The ViewSonic X10-4K offers good 4K picture quality at its price point that should suit less-critical viewers attracted to its portability and lifestyle features, but serious home theater enthusiasts or gamers will find conventional projectors that offer better image quality and placement flexibility.
The ViewSonic X10-4K is the first introduction of the company's X series projectors, to be joined by the X1000-4K UST projector later this year. At a street price of $1,499, it falls between ViewSonic's PX747-4K and LS700-4K and joins the burgeoning sub-$2,000 4K projector market. The X10-4K has a fixed short-throw lens with auto-focus and auto-keystone capabilities. Although no claims are made for its color gamut beyond Rec. 709, ViewSonic says it will support DCI-P3 color out to 83%, which was verified by our measurements. Some competitive products at this price (the new BenQ HT3550, for example) claim full DCI-P3 coverage along with at least modest zoom and lens shift capabilities, as well as offering better contrast. But then, the X10-4K does include some things you won't find in many projectors, such as built-in Harman Kardon Bluetooth speakers, smart home assistant capability, and wireless connectivity for streaming. These features, along with its solid-state LED light source and boxy cabinet complete with carry handle, target the X10-4K more as a lifestyle projector designed for portability and ease-of-use than these other models.
ViewSonic differentiates the X10-4K from many of its competitors with the projector's light source. Instead of a traditional lamp, the X10-4K has a RGBB LED engine with an output of 2,400 LED lumens and a life of 30,000 hours. LED lumens is a manufacturer's estimate of an equivalent ANSI lumen specification that accounts for the fact that LED light is perceived to be brighter than what industry-standard ANSI lumen measurements suggest. (You can read more about LED lumens here in ProjectorCentral's article on the subject, and at ViewSonic's website. The X10-4K's ANSI lumen specification is 1,000 lumens, though we measured less.
The X10-4K uses a second-generation 0.47-inch Texas Instruments DLP chip with XPR technology that pixel-shifts a 1080p image four ways to achieve the 4K picture. While many may gripe that this means the ViewSonic isn't a true 4K projector, the difference is indistinguishable. The new second-generation chip limits the dark band around the projected image that was very evident with the first-generation chip. There still is a smaller dark band visible, but if your screen has any black masking around the screen material (like my Stewart does) the distraction it causes is negligible.
For a straight-on image, the X10-4K works best on a mid-sized shelf that places the lens a little above the bottom of the screen (or below the top if you choose to ceiling-mount it). There is an adjustable, two-position stand at the front to angle the lens up (by 15 or 30 percent) if the projector is placed on a lower table below the screen. As mentioned, the keystone adjustment and focus both have auto settings (on by default) to set up the image once the projector is placed. They can do a decent job, but can be inconsistent. I turned them both to manual in the projector's menu and fine-tuned them myself. The projector lens has a throw ratio of 0.8 and a throw distance range of 1.6 to 11.5 feet. It required just about 70 inches from my 100-inch screen for a full image. You can check the ProjectorCentral ViewSonic X10-4K throw calculator to establish the distance for your preferred image size.
There are some nice modern amenities that come with the X10-4K. There's an adjustable Eye Protection motion sensor (turned off by default in the latest firmware) that shuts the light off if anything moves within 50 or 100 cm (approximately 20 to 40 inches) depending on the setting. It's useful if you have a little one whose attention gets drawn in by bright lights. The two Harman Kardon speakers (each on one side) can be connected to via Bluetooth to use the X10 as a sound system for your mobile device. Pairing is quick and easy, and while in Bluetooth mode the projector light shuts off. The frequency response for the on-board sound system focuses on the mids for the benefit of dialogue; bass response is a bit light, as would be expected for smaller speakers without a dedicated enclosure. But they're able to play at a good volume without breaking up, so they're perfectly fine for a backyard movie night.
There is an included Wi-Fi dongle to allow connection to your wireless network and access to the Aptoide app store to download some app options such as Plex, ABC News, and Netflix. The Netflix app available through the Aptoide store can only be displayed at 480p, though, and the search function is clunky. The projector also allows screen mirroring of your mobile device.
