Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
- Pleasing color
- Accurate skin tones
- High contrast for a DLP
- Clear, easy to use menus
- 3D compatible
- Only two HDMI ports
- Color gamut limited to Rec.709
- Rudimentary streaming features
- Minor black crush in deep shadows
The first 4K laser UST projector from ViewSonic is an excellent choice at its price point. It is compact, offers great picture quality, supports 3D, and is easy to use.
The X2000B is ViewSonic's first 4K Laser TV UST. Unlike bulb-based projectors, it uses a laser-phosphor light source that's rated at 2,000 ANSI lumens and 20,000 hours lifespan. This model's official MSRP is $3,099 but its common street price is $2,899, and at this writing it was being offered for a promotional price of $2,599 with some retailers.
In its marketing, ViewSonic refers to this being its second-generation laser phosphor light source technology. And while the official specifications discuss a 3,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, the more meaningful capability is the X2000B's 3000:1 native contrast ratio. This keeps pace with projectors known to use the ALPD 3.0 light source from Appotronics.
The X2000B's default picture mode settings deliver a pleasing picture with accurate skin tones. It may not offer the intense color saturation of a triple-laser RGB UST, but it does a good job with the capability it has.
The X2000B pulls off a tricky balancing act: It's easy to use but offers the right adjustments needed to get the most out of what it has to offer hardware-wise. Each of the picture modes offers calibration controls. While you need a meter and software to perform a proper calibration, if you have the tools, doing so is straightforward, effective, and only takes a few minutes because you can achieve high accuracy with a basic 2-point grayscale adjustment.
ViewSonic equips this UST with a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, one of which supports ARC. There is a stereo analog output on the X2000B that is usable as either a headphone jack or a stereo line output. With an appropriate adapter cable, the same jack can alternatively serve as a coaxial-digital output. Unfortunately, the lack of a variable audio output that tracks with the projector's volume control means you can't use it to feed an outboard subwoofer to supplement the built-in speakers. For Internet and network connections, it has both Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port.
This projector provides multiple mounting options including front and rear-projection and placement either above or below the screen. There are screw holes on the bottom of the unit for use with the ceiling mount bracket. It's surprisingly compact among USTs, measuring 17.75 x 3.9 x 13.1 inches (WHD), and offers somewhat unusual styling with a front grille that protrudes wider than the actual projector cabinet. It weighs 15 pounds.
The 0.22:1 throw ratio is typical for midrange UST projectors, but what is unusual is ViewSonic specifying compatibility with screen sizes ranging from 65 inches up to 150 inches. It's not that it is the only UST that can do this, but it is the only one I know that puts such a wide range of sizes in the official specifications. Pragmatically, it means that the projector will be able to properly focus within that range of screen sizes. But it is worth noting that lenticular ALR screens are typically only available in 100-inch and 120-inch sizes.
While the menu system is simple and easy to navigate, the ViewSonic's built-in apps and streaming capabilities leave a lot to be desired. I decided not to push my luck with the Netflix app; it did not work and when the projector tried to run an app update, it froze. If your goal is to stream 4K from a wide variety of the latest services, my advice remains the same as with any other UST projector I've reviewed: add your own 4K streaming device.
ViewSonic provides tools for sharing media from your smartphone, including screen mirroring via Wi-Fi. The process of mirroring is different for iOS and Android but either way it takes just a couple of simple steps. You can also directly cast content to the projector using compatible Android devices.
The X2000B supports HDR10 and HLG source content, but while it covers the Rec.709 space used for SDR video, it is not able to cover the DCI-P3 color space often used in HDR mastering. Cable, satellite and broadcast TV—as well as HD streaming and Blu-rays—are SDR and use the Rec.709 color space. Keep in mind, HDR and wide color gamut are not the same thing, but they typically go together.
With HDR content, this projector compensates for its color gamut limitations with relatively high native contrast, fairly accurate color, and skin tones that ring true. Contrast is what gives an image visual pop—regardless of whether it is SDR or HDR—and that's an area where the ViewSonic does well.
