- 4K UHD (3840x2160) resolution using TI's XPR fast-switch pixel shifting
- HDR10 and HLG support
- Designed for ambient light; rated at 3,200 ANSI lumens, measured at 80% of the rating
- One set of five color presets plus two user modes for SDR, a second set for HDR10, and a third set for HLG
- Rated at 4.2 ms input lag for 1080p @ 240Hz
- Design emphasis is on brightness at the expense of default color accuracy and black level
- Some settings controls, including the ones for brightness and contrast, can't be moved from dead center of the image, hindering proper adjustment
- No 3D
The ViewSonic PX701-4K is designed for ambient light, whether for movies and video or for gaming. Most people will consider its out of box color accuracy more than acceptable for casual viewing with lights on. It can also serve as an inexpensive 4K projector for a home theater, especially after calibration.
The ViewSonic PX701-4K is one of a handful of 4K UHD (3840x2160) projectors selling for less than $1,000 at this writing. It's also the newest and the least expensive, at $961.99 from ViewSonic and available on other sites for $899.99. As you would expect from the budget price for 4K, some features—including the 1.1x optical zoom—are on the minimal side, and the design leaves out leading edge conveniences like streaming. But the PX701-4K does well at its essential job of delivering a highly watchable image.
As the 3,200 ANSI lumen rating suggests, the natural home for the PX701-4K is in a room with ambient light. Most people will consider the image more than acceptable for a family room straight of the box, while serious gamers will also be attracted by the faster-than-typical lag time for 4K models. And although it doesn't offer the color accuracy, contrast, or black level a serious enthusiast would ideally want, it can also do a credible job on image quality with lights off.
The PX701-4K is built around a RGBWRGBW 8-segment color wheel and a 0.47-inch DLP chip, which generates 3840x2160 pixels using TI's XPR fast-switch pixel shifting. It supports both HDR10 and HLG, automatically switching to the right mode as needed. At 6.2 pounds, it's light enough to carry easily from room to room or elsewhere, and the light weight along with the 4.3 x 12.3 x 8.7-inch (HWD) size makes it easy to handle for permanent setup.
The lens offset is designed for placement on a flat surface just below the screen or inverted in a ceiling mount just above it, while the 1.1x manual zoom offers some flexibility for positioning. The menus offer up to +/- 40 degree vertical and horizontal keystone correction, corner correction, and even a Warping option, for geometric correction when using a curved surface as a screen.
There's no onboard network support, but in addition to the two HDMI 2.0b ports, there's a USB 2.0 Type A port that can power an HDMI dongle. The rated 4.2 ms lag time at 1080p/240Hz, will certainly appeal to gamers, as will the onboard audio. The 10-watt mono speaker delivers slightly tinny but quite usable sound quality at high enough volume for a large family room. For permanent installation, you can connect an external audio system to the 3.5mm analog stereo output. Note that there's no optical digital audio output, however.
Here's a summary of the ViewSonic PX701-4K's key features:
- 3840x2160 maximum resolution with 0.47-inch DLP XPR chip
- 3,200 ANSI lumen rating, measured at 2,582 ANSI lumens
- 20,000-hour rated lamp life in SuperEco+; 6,000 hour rating in Normal mode
- Supports HDR10 and HLG
- 12,000:1 rated dynamic contrast ratio
- 1.1x zoom lens
- +/- 40 degree vertical and horizontal manual keystone; automatic vertical keystone
- Four-corner correction
- Warping geometric adjustment for projection on curved surfaces
- Onboard 10-watt mono speaker
- 3-year warranty; 1-year on light source
Color Modes. The PX701-4K offers separate sets of color modes for SDR, HDR10, and HLG input using the same names for each set, but letting you customize each version separately. For each set, there are five presets and two User modes.
For SDR content, none of the preset modes delivered particularly good color accuracy with default settings, but even the least accurate was in a range most people would consider watchable for casual viewing. As with most projectors, the brightest mode, also named Brightest, had the least accurate color. It looked slightly blue-green shifted—confirmed by measurements using Calman color calibration software from Portrait Displays, a Murideo Six-G signal generator, and an X-Rite i1Pro2 photospectrometer—but still usable by most people's standards if you need its high brightness.
Sports and Movie modes were subjectively similar to each other, despite measurements showing notably better color accuracy for Movie mode. Both offered a step up in color accuracy from Brightest mode, by measurement as well as subjectively, but some colors in each looked a little too dark.
Standard and Gaming modes were also similar to each other, delivering the most neutral color straight out of the box. However, neither was a match for Movie mode for handling the subtle gradations that help give close ups of rounded objects like faces a more three dimensional look. Based on that observation as well as measurements, I chose Movie mode for SDR calibration.
