ViewSonic X10-4K 4K LED DLP Projector Review
Preset Modes. The ViewSonic X10-4K offers six picture modes—Brightest, TV, Movie, Gaming, User 1, and User 2—all of which allow color point (primary RGB and secondary CMY) adjustments. Within each picture mode there's the option to choose one of four Color Temp presets: 6500K, 7500K, 9300K, and User. The User Color Temp setting opens up RGB Gain sliders to fine tune the color balance. However, there are no Bias sliders, which would normally be used independently of Gain to fine-tune the color temperature at the lower brightness levels. SDR and HDR share the same presets. When an HDR signal is detected, the X10-4K automatically enables an EOTF settings menu option allowing for HDR settings of Low, Mid, and High.
The brightest picture mode is, not unexpectedly, the one called Brightest. It had an average lumen reading of 761 in the Full light-source power level and 628 in ECO mode. It isn't the most color accurate, though. Movie mode, with its default settings, has the best out-of-the-box accuracy and 699 average lumens. This sounds pretty low, but remember we're looking at a LED light source so the perceived brightness is much higher. My screen is a 0.9-gain Stewart Grayhawk, and I did about half of my viewing during the day in my living room with curtains open in this mode and had no issues with sports, news, or talk shows. Any movie viewing, especially darker fare with darker scenes like The Dark Knight, had to wait until the evening.
Brightness uniformity was measured at 79%, which is average or better, however it showed on the X10-4K with a noticeable hotspot at the middle-bottom of the screen. This is not necessarily unexpected with a short throw or ultra-short throw projector. The top of the screen was the dimmest, with the upper left and right corners having the biggest deviation from the middle bottom. It was visible when viewing a full screen white test pattern and could sometimes be seen on video content as bright highlights moved across the screen. It wasn't excessive, though, and when I wasn't looking for it it never really distracted me.
Using CalMan software, a Photo Research PR-650 spectroradiometer, and an AV Foundry VideoForge Classic pattern generator, I determined that Movie mode was the most accurate out-of-the-box setting. But even with its color temp setting at 6500K, it measured a high color temperature of 8498K on my screen. Grayscale tracking was very blue with Delta E values that ranged up to 12.4 at 100% white. Changing the color temp setting to User, it was easy to dial in a near-perfect gain measurement. After the adjustments, the grayscale measured a tad green across the brightness range, but not enough to notice during regular use. The default 2.2 gamma setting tracked linearly around 2.3. In the 2.0 setting, gamma tracked just under 2.2.
Rec. 709 color points out of the box were all oversaturated. Delta E values ranged from 5.1 for red to 11.9 for blue. Both magenta and cyan were too blue, while yellow tended towards green. Most of these issues were fixed after calibration with Delta E dropping as low as 0.3 for Cyan. Blue and magenta gamut luminance was still low (although their xy coordinates were good), leading to Delta E of 5.3 and 6.6, respectively. The X10-4K definitely greatly benefited from a calibration, though the cost of professional calibration for a projector at this price point might be deemed prohibitive or unnecessary by most of its target customers.
1080p/SDR Viewing. The third season of Stranger Things on Netflix was released as I was reviewing the ViewSonic, and the bright colors and neon of the Starcourt Mall came through beautifully on the projector. While the blue target in CalMAN was a little off, there was no indication while watching. Blue skies in the (admittedly limited) outside daylight scenes looked natural. Where the X10-4K struggled was in shadow details in dark scenes. Even late at night, after my kid was in bed, seeing detail in Mrs. Driscoll's basement or while the gang ran through the woods at night to escape [REDACTED] proved difficult.
This was accentuated in a viewing of The Dark Knight on Blu-ray. I've recently revisited the Nolan Batman series and, in addition to this film having one of my all-time favorite performances, I find the sequence when the Joker attempts to capture Harvey Dent to be an excellent test for shadow detail. The hardest part to properly show are all the details in the nooks and crannies of the Batmobile. On the ViewSonic, the deepest crevasses of the Batmobile and some details in the big rig the Joker is driving get lost.
The autofocus does a pretty good job during setup, but I still switched to manual to fine tune the image. It's all done through the menus—there are no physical focus adjustment knobs on the projector itself. Even so, I found details to be ever so slightly soft. But, at a reasonable viewing distance (I sit around 10 feet away from my screen) it's hardly noticeable.