When using the projector in an improvised setup, the Wall Color feature lets you compensate for painted, non-white walls. But it is a heavy-handed effect, something you'd only use for a temporary setup. But when you consider that this is a relatively compact and therefore portable projector—at least compared to many other USTs—there are situations where it could conceivably come in handy, along with the digital keystone and warping functions. It's cool that you can set it up temporarily for something like a live sports event or a presentation.
The remote is motion sensing and lights up when you grab it. It's an infrared remote, so it doesn't need pairing, but it does need direct line of sight to the projector to work. ViewSonic says they plan on phasing in a Bluetooth remote in the future. In addition to playback and navigation controls, volume adjustment, and power, the remote also has a dedicated button for input, Bluetooth, focusing, picture mode and mute. ViewSonic also has an app that can control the projector. However, you won't find any buttons or controls on the X2000B's chassis, aside from power switch.
The X2000B uses the same five picture mode names for SDR and HDR: Brightest, TV, Movie, Gaming and User. But each mode does measure differently depending on whether it is showing SDR or HDR video.
The secret to the X2000B's success is in how it makes the most of its capabilities. For example, peak brightness may be rated at 2,000 ANSI lumens, but it is able to deliver close to that level in the Movie mode, and provides full brightness in Brightest and Gaming modes, which have a color temperature of around 8,500K-9,000K.
With this projector, I encourage owners to try each picture mode and simply cycle through the color temperature options. Use the combinations that best suits your taste, the content, and the lighting conditions. On this projector, there is little penalty for picking one color temperature over the other, the brightness levels are consistently in the same ballpark. And no matter what mode you are in, the Sharpness setting should be set to zero.
This projector has built-in motion processing, and I found that except for the Movie mode where I turned it off altogether, I preferred running the Frame Interpolation setting on Low (the other options being Mid and High). Low does just enough to help clarify the image without adding an artificial look to 24p (movie) content.
One thing that does not measure differently between the modes is the color gamut coverage, which is consistently around 100% of Rec.709, but only 76% of the DCI-P3 space.
SDR Picture Modes. In most projectors, what's labeled as the Brightest picture mode is usually only there to meet the brightness specification. Not so with this ViewSonic. The Brightest setting is completely usable; indeed, it appears tuned for viewing in the sort of brighter settings that pose a challenge to any projector. But it does not have any significant color cast that would disqualify it as an option.
Next up is the TV mode. It seeks to replicate the look of a flat-panel TV in its default settings, which typically involves processing such as noise reduction and motion interpolation, and the use of a color temperature that is on the cool side, in this case it measures 10,200K. My recommendation is that if you plan to use this mode, play with the color temperature setting, it defaults to 9300K but the 7500K setting looks better.
One of the strong points of this projector is a well-tuned SDR Movie mode. This mode retains 86% of the peak luminance while displaying good accuracy for an uncalibrated projector. For movies, a 6,500K color temperature is technically correct and this ViewSonic comes close enough to it, measuring 6,900K. Gamma is 2.23, which is close enough versus the target gamma of 2.2. This picture mode's defaults avoid the heavy-handed processing of the TV mode.
The Movie mode's DeltaE color error of 4.4 is notably low considering this is an uncalibrated projector. You can tell it is handling color well, with accurately rendered skin tones that are among the picture quality highlights of this projector.
Gaming mode offers lower latency, which I measured at 40.8 milliseconds for 4K/60 signals and 37.2 ms for 1080p/60. It defaults to a highly elevated gamma—I measured 1.5—that lets you easily see what's lurking in deep shadows. This high gamma is helpful to gamers, but it is not something you'd use for regular content. One thing you can say about Gaming mode is it is very bright, as bright as the projector gets. If you are a gamer, you'll have to put it in Gaming mode manually, as there is no Automatic Low Latency Mode functionality on this projector.
