- 4K detail with all content looks crisp and sharp
- Brighter than most 4K projectors in its price range
- Up to 240Hz refresh rate for games (in 1080p)
- Average contrast
- Some blurring with 3D content
The Optoma UHD35 is an excellent budget 4K projector that is sure to please someone looking for some extra detail in their movies and games without a big price premium over 1080p models.
With a few exceptions, 4K projectors have usually demanded prices higher than $1,500, and if they didn't they weren't very bright or had mediocre color reproduction, or both. Optoma's UHD35 hopes to be the solution to those problems. It has a street price of $1,299, good brightness (along with its recently released sister projector, the Optoma UHD38), and supports 240Hz refresh rate at 1080p for computer gamers.
In a market that has recently been focusing more on LED and laser light engine technology, the Optoma UHD35 uses a tried-and-true 240 watt lamp. It's a bright, budget home theater projector, rated at 3,600 lumens, that can hold up well to some daytime ambient light (although my measurements came in well below that; more on that later). Of course, having a lamp means eventual lamp replacement for $249 (you can find retailers on ProjectorCentral's lamp page), that you'll need to tack on to the $1,299 price. But even if you're watching the average amount of TV for Americans (28 hours per week according to Nielsen Co.) that's still over two and a half years with Bright lamp mode life expectancy—4,000 hours. Eco will last up to 10,000 hours (almost seven years), or 15,000 hours in Dynamic (a little over 10 years).
The Optoma UHD35 has a single 0.47-inch DLP 4K chip and uses XPR (Xpanded Pixel Resolution) technology—also referred to as fast pixel switching—to achieve full 4K (3840x2160) resolution. XPR is Texas Instrument's super-fast pixel-shifting that quadruples the apparent resolution of the native 1080p chip to put up all the pixels in a full frame of UHD video. Pixel shifting, even TI's version, always brings with it some healthy debate on actual image quality, but at least in the case of the UHD35, the 4K image looks highly detailed and far better than a native 1080p (1920x1080) picture. (For more information about pixel shifting technology and comparisons between "True" 4K and XPR 4K, check out our Projector Resolution Shootout.) HDR10 and HLG are both supported on the UHD35, as well as 3D (frame packed at 24Hz if from a Blu-ray player, frame sequential at 120Hz from a PC).
A drawback of most single-chip DLP designs is reliance on a color wheel—in this case an 8-segment RGBWRGBW color wheel—that can cause some people to see a rainbow effect. I didn't experience any on my test material, but I'm also not very susceptible to them. If rainbows cause you frustration or annoyance, best to either find a UHD35 to see in person or order from a seller that has a generous return policy.
Planning your projector placement for the Optoma is important, as it only has a 1.1x manual zoom (you can determine the ideal throw distance using the ProjectorCentral Optoma UHD35 Projection Calculator). Any further image adjustment is done digitally, which can lead to a decrease in brightness so, as always, use that option as a last resort.
Optoma touts the UHD35 as providing a "next-generation 4K UHD home theater & gaming experience." To support that claim for gaming, the projector's Enhanced Gaming mode has the capability for a 240Hz refresh rate (if your computer can provide that) and an incredibly low input lag of 4.2ms at 240Hz. If you're gaming on a console, the refresh rate will be limited to 120Hz (because of the console limitation, not the projector) with a lag of 8.9ms. Anything above a 60Hz signal will max out at 1080p, though, as the UHD35 only has HDMI 2.0 ports (4K/120 requires the larger bandwidth of HDMI 2.1). Input lag with a 4K/60Hz signal is an excellent 16.7ms. As a note, turning on the Enhanced Gaming mode will disable 3D, aspect ratio, zoom, image shift, and keystone correction. Even more reason to make sure your initial placement is correct.
The projector's chassis is identical to its predecessor, the UHD30. The white case measures 4.65 x 12.4 x 10.63 inches (HWD) and weighs 8.77 pounds, slightly less than the UHD30. The manual zoom adjustment tab is on the top of the projector and focus can be tuned by turning the ring around the lens on the front. Both move easily while still feeling firm. Menu navigation and image adjustment buttons are on the top of the projector.
On the back of the UHD35 are two HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2, VGA in (YPbPr/RGB), 3.5mm audio in and out, optical out, a USB for power, 12V trigger, and RS232 for home automation control. It's possible to connect a streaming stick with power supplied by the USB, but you'll need to run an audio cable (either optical or 3.5mm analog) because neither HDMI port has ARC.