UHD/HDR Viewing. As is often noted at ProjectorCentral, projectors don't typically have the brightness required to manage the standard ST2084 EOTF (gamma curve) associated with HDR10, leaving manufacturers to tune their tone-mapping as they see fit to adapt bright HDR content to the capabilities of their displays. Some projectors do better than others in maintaining contrast while attempting to adjust the HDR brightness level.
Not surprisingly, the EOTF curve on the X10-4K falls pretty significantly under target, especially in the darker to mid-level grays. There are three levels to the EOTF menu option that help to boost the curve; the tradeoff is that black level rises a bit, too, as you try to boost the highlights. I settled on the Mid setting. It gave me some more of the shadow details I missed in Low on dark scenes, without looking slightly washed out in bright scenes as I often saw with the High setting.
The flight of the Millennium Falcon through the Maw in Solo can look foreboding and brilliant as we can only guess what awaits Han, Chewie, Qi'ra, Lando, and Beckett in the depths. The glow of the engines in the crackling darkness was missing some brilliance I expected to see based on prior HDR viewings. The effect of HDR was noticeable but wasn't very much better than watching it without HDR. In the sabacc scene that introduces the dashing Lando Calrissian, the crowd looked smaller because many of the creatures eagerly watching the card showdown blended into the black background instead of their individual details standing out.
The X10-4K supports HDR10 with gaming as well, and I found the depth and detail it provides with Xbox games to exceed its movie performance. Sea of Thieves is one of my favorite looking games of the past couple years. Its animation is stylized and with HDR it has some of the best water effects I've ever seen in a game. The waves as seen on the ViewSonic looked spectacular. There's a beautiful collection of blues that crest to whites as your galleon cuts through the sea. The gaming HDR performance is evident when looking at the sun, too. Instead of a blob of bright light that it can be in SDR, you can see a distinct sphere with the solar corona bursting forth. It's quite a beautiful image.
3D Viewing. 3D glasses are not included with the X10-4K, but any DLP-Link glasses should work. The menu offers the ability to set the 3D format to one of six settings—off, frame sequential, frame packing, top-bottom, side-by-side, and auto. I left it on auto, and the X10 correctly chose the proper viewing format from my Xbox One X every time. If I selected the specific format, it would sometimes sync correctly and other times would give me a scrambled mess.
When 3D mode kicks in there is a distinct blue shift, even though the picture mode and all calibration settings stay the same. Brightness is reduced as to be expected, but there's still plenty if you watch in a dark room. With ambient light, the image looks too washed out.
The animation of Coraline has some nice depth and I didn't witness any crosstalk. That changed a bit with Ant-Man. The depth was still very good, but there were multiple moments of crosstalk, especially with set details in the back of the picture. For example, in chapter 6 ("Trial by Water"), the back of the shrinking test lab and the back of the office overlooking the lab get distracting to the action up front.
The ViewSonic X10-4K has a very good picture for a portable, LED projector, though it comes with some caveats. Brightness is enough for daytime viewing of sports, news, and talk shows, although darker movies will need to wait until the sun goes down or the blackout curtains are drawn. Shadow details can get lost with its limited black level, and the dynamic range of its HDR is a tad lackluster. At larger image sizes, the focus can look slightly soft. But, the added amenities of Harman Kardon speakers, Wi-Fi connectivity, and an attractive chassis with a sturdy carrying handle make it perfect to bring out from the living room to the backyard for some movie nights, or to toss into the car for a family vacation. Auto focus and keystone correction are very helpful for a quick setup, although, due to the projector's fixed lens, image size is always dependent on the distance to the screen.
The $1,500 price point is getting a bit crowded, and there are other more traditional projectors now that deliver better image quality and provide greater flexibility with a zoom lens and lens shift. However, a high performance viewing experience is probably not the end game for the ViewSonic X10-4K's primary customer, and this projector stands out with its attractive design, its 30,000-hour solid-state light source, its range of lifestyle features like Bluetooth capability and voice control, and its ease of use. If you're looking for a compact tabletop projector that's also ready to travel and don't need a full sound system, it's worth a good look.
|Review Contents:||Introduction, Features||Performance, Conclusion||Connections, Measurements|
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