The User mode lets you dial in your own custom settings. By default it was too warm with a 5,800K color temperature. But with just a little tweaking using a meter, it can easily be calibrated to match your specific needs. I got a perfect grayscale response (Delta E of 0.95) out of it with a basic 2-point calibration, and it only took a few minutes.
HDR Picture Modes. As mentioned, the HDR picture modes on this projector have the same names and share the same basic settings with the SDR modes. But when an HDR input is sensed, the projector uses the EOTF setting (Low, Mid, High) to translate HDR into something the X2000B can display.
There are some small differences between SDR and HDR in each mode. I measured slight shifts in color temperature and contrast ratio, with SDR having slightly higher contrast than anywhere in any given mode.
SDR Viewing. The X2000B is on solid ground with SDR content. It stands out from the single laser 4K UST pack with high native contrast—for a DLP projector. I measured 2,832:1 using Brightest mode, in a darkened space. The measured contrast ratio varies depending on the mode but stays above 2000:1 in all the SDR picture modes.
Switching between the Brightest and TV picture modes, I preferred Brightest. It's what I would choose for typical TV viewing because it has more punch along with a similar level of color accuracy versus the TV mode. While the gamma of TV mode is high at 1.7—which manifests as elevated midtones—that choice works out when there's significant amounts of ambient light in the room.
Brightest may not offer textbook accuracy, but with a lenticular UST screen it gives this UST a fighting chance at emulating the look of a giant TV during the day. If what you are watching is bright (i.e., sports, nature shows, but definitely not a film noir) you are good to go. A UST works great for daytime baseball or football games, golf, tennis, soccer, or any other live sports that you might watch during the day and in a well-lit room.
Since we are deep into summer, baseball is what's on and one of the final things I watched on the X2000B was the Phillies losing to the Mets. While the result of the game was unfortunate, the way the evening game looked on the ViewSonic was reason to cheer. This is the projector at its best, no need for overblown saturation. I streamed the game via YouTube TV and the picture, despite being HD resolution, looked as good as any cable TV feed I've seen on a big screen in a sports bar.
The main thing that stood out, as is the theme with this projector, were the skin tones. In baseball, a lot of time is spent with the camera focused right on player's faces, and some of the triple-laser models tend to overdo the skin tones and make players look like they have sunburns. Since live sports is mostly in SDR HD not 4K HDR, it's the color and contrast and motion rendering that carry the day. Indeed, if you could not clearly follow the ball, the whole discussion would be moot. But with this UST, the path taken by each pitch is crystal clear, the ball remains distinct.
The other thing about baseball is the background is full of advertisements, so it's very colorful. And you can see the crowd; indeed, I could see the look on every face of every spectator within the frame, during each at-bat.
Your eyes and your brain know what skin, sky, grass and dirt should look like. The color tuning of the X2000B—even in the technically inaccurate Brightest mode—nonetheless rings true and is easy to watch.
Long story short, whatever sports you like to watch, it's more fun to watch on 100-inch screen (even when your team loses, lol). On that note, I can't wait for football season to start.
At night, the TV picture mode technically offers a more accurate gamma than Brightest mode; it is precisely spot-on at 2.2. But you lose as much brightness as when using the Movie mode, and the default color temperature is a cool 10,200K. I saw no reason to use the TV mode as-is when the Movie mode is just as bright and—to my eyes anyhow—looks better because it is a lot more color accurate and the warmer color temperature is easier on the eyes.
While for the purposes of this review I used all the picture modes, when I watched movies or streaming shows with my wife in the evening, I only used Movie mode. Movie is plenty bright if the lights are dimmed. And the only other mode I was personally interested in is Gaming.
Happily, this is a fully 3D compatible projector. And it works! 3D looks great. I watched numerous scenes from Gravity. I love how in the opening shot George Clooney comes swooping into the foreground and then back to the space shuttle and it doesn't look like little toys—it looks like you're looking at the space shuttle, in outer space. 3D takes that floating in space feeling to higher level; there's something to it you can't get out of a 2D movie, no matter the resolution.