The remote will be familiar to anyone who has seen an Optoma remote in the past few years. It's small and light with a whole cadre of similarly shaped buttons to control input selection (including three unnecessary buttons for inputs that don't exist on the UHD35), image adjustment, and menu navigation. It could be a bit confusing, but the majority of buttons won't ever be touched and there's a blaringly bright backlight that illuminates the symbols on the buttons easily.
- 4K (3840x2160) native resolution
- 3,600 ANSI lumens brightness
- Up to a 240Hz refresh rate at 1080p
- 4.2ms input lag at 1080p/240Hz
- Up to 15,000 hours lamp life in Dynamic mode
- HDR10 and HLG support
- 1.1x manual zoom
- 3D capable
Display Modes. There are nine different display modes on the Optoma UHD35—Cinema, HDR, HLG, HDR SIM., Game, Reference, Bright, User, and 3D. An ISF calibrator can unlock and calibrate ISF Day, ISF Night, and ISF 3D modes. The HDR, HLG, and 3D modes are automatically enabled when the Optoma detects one of those signals.
The brightest display mode is Bright, which exhibits the expected green tint found in the brightest mode of many projectors. Several brightness measurements of two different samples, conducted with direction from Optoma, resulted in a highest recorded measurement of 2,681 ANSI lumens using the usual nine-point averaged methodology. At 77.3% of the rated spec, this falls below the 20% tolerance allowed for ANSI or ISO lumen measurements, and is below what Optoma says it measured for either of our two samples. We are continuing to explore what might be causing the discrepancy and will update our review accordingly as needed.
Using Calman calibration software from Portrait Displays, an X-rite i1 Pro 3 spectrophotometer, and a Murideo Six-G pattern generator, I determined that Reference was the most accurate of the color modes, although it was also the dimmest by a pretty significant amount at 577 ANSI lumens. Much of that decrease in brightness is due to Brilliant Color being set to 2 in Reference mode, although that also is what leads to it having the most accurate color and grayscale. A good compromise for brightness with still very good color is Cinema mode with 1,608 ANSI lumens—enough for daytime viewing as long as the sun isn't shining directly on the screen.
Red, magenta, and blue in both Reference and Cinema were all a bit undersaturated. Some of that could be corrected with the CMS calibration controls, except for red which continued to stay undersaturated no matter the combination of adjustments I made. It wasn't a glaring fault with real world material, though. Gamma tracked consistently across the luminance range—Cinema's Film gamma was 2.01 and Reference's Standard (2.2) gamma was 2.19. I generally preferred the extra image depth afforded by the Standard (2.2) setting and even in Cinema mode switched it to that.
SDR Viewing. The first few seasons of The Expanse, when it was still on SyFy, are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video but without HDR (which wasn't added to the seasons until Amazon picked it up after being cancelled). The first season is good, but it really picks up with season 2 and the introduction of some new important characters including Martian Marine Bobbie Draper. This also gives us a look at Mars with its dusty red landscape. On the Optoma it looks a little muted, although I wouldn't have known if I wasn't so familiar with how the show looks. The slightly undersaturated red doesn't affect Caucasian skin tones as it could, and parts of the picture that have a more vibrant red, such as some red lights on the Rocinante ship, still look satisfying. And the golds and blues in some of Avasarala's clothing are gorgeous.
For a show with dark corners and the reaches of space, it's absolutely necessary to watch The Expanse in Cinema mode if there's any ambient light to gain its extra brightness over Reference. The contrast on the UHD35 is average in comparison to other projectors within its price range—one of the drawbacks of budget DLP. Being in Cinema mode helps this, but mainly by boosting the overall brightness as opposed to giving the picture deeper blacks.
HDR Viewing. Much like the opening of The Fifth Element was my go-to test for years back in the aughts, in a few short months The Lord of the Rings has cemented itself in my test material in 2021. The detail on the Optoma UHD35 is absolutely stunning. The contrast in age between Frodo and Bilbo as they talked at their joint birthday party in the Shire can be seen in the smooth complexion of Elijah Wood against the distinguished wrinkle definition of Ian Holm. Gandalf's fireworks burst from the screen, especially the soaring dragon as it swoops over the party congregation.
The Optoma has decent HDR contrast for a projector in its price range. Detail is still evident in the rocks and stone throughout the Mines of Moria. There are two adjustments that can be made within the Dynamic Range menu. One is HDR Picture Mode that has four settings—Bright, Standard, Film, and Detail. You might have seen these mentioned in other reviews on ProjectorCentral, and they are generally the ones I adjust depending on the overall darkness of a film. On the UHD35 they did very little, if anything at all. Instead, there's an HDR Strength slider from 0 to 10 that adjusts the overall brightness with 0 being brightest and 10 being darkest. The default setting is 7 and I rarely strayed far from that. 0 causes the picture to look artificially bright and 10 looks dull and robs dimensionality. Overall, HDR with the UHD35 looks better than I've seen on other projectors in the same price bracket.
