The Optoma UHD60, now priced at $1799, is unique among the 4K projectors under $2000 in several ways: It has the highest lumen rating (3000), the highest contrast rating (1,000,000:1), and the lowest audible noise rating (28dB). And from what we've seen so far it can be the brightest in certain situations, it could be the highest contrast, and it is definitely the quietest of the units in this wave of recently released, aggressively priced 4K projectors.
The Optoma UHD60 uses the 0.66" DLP chipset, whereas most of the 4K projectors under $2,000 use the new 0.47" chipset, including the ViewSonic PX727-4K ($1299), the Optoma UHD50 ($1499), and the BenQ HT2550 ($1499). Though there is no visible difference in image detail or resolution between the 0.66" chip and the 0.47" chip, the larger chip enables engineers to design for higher light output if they wish. It also gives the designer some additional flexibility to achieve higher contrast as they work with trade-offs between lumen output and contrast.
Optoma UHD60 Performance
Brightness. The Optoma UHD60 is rated at 3000 lumens. However, its Bright mode, which puts out close to 3000 lumens on our test sample, is overtly green in tint and for the most part useless for video presentation unless you don't mind a greenish picture. The remaining preset modes are not as bright but they give you much better color fidelity.
The UHD60 has a Brilliant Color feature which can be set from 1 to 10. The default setting is 10 in all modes except Reference, where it is set to 1 (off). Color saturation and contrast is affected by these settings. In Reference mode, color brightness is 100% of white. On the other hand, in the modes where Brilliant Color defaults to its maximum of 10, color brightness is 55% of white, thus yielding a lower color saturation and brightness relative to white highlights. This can make white elements in a scene appear brighter than surrounding colored elements.
As you drop the Brilliant Color setting, color brightness is maintained while white is reduced. So for example, reducing it from 10 to 6 reduces overall ANSI lumen output by about 17%, but color is not diminished. Color brightness now measures about 70% of white instead of 55%. With this shift there is an increased color saturation and contrast that improves the overall picture, particularly if you are viewing in a dark theater room.
Subjectively many users will find the maximum Brilliant Color setting to be the most appealing because (a) it is the brightest, and (b) it still has sufficiently vibrant color content to avoid looking weak or diminished in saturation. This is particularly true where there is some ambient light in the room or you are setting up a particularly large or low gain screen. However, in a dark theater you may want to experiment with pulling Brilliant Color down to somewhere in the 5 to 7 range to get the increase in saturation and contrast. The results you get will depend upon screen size and gain, and the type of screen. Which setting ultimately appeals to you the most is a matter of personal preference so there is no "ideal" setting. But keep in mind that all of the ANSI lumen measurements in the table below are taken with Brilliant Color set to its default of 10, with the exception of Reference mode where it is off.
The Optoma UHD60 has a single Eco mode which reduces light output by 37%. Eco mode becomes an option when Dynamic Black is turned off. On our test unit there was an intermittent flicker in Eco mode, indicating the light source or power supply did not like being run at that level. The picture is stable in both the Bright and Dynamic Black modes, which are the two modes you are likely to prefer anyway.
Zoom lens light loss. The UHD60 has a 1.6x zoom lens that loses 26% of the projector's maximum light potential when set to the telephoto end, which is not atypical for a zoom lens of this length. So if you want to maximize light output, try to install this projector close enough to the screen that you are using the wider angle end of the zoom range.
Picture Quality in SDR. Out of the box, with the UHD60 in Cinema mode shows a picture that is bright, reasonably high in contrast, and with remarkably good color balance compared to competing models we've seen. Black levels are sufficient to give a pleasing depth, but they are not as deep as you will get on higher priced home theater projectors. They are however competitive with other options in this price range.
A few tweaks will help to improve picture quality. As noted above, you should experiment with the Brilliant Color setting to see whether the default of 10 is best for your installation and screen. Similarly, color saturation at the default of 18 may be too rich and worth pulling down a few notches. There is an Ultra Resolution control which defaults to 1 on a scale of 0 to 3, and should be turned off to minimize noise. Sharpness can be bumped up a couple notches without introducing noticeable artifacts. But these are personal preference adjustments and the picture is quite engaging even without these alterations.
HDR performance. The great thing about HDR on projectors in general is that it does NOT look like the harsh, digitally overprocessed look of HDR on flat panel TVs. HDR, the latest gimmick designed to render the TV you just bought two years ago obsolete, is certainly flashy, and it dazzles consumers on the floor at BestBuy and Costco. But it does not wear well, especially on a big 120" screen. Why? In most cases it looks distractingly artificial. Thankfully, the quality of reflected light you get from a projector+screen in a home theater (like that of a commercial movie theater), has a refinement and elegance that you don't get from the glare of a TV. The quality of this light tends to mitigate the artificial character of HDR, as does the fact that the projector does not boost or darken local areas of the video image like a TV does.