Gravity is one of those films still awaiting a 4K re-release. But the new Dune is a thoroughly modern movie that's available in Ultra HD Blu-ray and in 3D. And this created an interesting comparison, because the 3D presentation was more compelling than the 2D HDR. Here's the unscripted notes I took while watching: "The 3D version of Dune is the definitive version of the movie, it's hard to properly visualize the world depicted on screen in two dimensions."
That's because the HDR is, as expected, not appreciably different than SDR. And when push comes to shove, with the X2000B, 3D beats out the extra pixels of 4K when it comes to showing you what the movie's world looks like. In my viewing notes, I saw I jotted down "3D may be 1080p HD, but it sure looks sharp, this projector is plenty bright enough and also 3D is perceptually color accurate."
You can use the different picture modes—all except for Gaming— to watch Blu-ray 3D content. The only requirement to having a good experience is you really must turn Sharpness down to 0, otherwise it looks artificially grainy. Overall, this is some of the best 3D playback I've seen at home, and that's surely thanks to a combination of sharpness, color accuracy, and high contrast. With this projector, you'll fall in love with 3D again—or appreciate it for the first time.
HDR Viewing. First things first, I confirmed the X2000B is processing and delivering 10-bit video. This is a key quality to any HDR video, and it ensures smooth gradations. With 10-bit video, even difficult to render subjects like fog and underwater scenes and blue skies are free of pesky banding artifacts.
Whether it's streaming HDR or a playing back a UHD Blu-ray, no UST is bright enough to reproduce HDR faithfully to how it is mastered for home viewing. For perspective, an OLED TV will hit 700+ nits of peak luminance, and LED-backlit TVs can get brighter still, easily exceeding the 1,000 nit-peak luminance used in most HDR mastering.
Even a high-performance 4K UST projector won't get far past one hundred calibrated nits on a typical 100-inch, 0.6-gain, lenticular, ambient light rejecting screen. In this case, the brightest spot on the screen measured 124 nits in Brightest mode and 108 nits in Movie mode. Granted, that brightness level is roughly the same as you'd target with a TV calibrated for SDR viewing under controlled lighting.
Although it is a cliché, with the right footage and under the right lighting conditions (i.e., darkness) the image put out by this projector looks like a giant window. When it comes to projectors and HDR, it is worth remembering that even Dolby Cinema commercial theaters max out at 108 nits peak. The point is that even though what you are watching is not true HDR, it has attributes that go beyond the DCI SDR commercial cinema standard, which calls for a mere 48-nit peak brightness.
My personal test for HDR handling in dark scenes has traditionally been the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two mountaintop scene with Voldemort and his army—found at the beginning of Chapter 12. Quite a few projectors I've tested struggle with this scene, but the ViewSonic pulls it off. I found the scene is a bit dark, the shadows don't reveal as much detail as I'd expect based on using a calibrated HDR TV as a point of reference, or that I have seen from the very best performing 4K USTs. Mind you, it'll never be apples to apples between a UST and a TV.
With the new Dune, I again found the handling of dark, low contrast scenes to be better than average, maintaining contrast and clean delineation at times when I've seen other USTs become a sea of muddy grays. In this movie, it's the ceremony with the giant worms near the end that impresses. You can see deep into the worm's mouth, and all its teeth, with the ViewSonic. Now, I did think it was scarier in 3D, but at least on this UST, the scene holds up in 4K HDR.
Based on subjective impressions (and in my humble opinion) regardless of the HDR picture mode you use, it is worth going into the picture mode settings and changing the HDR EOTF setting to High. This helps to lift the shadows a bit, and frankly, unless you have a 100% light-controlled home theater type environment with dark walls and ceiling, the High EOTF setting will likely serve you well all of the time. Somehow, the highlights in particular have just the right color tone to make sunlight, candlelight, neon light, or any other type of light look faithful to the real thing. But it's never going to be true HDR.