Gaming. A low input lag is incredibly important when playing against other players in games like Overwatch. It could be the difference between winning and losing a match. The input response on the UHD35 feels instantaneous, especially when running a game at 240Hz (setting it to 240Hz needs to happen within the game menu and not the computer's display settings). The UHD35 doesn't have any adaptive sync technology and when looking closely I occasionally saw some screen tearing, but it was minimal and not overly distracting.
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Even at lower refresh rates (1080p/120Hz with Devil May Cry 5 on PS5 and 4K/60Hz with Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox Series X), response was quick and smooth. I didn't experience any screen tearing while playing either of the games on my consoles. The HDMI inputs on the Optoma are both 2.0, so it isn't possible to take full advantage of the new consoles by running games in 4K at 120Hz, but they still run well and the detail looks great in 4K at 60Hz.
3D Viewing. There is plenty of brightness from the Optoma UHD35 for a 3D image even in a room with a little bit of light. With quick action, like the battle between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket on the train set in Ant-Man, there was too much motion blur that almost blended the background into the foreground at times. I also did run into an issue once where the projector didn't properly pick up the signal from my LG UP870 BD player. The picture was black and white and the 3D wasn't decoded properly. Stopping and restarting the disc fixed the issue. I've never experienced that issue with my player before.
The Optoma UHD35 achieves what it sets out to do, and does it well. 4K content has excellent detail, HDR looks as good or better than comparable projectors, and the ultra-low input lag and high refresh rate capabilities are perfect for gamers (even if the projector only has HDMI 2.0). Out of the box colors are a little undersaturated, but not so much that it adversely affects the overall enjoyment. Granted, its brightness measured below expectations, but it was still plenty bright for even ambient-light viewing. When you consider that there are 1080p projectors that cost about the same, the UHD35 is a great way to up the resolution with good color and gaming features.
Brightness. The mode with the highest light output on the Optoma UHD35 is Bright with the Brightness Mode lamp setting to Bright and Brilliant Color set at 10. We measured brightness on two different samples of the UHD35 after Optoma's team expressed concern about our results on the first round, but a second sample, tested with direction from Optoma, measured similarly and recorded a maximum of 2,681 ANSI lumens, or 77.3% of the published 3,600 lumen spec. This is slightly under the maximum 20% tolerance accepted for ANSI or ISO lumen specs and below what Optoma says it measured for these samples. We are investigating and will update our review as necessary.
Switching to Cinema mode drops the brightness to 1,608 ANSI lumens, and Reference drops it to 577 ANSI lumens. Changing the lamp brightness mode to Eco+ lowers light output by 36% while both Dynamic and Eco lower it by 35%. Color brightness was measured in Bright picture mode with its default Brilliant Color setting of 10, resulting in a color brightness being 36.7% of white. As Brilliant Color is turned down, the color brightness percentage increases. (This happens with Brilliant Color on all DLP projectors.)
The measured brightness of display modes is as follows:
Optoma UHD35 ANSI Lumens
Zoom Lens Light Loss. The 1.1x zoom on the Optoma UHD35 makes little difference on the overall brightness. When changing the zoom to its maximum telephoto setting, the light output drops by only 3.1%.
Brightness Uniformity. Brightness uniformity measured at 66% at its widest zoom and 70% at its longest zoom. With the projector mounted on the ceiling, the brightest sector was the middle top and the dimmest was the bottom left in both zoom positions. The difference in brightness was visible with a full white screen, but only marginally noticeable with movies, TV shows, and games.
Fan Noise. Optoma rates the typical noise level of the UHD35 at 26dB with a maximum of 28dB under lab test conditions that average noise from several locations (our real-world measurements are always higher than manufacturer's numbers). I measured the UHD35 in my living room from a distance of three feet below the ceiling-mounted projector, with an ambient noise floor in the room of 30dBA. In bright lamp mode I measured the fan noise at 39dBA. Dynamic lowers the noise to 37dBA, Eco+ down to 35dBA, and Eco lowers it to 32.5dBA. The noise is initially noticeable in bright mode, but quickly forgotten once viewing begins.
Input Lag. The input lag on the UHD35 outside of game mode measured 33.7ms with my available Leo Bodnar 1080p/60Hz lag meter. Turning on Enhanced Gaming mode lowered the input lag to an expected 17.1ms at 1080p/60Hz.
- HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 (x2)
- VGA in
- USB Type A for power
- 3.5mm audio in
- 3.5mm audio out
- 12V trigger
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma UHD35 projector page.