50%.
Zoom Lens effect. The 1.6x zoom lens offers good flexibility for how far you can position the projector from the screen, but with enough loss of brightness to notice. At the full telephoto setting, the lens curtails light by about 23% compared with the wide-angle setting. That's not unusual for a 1.6x zoom lens. But it is enough that for maximum brightness, you'll want the UHZ65 as close to the screen as possible.
Brightness uniformity. The 56% measured brightness uniformity is unusually low a home theater projector. The variation across the screen is easy to see with a solid white image, with the left and right sides obviously not as bright as the broad center swath. Fortunately, most film and video images break up the field of view enough to effectively hide the variation, and the eye will tend to interpret any visible difference as being part of the original image. It helps too that the brightness drops off only near the edges of the screen, where you're least likely to be looking while watching a movie.
Input Lag. Using 1080p content, the input lag with all color modes is 80 ms with FI off and 147 ms with FI on at any setting.
Low Rainbow Activity. With three different movies, I saw rainbow artifacts occasionally in one, less often in another, and exceedingly rarely in a third. Few people, if any, should find them bothersome.
On-Board Stereo. Any projector that costs as much as the UHZ65 pretty much demands being paired with a high quality external sound system. That said, the UHZ65 includes two on-board 4-watt stereo speakers if you need them. Sound quality is on a par with a typical large-screen TV, and the volume is enough to fill a good-size family room.
One minor issue with movies on 1080p Blu-ray discs is that if you jump ahead or back the audio and video fall out of sync with no easy way to match them up again. However, this happened only when I allowed the Blu-ray player to auto connect at 3840x2160 and upscale the image. When I set it to connect at 1080p, and let the UHZ65 upscale the image, the audio and video stayed in sync.
Fan Noise. Optoma rates fan noise at 33dB at 100% power and 29dB at 50%, which makes it a little louder than most home theater projectors. At 100%, you can hear it from 10 feet away at quiet moments as a steady, low-pitched whoosh. But even from 5 feet it will fade into the background for anyone who isn't particularly bothered by noise. At 50% power, the fan noise is low enough that it is unlikely anyone will find it bothersome from 5 feet away.
High Altitude mode, which Optoma recommends using at 5,000 feet and above, is loud enough at all power settings to notice in quiet moments from anywhere in a typical-size home theater. If you need to use High Altitude mode, and particularly if fan noise is one of your pet peeves, consider positioning the projector behind a false wall or behind the screen to help deaden the sound.
Lamp life. The laser-phosphor engine is meant to last the life of the projector. Optoma rates it at 20,000 hours in full brightness mode, and says it should last even longer at lower power settings.
Warranty. The price includes a three-year warranty for the projector, including the light engine, with express advanced exchange.
The UHZ65's 1.6x zoom and modest vertical lens shift offers a modicum of placement flexibility for a ceiling mount or a flat surface. The size and weight--6" x 19.6" x 13" (HWD) and 25 pounds--all but rule out installation on a rear bookshelf, but you could place it on top of a high cabinet behind the seating area. Intake and exhaust vents are on the sides, and the back needs only 3.9" clearance. Also, if you want to use 4K HDR, you'll need a cable that's 4K HDR compliant.
Throw Distance. The UHZ65's throw distance for a 150" 16:9 diagonal image is roughly 15.25 to 24.25 feet. Keep in mind that at the long end of the range, the lens will curtail brightness by about 23%. For highest brightness, you'll need the projector as close to the screen as possible. See the Optoma UHZ65 Projection Calculator to find the throw distance range for your desired screen size.
Lens Shift Range. The modest vertical shift is enough to provide some flexibility in placement. It can also let you correct for installing a ceiling mount a little lower or higher than you meant to, or, if you're replacing a projector, it can let you reuse a ceiling mount without having to move it.
The total vertical shift range is 21% of the image height. With the UHZ65 sitting on a table, and the lens in the lowest position, the bottom line of the image is 3% of the image height below the centerline of the lens. With the lens in the highest position, the bottom line of the image is 18% of the image height above the centerline of the lens. There is no keystone correction or horizontal lens shift.
Limited lens shift and no keystone correction. With no horizontal lens shift and no keystone correction, the UHZ65 has to be at the vertical midline of the screen to avoid geometric distortion. The vertical shift is also limited, but any vertical shift is better than none.
Lens is not motorized. The manual lens means there is no Lens Memory feature for constant image height shifting between, say, 16:9 and Cinemascope 2.41 aspect ratio. If you want to set up this capability you'll need a separate anamorphic lens.
Limited 3D. The color modes in the menu includes 3D, but there is no support for Blu-ray 3D. The UHZ65 supports only PC-based 3D.
HDR support is for HDR10 only. There is no support for Hybrid Log Gamma, the HDR standard for broadcast TV.
At $4,499 street, the Optoma UHZ65 is the least expensive projector by far that offers both true 3840x2160 resolution on the screen and a laser-phosphor light engine designed to last the life of the projector. It also offers 99% coverage of REC.709, supports HDR10, and accepts input at up to 4K 60p (4:4:4) 10-bit, giving it the bandwidth to work for HDR with all Blu-ray players and other hardware.
Most important, the UHZ65 delivers images notable for their high contrast, saturated color, and sense of three dimensionality. The default settings for Cinema mode need only a little tweaking to match the colors from a calibrated projector. And for spot on color, you can have an ISF Certified technician calibrate it. It is also bright enough in Cinema mode for a 185" diagonal 16:9 image in a dark room or a 115" image in a family room with moderate ambient light
For HDR input, the UHZ65 supports REC.2020. And unlike some models--which make HDR content unwatchable by damping down the overall brightness--it takes as much advantage of HDR as possible while keeping brightness high enough to deliver a compelling picture even in dark scenes.
The lack of a powered lens limits the UHZ65's usefulness for a CIH setup unless you add an anamorphic lens, and the limited lens shift combined with a lack of keystone correction limits flexibility for positioning the projector. However a motorized lens and greater lens shift would also drive up the cost significantly, so it is a fair trade off.
Ultimately, the UHZ65 is a unique choice in today's market. There is simply no other home theater projector that offers true 3840x2160 resolution and a laser-phosphor light source for anything like the price. That combination along with the top tier image quality--high contrast, eye catching color, and three-dimensionality--makes the Optoma UHZ65 a bargain at $4,499.
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