Using default settings, Delta Es—the measurement of how far off target the reading is—were as high as 19 for the six primary and secondary colors, far above the desirable maximum of 3, where a color error is negligible. Setting Brilliant Color to 1 brought the numbers down dramatically. Further adjustments to each color brought two of the six points below the Delta E target of 3, two more just above 3—barely off target—and two in the range of 5 to just over 6. Although the last two are farther off than you ideally want, they're not far enough off to be a problem unless you have a particularly critical eye.
After setting Brilliant Color to 1, color temperature was 5,692K. Changing the setting for color temperature to 7,500K brought the measurement up to 6,426K, just below the desired 6,500K.
I measured the default Gamma 2.2 setting at 2.23, and reset it to 2.5 to bring it closer to the 2.4 target for a dark room. After calibration, it measured 2.31. I also adjusted the Brightness (black level) and Contrast (peak white), and did some minor adjustment of Gain and Offset to improve grayscale. Note that all three of these settings show up centered vertically and horizontally on the image, with no way to move them (although there's an option that allows you to reposition the main menu). You have to close the setting window after each small change, see if it accomplished what you wanted, and then chose the setting option again if it didn't.
At full power before calibration, with all default settings, I measured the image brightness on my 90-inch, 1.0-gain white screen at 114.4 foot-lamberts (ft-L). After changing to Movie mode and calibrating, the brightness was 36.7 ft-L, which is a little brighter than generally recommended for a dark room, but still in the range that some people prefer.
For HDR input none of the HDR modes offered good color accuracy with default settings. I measured double digit Delta Es for at least two of the six primary and secondary colors in all five modes, while the smallest error in any mode was 4.4. However the color was suitably neutral. Subjectively, most people would consider the color accuracy good enough for casual viewing, even though colors were off by enough to see the difference in scenes I'm familiar with.
None of the modes delivered a satisfyingly dark black level, but Standard and Gaming modes did best on that score, while also delivering the best shadow detail with default settings. As with most HDR projectors, you need to adjust the HDR mode for each movie to compensate for a lack of universal standards—a setting that—unlike most projectors—the PX701-4K accurately labels as EOTF. After choosing settings for each color mode, Movie delivered the best shadow detail and black level, and the closest measurement to what EOTF should be, making it my starting point for calibration.
I was able to improve color accuracy for primary and secondary colors significantly, bringing three to Delta E's of 3.5 or below, and two of those well below 3. The other three ranged between 6.3 and 12.3.
After calibration, the final measured brightness for peak white with HDR input was significantly higher than for SDR, at 246.7 nits (72.01 ft-L). The measured color volume was 53.3% Rec.709 (35.8% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut), an improvement on the pre-calibration measurement. The calibrated SDR Movie mode delivered an even larger color volume, at 82.8% Rec.709 (56.1% DCI-P3).
1080p/SDR Viewing. For SDR viewing, I made one post-calibration setting change. In the darkest of my go to dark scenes, in Batman v Superman, where we get our first view of the proto batcave, there simply wasn't enough contrast to show much shadow detail or give the scene much visual impact. Switching to Dynamic Eco power mode, which has much the same effect as an auto-iris by adjusting brightness depending on the image content, delivered a significant improvement without any change in brightly lit scenes.
Want more articles like this?
Subscribe to get ProjectorCentral's comprehensive coverage of projector tech delivered directly to your inbox.
Even Dynamic Eco mode didn't bring out all of the shadow detail I know is in the scene, but it added enough to get a sense of individual bats, and it improved contrast enough to make the scene far more dramatic visually. The change even made the black level appear darker (with no change in the actual level), by increasing the contrast between black and the highlights on the rocks and the bats' glowing eyes.
Colors in scenes I'm familiar with, from flesh tones, to the vibrant colors throughout La La Land, to the water, sky, and pastel-colored buildings James Bond passes on his way to his hotel in Casino Royale, looked like I expect them to. And in Hummingbirds Jewelled Messengers, a documentary on South American hummingbirds narrated by David Attenborough, the PX701-4K delivered both stunningly luminescent color for the hummingbirds and breathtaking views of the environment, from foggy rainforest to close up views of hummingbirds feasting on the nectar of vibrant-colored flowers.
In lighting equivalent to a family room at night with lights on, the brighter scenes held up well with the calibrated mode, but the darkest, like my go to batcave scene, had unacceptably low contrast and lost most of the shadow detail. Switching to Gaming mode, which is designed to maintain contrast and shadow detail for dark images in games, boosted both to make details in dark scenes more visible in ambient light. When I substituted my Screen Innovations Slate 1.2 ALR screen at the same image size, the gray screen and ambient light rejection added another step up in contrast and shadow detail, but not by enough for more than occasional use for watching movies with dark scenes in ambient light.
I also tested the projector in a family room with lots of windows using an 80-inch 1.0-gain white screen. The calibrated image was easily bright enough to stand up to high hat lights at night. For viewing on a bright day, Gaming mode's higher brightness delivered a watchable, if not particularly impressive, image suitable for watching typical live or recorded video.