With the projector set to HDR Movie mode, I queued up the Spicy Pixels demo scenes from the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark Ultra HD Blu-ray. I set the disc to play the clips in HDR10 with 1,000 nits peak luminance, which is what I'd call "vanilla" HDR. The clips looked good! The most obvious qualities were associated with the projector's high contrast; the image exhibits good perceived depth.
As is the theme with this projector, the perceptually pleasing color makes scenes like sunsets look more realistic, if not intense. While deep shadows are arguably a bit too dense and swallow up some detail, the overall look is three-dimensional, detailed, and free of banding.
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I know from experience that these same test scenes can look more intense on projectors that have a wider color gamut. Compared side by side, those projectors would have a greater wow factor. But that knowledge does not detract from what this projector achieves with more modest means.
There are two ways to think about how this projector treats HDR content. On the one hand, it strips away anything that would be identifiably HDR, and it presents an image that is analogous to SDR. On the other hand, it does a rather good job at this task. By way of comparison, some other projectors with similar limitations have historically showed a tendency to look dark and washed out with HDR content.
In other scenes, one with a colorful frog and another that's a close-up of strawberries, I again knew that a Rec.2020-capable triple laser projector would offer deeper reds. But with the accuracy and overall quality and tonality of the ViewSonic in its Movie mode, these scenes look great.
HDR gaming on a console offers the benefit of display-specific setup. When you launch an HDR game for the first time, the console runs through a quick calibration routine to determine the capabilities of your display. I wish that streaming video players would do the same. This means you can use the Gaming picture mode and get a highly optimized picture. Still without wide gamut color, but running the routine results in better highlight and shadow handling, which is clearly visible in the calibration routine's before/after image.
I finally have a couple of new games to serve as visual references for evaluating displays with HDR gaming, as well as a whole new gaming system. I recently picked up a PlayStation 5 and the kit came with Horizon Forbidden West, which is a state-of-the-art visual experience in 4K/60p HDR. The most noticeable qualities of HDR gaming are how nice the colors look. Using Portrait Display's Calman software, I found HDR gaming mode had greater color accuracy than the SDR Gaming mode.
OK, also, I love cats. So, I'm a sucker and I bought a copy of Stray. Turns out I'm not a sucker at all, it is fun and a good-looking game. A lot of Stray takes place underground, in an abandoned city, and you need to do some exploring in dark spaces. The console-tuned Gaming mode's enhanced midtone and shadow brightness helped illuminate the scenes, but I did find I had to shut off all the room lights to appreciate the full fidelity due to the overall dark, film noir look of the game.
Also fun on the X2000B: One of my existing go-to reference titles, Forza Horizon 5, which I own for the Xbox Series X. It now has a Hot Wheels update (which I of course bought immediately). It brings fantastical, arcade style, gravity-defying racing to this already fun and visually striking game. I found the input lag did not prevent me from enjoying it; 40 milliseconds is just low enough where I still feel connected to the vehicle.
The paint jobs on the vehicles glisten, the virtual game world looks lush, detailed, and three-dimensional. The only hint that the projector has a color gamut limitation is with cars painted red. Since I know how crazily vivid that color can look on a triple-laser UST, it's apparent to me that the reds here are comparatively muted.
Audio. The built-in audio in this projector is suitably good for casual listening. It is branded Harman/Kardon and rated at 50 watts total power, which is divided into two channels, each comprised of a 10-watt tweeter and a 15-watt mid/bass driver. The system supports both Dolby Digital and DTS signals; the latter is usually missing on most projectors. It is more than loud enough to stand up on its own in a typical living room or even an event space. Like numerous UST projectors I've tested, it is roughly similar to an all-in-one entry level sound bar—sans subwoofer—in terms of capability. The lack of a dedicated subwoofer makes it difficult for the projector to create an appropriate level of impact when watching movies or playing video games, but it's completely fine for sports broadcasts and regular TV sound. As I noted earlier, you unfortunately cannot add a powered subwoofer to the built-in speakers with the existing audio line-level output.
