What is the Optoma UHD40?
The Optoma UHD40 DLP projector could be a dream come true for home theater fans who do not have many thousands of pounds to spare. Despite having a cost of only £ 1599, it aims to deliver 4K, high dynamic range images up to 300 inches wide. It's time to go in search of the catch …
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Optoma UHD40 – Design and construction
The UHD40 comes in a hard-working design. Its two-tone white finish is attractive enough, but the grilles and vents around the edges look a bit industrial. In addition, the opening at the top that provides access to the zoom and to the vertical wheels of makeover seems that it should be covered.
The general shape, meanwhile, is a dull rectangle with rounded corners. On the positive side, the unit is small enough to fit easily on a typical coffee table. It feels solid and heavy, insinuating some insides of decent quality. In addition, the control buttons on the top panel are attractively integrated and tactile to use.
The UHD40's remote control has an ergonomic shape and size, and the brightest button backlight you've ever seen. My only complaint is that some of the bells feel uncomfortably loose in their accommodations.
Optoma UHD40 – Features
The owner of the headlines here is clearly the ability of the UHD40 to deliver 4K HDR images for only £ 1599. Equally striking, however, is the claimed light output of the 2400 lumens projector and 500,000 contrast ratio: 1.
These are significantly higher than the figures given for their nearest rival, the BenQ W1700. In fact, they are significantly higher than the figures given for the vast majority of the most expensive 4K HDR projectors.
The brightness is particularly intriguing since most of the projectors simply are not bright enough to do a convincing job with HDR. The HDR playback of the UHD40, like most projectors, is limited to the HDR10 format. Unexpectedly, however, the projector carries a & # 39; simulator & # 39; HDR that uses processing to convert SDR images to something like HDR.
The connections on the back of the projector include two HDMI, a PC input / VGA component and a USB port with power for driving drive sticks. The installers will also be happy to detect an RS232 connector and a 12V activation port. It is a pity that only one of the HDMI is compatible with 4K HDR; the other only supports 4K.
Note that while the 4K / HDR HDMI can support 12: 4 4: 4 HDR at 24p, this is reduced to 8 bits 4: 2: 2 with 4K HDR content of 60Hz.  As you would expect from an "affordable" projector, the UHD40 has a built-in sound system. This offers 2 x 5 W of power in a stereo configuration, and is compatible with a 3.5 mm audio input / output. In addition, its built-in sound is much less ruined than normal due to the cooling noise. Even with the lamp set to maximum for HDR viewing, the projector works impressively quietly. Certainly, much quieter than the Vivitek HK2288, for example.
The color is classified according to the Rec 709 standard, instead of any other type of & # 39; HDR & # 39 ;. This will limit your potential to explore the wider color ranges that are found with most HDR sources. But the same is true for almost all other affordable projectors midway too.
One last point to cover here is that the UHD40 claims to be a 4K projector. The fact is that, in reality, it does not have a native 4K count of digital duplicate DLP devices. However, it combines the patented image processing of Texas Instruments with the ability of those mirrors to deliver multiple pixels per image pass to render a virtual 4K image.
Purists may resist this approach, but the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) of EE. UU the results & # 39; real & # 39; 4K
Optoma UHD40 – Configuration
The physical part of the UHD40 configuration is impressively simple. The simple legs screwed under each corner help you get the correct angle of your image. Zoom and focus are achieved through receptive rings around the lens.
There are even limited vertical changes, to try to avoid having to use the trapezoidal correction that distorts the image to straighten the edges of the image. The BenQ W1700 does not offer vertical image shift. The UHD40 also offers a touch more optical zoom than the W1700: 1.3x vs 1.2x.
UHD40's on-screen menus are a little intricate, but mostly without technical jargon. As with the recently revised Vivitek HK2288 projector, it's worth familiarizing yourself with these menus, as you'll probably want to review them regularly to adapt the image to different types of HDR content.
If you're watching a very aggressive HDR presentation, like Pan or Batman Vs Superman would suggest the detailed HDR preset. This decreases the brightness of the image to prevent brighter areas from being excessively bleached in details.
However, if you are watching a more typical and relatively smooth HDR presentation, I would stick with the standard HDR preset. This provides a baseline of brightness much higher than the HDR Detail setting, which gives the images a more consistent HDR feel.
Leaving the Dynamic Black Black on is essential for the HDR display, if you do not want the black levels to plummet. Also, a bit unusual, I found that the Gamma configuration needed to be 1.8 or 2.0 for HDR. Other settings tend to crush large amounts of shadow details. Avoid the HDR simulator; it crushes the blacks and makes the image seem more icteric.
Finally, I suggest you leave the Ultra Resolution image sharpener in its position & # 39; 1 & # 39; default If this last feature is deactivated, the image will soften noticeably, but leaving it on will not cause noise or exaggerated grain.