Note that the PX701-4K doesn't offer frame interpolation or 3D. Very much on the plus side, I saw fewer rainbow artifacts than with many DLP projectors, and those few were fleeting. But as with any single-chip DLP projector, if rainbow artifacts are a concern, be sure to buy from a vendor who allows easy returns, so you can judge the issue yourself.
UHD/HDR Viewing. The benefits of Dynamic Eco mode apply to HDR viewing as well. Beyond that, I found the Mid EOTF setting worked best for most movies in a dark room and the High setting worked best with ambient light. However, for some movies in a dark room, Mid was a little too dark overall while High was washed out, leaving me with having to decide which compromise I was most comfortable with.
The only obvious difference I saw between movies on disc that I viewed in both SDR and HDR versions was lower color accuracy in scenes I'm familiar with—a fully predicable result from my Calman measurements. A dress that should have been bright red in the highway dance scene in La La Land was closer to maroon, for example. But none of the colors was far enough off to notice if you're not familiar with the scene.
For viewing with lights on, brightly lit scenes stood up well enough for occasional casual viewing, but colors were noticeably washed out compared with the SDR versions of the same movies with lights on. In addition, details in backlit faces in the highway dance scene in La La Land were hard to make out, the same loss of shadow detail showed in dark scenes, and none of the color modes boosted brightness enough to noticeably improve either dark or brightly lit scenes.
The Innovations Slate 1.2 ALR screen improved contrast in dark scenes, but the gray screen also left colors in brighter scenes looking too dark, and it didn't do anything to improve shadow detail in backlit faces and bodies. That said, my 80-inch white screen offered enough of a boost in image brightness, thanks to the smaller screen area, to deliver a comfortably watchable HDR image with lights on in my family room at night.
In the ProjectorCentral 10-bit HDR Grayscale test animation, which verifies 10-bit processing from input to image, I saw a minor loss of smoothness—not banding so much as a slight mottling over a small segment of both the dark gray wheel (video IRE levels from black up to 20) and the light one (video IRE levels from white down to 20). However, the issue was so minor that it was hard to see even in the test animation, and I didn't see any sign of a problem in my viewing tests.
The ViewSonic PX701-4K may not be quite the light canon you'd like for HDR in ambient light, but it at least approaches that level, and does it at a budget price for a 4K projector. Although the calibrated HDR mode in my tests couldn't stand up to ambient light as well as an SDR image with my 90-inch white screen, both HDR and SDR stood up nicely to the lights in my family room at night using an 80-inch 1.0 gain screen, which would translate to a 90-inch size with a 1.3 gain screen. That's probably not be as large an image as you really want, but it's larger than earlier generation HDR projectors could manage well in ambient light, especially for models at the low end of the price range.
Of course, the default settings are meant to favor brightness over color accuracy, but even with the defaults all modes deliver good enough color accuracy for most people to find them acceptable or better—depending on the mode—when there's enough ambient light to need the extra brightness.
The fact that calibration can deliver far better color accuracy at a lower brightness level is a welcome extra. Serious video enthusiasts may not be satisfied with even the calibrated combination of color accuracy, shadow detail, and black level, particularly for HDR. But for less critical users, the improved image after calibration also makes the PX701-4K a potentially strong budget choice for viewing movies in a dark room.
Brightness. With the 1.1x zoom lens set to its widest angle setting, I measured the following brightness levels for each color mode using Normal, Eco, and SuperEco+ power levels:
Note that there's also a Dynamic Eco mode, which reduces the image brightness and power consumption by varying amounts depending on the image content.
Zoom Lens Light Loss: The 1.1x optical zoom is too little to affect brightness at the full telephoto setting.
Brightness Uniformity (Maximum Wide Angle): 66%. Despite the low number, the difference is noticeable only on a 100% white or light-colored image, thanks to the distance between the brightest and least bright measurement points and the gradual change in brightness.
Lowest Measured Input Lag (4K): 16.9 ms at 60Hz
Lowest Measured Input Lag (1080p): 16.8 ms at 60 Hz
Fan Noise: ViewSonic rates the noise level at 31 dB in Normal mode and 27 dB in Eco mode. You can hear it in either mode in quiet moments in a small room, but even in Normal mode it's the kind of steady sound that tends to fade into the background, particularly in a family room with ambient noise. There is also a Silence mode that turns off the XPR pixel shifting and effectively turns the PX701-4K into a 1080p projector, but I didn't hear any difference in the noise level when I turned it on.
ViewSonic recommends using High Altitude mode at 4,921 to 9,842 feet. With it on, the fan noise in Eco mode is about the same as in Normal mode with High Altitude mode off. In Normal mode though, it's enough louder that anyone who is bothered by fan noise may want to consider some form of acoustic isolation.
- HDMI 2.0b (x2) with HDCP 2.2
- USB 2.0 Type A (for power only)
- 3.5mm stereo out
- RS-232 (for control)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our ViewSonic PX701-4K projector page.