Although the built-in sound is usable, for cinematic presentations and gaming, you want audio that is a proper match for the visuals, with more depth and dynamic range than the small speakers found in a projector can hope to deliver. That's why I recommend pairing this UST with an external audio system. If you go that route, you can utilize the ARC support found on the HDMI 2 port. I used my full-size audio system, comprised of a Denon AVR-X8500h and a 5.1.4 channel Atmos-capable speaker system, and it function as expected.
A major benefit of using an AV receiver is it provides more switchable HDMI inputs for the projector. I have a Chromecast with Google TV, an Apple TV 4K, an Amazon Fire Stick 4K Ultra, both gaming consoles, and a gaming PC connected to mine, six sources total. And yet it uses the same HDMI connection as the ARC signal, so just one HDMI cable does the trick.
Reviewing UST projectors recalls the famous quote from Forrest Gump about life being "like a box of chocolates" because, seriously, you don't know what you are going to get. This category is so new, with so many unproven players jumping in the game, that I never know what I'm going to find performance-wise from an unfamiliar UST. However, I know what I am looking for.
While it's not perfect, the ViewSonic X2000B has a lot of the qualities that make a good UST: High contrast, good color with the option to calibrate, 3D support, reasonably low input lag for gaming, and a fair price for the features it offers. With all that going for it, this one is highly recommended.
Brightness. The ViewSonic X2000B measured a maximum of 1,874 lumens with an SDR signal when in its SDR Brightest mode with the Light Source (power) Level at Full. It achieved the same level of brightness in the SDR Gaming mode, HDR Brightest and HDR Gaming modes. This projector is notable for meeting its ANSI specification with multiple picture modes that are all perfectly usable.
Going to the Standard power mode delivered 82% of the brightness at Full, while activating the ECO power mode delivered 67% of Full brightness.
ViewSonic X2000B ANSI Lumens
Brightness Uniformity: 80%
Fan Noise. In my room, which has a 33 dB noise floor when all appliances and fans are off, the fan noise is barely perceptible from the sofa that's about 11 feet away, but only as a faint whisper you'd have to explicitly listen for. ViewSonic lists a 32 dB spec with the light source power setting on Full. I measured around 36 dB of noise at 1 meter away from the front of the projector. In actual use, with the projector in my living room and HVAC plus appliances running, I never once noticed the projector's fan. Unless you put this UST in a silent, dedicated home theater, you won't hear it either.
Input Lag. This projector is good for casual gaming, but a little slow versus what serious gamers will find acceptable. In 4K/60 the input lag is 40.8 milliseconds and with 1080/60 input it's 37.2 milliseconds.
- AV in (3.5mm)
- HDMI 2.0 (x2, HDCP 1.4/2.2, one with ARC)
- USB 2.0 Type A (x2, 5V/1.5A)
- RJ45 Internet
- Audio out (3.5mm)
Calibrated image settings from any third-party do not account for the significant potential for sample-to-sample variation, nor the different screen sizes and materials, lighting, lamp usage, or other environmental factors that can affect image quality. Projectors should always be calibrated in the user's own space and tuned for the expected viewing conditions. However, the settings provided here may be a helpful starting point for some. Always record your current settings before making adjustments so you can return to them as desired. Refer to the Performance section for some context for each calibration.
Picture Mode: User
Color Temp (User)
Red Gain: 104
Green Gain: 76
Blue Gain: 46
Red Offset: 94
Green Offset: 99
Blue Offset: 99
For HDR, I recommend using the Movie mode in a dark space with the EOTF setting on Mid. I used the same custom Color Temp settings as above with HDR, they are equally effective.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our ViewSonic X2000B-4K projector page.