The UHD60's HDR picture is truly impressive straight out of the box; it is remarkably well color balanced, very high in contrast, and (more vitally) completely natural looking. The best of the HDR implementations in front projectors improve the overall contrast and dynamic range of the image beyond what it would be in SDR without making it look digitally manipulated, and this is what we see on the UHD60. The last thing you want to be thinking while watching a film is "wow, look at that HDR." Anytime the video technology itself distracts you from your immersion in the film it has failed. With the UHD60, Optoma has achieved a refined and sophisticated natural balance with HDR.
As noted elsewhere on this site, projectors typically benefit from contrast, brightness, and saturation adjustments to accommodate each individual HDR disc or source. If saturation looks overdriven on a particular disc, take a moment to pull down the saturation control, etc. This is not the fault of the projector, but the non-standardized output levels of the sources. And once you've got the picture dialed in, you get a riveting, deeply engaging video experience, so it is worth the effort to make a few tweaks when each new HDR source seems to call for it.
Image Sharpness. On the UHD60 the lens is very sharp in the middle two-thirds of the image, and tends to soften somewhat toward the sides and corners. However, the subjective viewing experience is one of a very sharp picture across the entire screen since the eye rarely focuses on the sides or the corners of a big screen image; even when it does the softness is subtle enough that it does not look blurred in typical video material. The focus issue is mostly detectable when viewing a test pattern, a still graphic, or a financial spreadsheet.
Brightness Uniformity. The UHD60 registers 64% uniformity at the wide angle end, and 74% at the telephoto end. The image fades somewhat along the sides although this is most visible only in a test pattern. One tends not to notice this in live film or video images because the eye focuses on the center of the image, and one is not even aware of how bright the picture should be at the edges. (For a bit of perspective, the old classic CRT home theater projectors that people paid many tens of thousands of dollars for usually did not generate more than about 50% uniformity.)
Input Lag: The UHD60 has an input lag of 63 ms with Dynamic Black on and 56 ms with Dynamic Black off.
Fan noise. The UHD60 has an audible noise rating of 28 dB, which is the lowest of any of the 4K projectors under $2000. This spec reflects a real difference in fan noise between the UHD60 and its competition. Bottom line, if you're particularly sensitive to fan noise you will love the UHD60.
Rainbow artifacts. The UHD60 has an RGBCY wheel. One may see rainbows on occasion with this configuration. When viewing typical film/video, for me they are scarce and don't rise to the level of a distraction. Some people never see rainbow artifacts, some see them on occasion and are not bothered by them, some find them distracting. If you don't know your own sensitivity to rainbows, buy the UHD60 from a dealer with a friendly return policy and test it out for yourself.
On board Audio. The UHD60 has two 4W speakers. The audio is rather loud and has good bass range for an onboard system, generally about as good as we've heard from a projector. This is handy for portable use or backyard movie night. For serious home theater, if you don't want to go for the full surround system, then consider an external sound bar. This projector demands bigger audio than anything the projector itself could generate.
Lamp Life. At the moment, Optoma is representing that the UHD60 will get 4000 hours in full power mode, 10,000 hours in eco, and 15,000 hours in Dynamic Black mode.
Replacement lamps. A new lamp for the UHD60 is currently priced at $199.
Warranty. The Optoma UHD60 comes standard with a 2 year warranty.
Optoma UHD60 Set Up
The Optoma UHD60's handy 1.6x zoom lens will accommodate a throw distance of anywhere between 12 and a bit over 19 feet to hit a 120" diagonal screen. If your screen is bigger or smaller, check the Optoma UHD60 Projection Calculator for your distance ranges.
This means that if your seats are at a distance of 1.2x or 1.3x the screen width, which would be about 10 to 12 feet from a 120" screen, the projector will be located at or behind the seats. Since the fan noise is so low, you don't need to worry about isolating the unit, and using the wider angle end of the zoom will maximize light output. Ceiling mounting over or just behind the seats makes sense.
The UHD60 has a built in throw angle and modest lens shift. At the minimum position of the lens shift the centerline of the lens intersects the bottom edge of the projected image. From that position you can use the lens shift to raise the image about 20% of the image height (or lower it about 20% if ceiling mounted). Basically, the lens shift is an ideal feature for accommodating a ceiling mount installation.
Since the fan noise is so low and the exhaust flow and heat dissipation is not problematic, you could also consider placing the projector on a low table between the seats, making sure to give it at least 6" clearance on both sides. Keep in mind that the bottom edge of the projected image will be at the level of the lens, and if you're going for a 120" screen you won't want it too high up on the wall.
On the other hand, placing the UHD60 on a rear shelf so that it projects over the heads of the audience is a bit more of a problem. In most home theater situations it will throw the image too high on the wall. You would need to tilt the projector downward, and there is no keystone adjustment available on this unit to square up the resulting distortion.
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