With the Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in speakers, the X10-4K is designed to be a mobile solution. To that end, there's a carrying handle on the back for easy transport. This causes the lens to face downward while carrying, which causes my anxiety to rise. But, in actuality, there's little chance of damage befalling the glass in front of the lens. The handle itself is secure and folds nicely out of the way. There's a stylish leather magnetic cover that covers the back connections when the projector is not in use. It's reminiscent of an Apple iPad cover and gives the projector a modern look. Overall, the build quality and design of the chassis is sturdy and more fashionable than your typical black or white box.
For those with a smart home setup, the X10-4K can be controlled by either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Setup involves creating an account with the ViewSonic Remote app and linking it to your Alexa or Google Assistant account. Once done, you can control volume, input selection, power, and auto-focus with your voice. It works flawlessly. Or, at least as flawlessly as Alexa or Google Assistant do.
The remote has a dim backlight when a button is pressed. It's bright enough to see in the dark without being blinding. There's a large toggle wheel in the middle of the remote that you can spin, or press any of the cardinal directions to navigate menus. There are different sets of menus; Basic and Advanced settings on the Home screen, and image setting and advanced popups for each input. Some things, like switching light source power, can only be changed by leaving the selected input and going back to the Home screen.
ViewSonic is currently running a promo that lasts until September 30, where purchasers of an X10-4K can get a free Roku Streaming Stick+. The Roku interface is the best currently on the market. It's fast, intuitive to use, and there are a slew of apps available that run at 1080p or 4K. The ViewSonic has HDCP 2.2 on both of its HDMI inputs, and it has two USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0) to power the Roku stick. The HDMI ports do not have ARC, so an optical cable will need to be run to your AVR if you want surround sound.
Below is a more complete list of features.
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.
Brightness. In the Brightest color mode with Light Source Level set to Full, the ViewSonic X10-4K measures 761 ANSI Lumens from its LED light source projecting a 92-inch image. The two User modes measure 712 lumens, Gaming at 714, TV at 681, and Movie at 699 lumens. When changed to Eco mode, the light output drops about 18%. While the lumen numbers seem low (ViewSonic rates the output at 2,400 LED lumens and 1,000 ANSI lumens), the perceived brightness of the projector is good and goes well beyond what the ANSI measurement suggests. I had no trouble watching the US Women's National Soccer team win the FIFA World Cup in the morning with curtains open in my living room.
All measurements below were taken at default settings. Note that our ANSI lumen measurements were made and rechecked with multiple luminance and chroma meters but still came up short of ViewSonic's claim of 1,000 ANSI lumens. ProjectorCentral is investigating and will amend this review as needed if other information comes to bear.
Out of the box, the X10-4K was very blue, even in its Movie setting. After calibration, measurements showed a slight green tint but it was not viewable with source material.
Brightness Uniformity. Brightness uniformity measured 79%. With a white test pattern, there is a perceptible hot spot at the bottom middle of the screen, while the top corners are noticeably dim. This was difficult to spot on regular content.
Fan Noise. ViewSonic lists fan noise at 30dB for Full and 26dB for Eco. There's little perceptible difference between the two and unless you're within a foot of the projector, the fan noise is negligible. In High Altitude mode, recommended for 1,500 meters or higher, the fan noise is easy heard and could be distracting during quiet passages.
Input Lag. In 1080p with frame interpolation on (in high, mid, or low), the ViewSonic has an input lag of 133.7 ms. When frame interpolation is off, the input lag drops to 67 ms. The results were essentially the same with a 4K lag meter, showing 66.9 ms with FI off, and 133.6 ms with FI on in any setting. These measurements carried across all picture modes; putting the projector in its Gaming preset, for example, doesn't affect the input lag in any way.
Input lag of 67 ms is far too high for any serious gamer, especially for eSports-style games like Overwatch, or fighters like Mortal Kombat 11. If RP games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 are more your speed, you shouldn't be hampered by the input lag.
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