Optoma UHD40 – Performance
UHD40 images with native UHD sources really look 4K or very close to it. Certainly, there are much more details on display than those obtained with any HD projector or any other pseudo-4K technology. Including JVC 4K pseudo 4K e-Shift technology.
So rich in detail, texture and clarity are the images of the UHD40 that it is almost impossible to reconcile them with the £ 1599 price of the projector. The UHD40 offers these remarkable details without exaggerating the grain or causing edges with much stress.
There are not even indications that the single-chip DLP emits a buzz when showing fast camera pans or moving skin tones. Dark scenes, similarly, lack the green dots that are sometimes seen with single-chip DLP technology, despite the black-level challenges represented by HDR.
The only problem with the handling of details of the UHD40 is a slight shine over areas of particularly fine details. However, this appears very rarely. Most of the time, the sharpness is free of noise and nothing less than the game change for UHD40 money.
The UHD40 also manages to offer a higher brightness boost with HDR sources than you would have expected from such an affordable projector. The higher bright areas stand out in the image more intensely than with the SDR content.
The UHD40 also prevents the projector's tendency to make HDR images consistently darker than SDRs. This almost certainly means that it is not representing the full range of HDR images.
However, as I said in other reviews of HDR projectors, this is a commitment that I fully support. It makes your HDR images much more visible than those of the projectors that reduce the average brightness of the image in an attempt to offer more complete range of HDR luminance.
The balanced and bright HDR UHD40 approach also means that dark objects can appear against bright backgrounds without looking like empty silhouettes. Especially if you keep the Gamma setting in 1.8.
From the factory, the UHD40 is set by default as a preset value & # 39; HDR Bright & # 39; when HDR content is detected. However, although this certainly extends the difference between the brightness of the SDR and HDR content, it also creates a problem: discolored black levels. In fact, colors also tend to look watery, with the brightness so forced.
Standard HDR settings reduce brightness, but black levels are much better. In other words, you get a much better balance of the bright and dark extremes of HDR. Even if you do not get full HDR brightness.
The colors in standard HDR mode look good too. Although the projector can not get close to the BT2020 or DCI-P3 color ranges associated with 4K Blu-rays, the colors look natural and decently rich. In fact, perhaps due to the additional brightness, they also look a bit more intense than the SDR colors.
There is no color blockiness, streaks or spots with HDR colors, even over skin tones or skyscapes that commonly cause streaking problems with HDR televisions.
Whenever you avoid the HDR Bright setting, the UHD40 also suffers less & # 39; clipping & # 39; (loss of details in the brighter areas of the image) than I expected.
Crucially, switching between HDR Standard and HDR Detail settings to optimize performance with different HDR levels is beneficial, not has to do so. If you feel lazy, the standard configuration is still very visible with all the HDR content.
For much of my time with the UHD40 I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I was not dreaming of such a cheap projector so good. At that time, you know there is a & # 39; but & # 39; is coming, right?
The biggest problem is the black level response. Even if you avoid the Bright HDR setting, parts of the image that should be black appear to be routinely gray, especially when a shot combines very dark and light content. The DLP & # 39; 4K & # 39; projectors more expensive can generally better handle these difficult times. Models like the Vivitek HK2288, or the Optoma UHD60 itself and, especially, UHD65.
The similarly priced BenQ W1700, however, is similarly gray during dark scenes. In fact, in any case, the problem was less annoying in the UHD40. Maybe because the bright parts of your images look more shocking. It also helps that there are lots of shadow details in dark areas if you use the correct Gamma settings.
Unfortunately, shallow black levels also affect the standard dynamic range reproduction. And without SDR sources that have so much brightness to counteract milky blacks, the resulting image looks like something you'd expect to see in an HD projector of £ 800.
The extra brightness and the stretched colors & # 39; introduced by the HDR simulation of the UHD40 the image mode at least masks the black level problems a bit. But only at the expense of some details of flattened shadows, jaundiced skin tones and "trimmed" glitter reflections. As a result of all this, I would say that it is only worth getting a UHD40 if you can feed it with a 4K HDR diet.
I also detected a small "rainbow effect": stripes of pure red, green and blue on bright objects highlighted. Especially with HDR. However, this only appears in the UHD40 during the most extreme contrast content. It is far from being a constant concern.
It's worth noting that the UHD40 can not offer you the same kind of HDR experience you would get from a TV. However, it can make HDR images look more intense and bright. Which is an achievement in itself in a 4K projector of £ 1599.
If you have a 4K gaming console or a PC, you'll be happy to know that the Optoma UHD40 only suffers 36 ms of entry delay on average when using its Game scheduled. My tests occasionally recorded atypical values of 65 ms, but this was compensated by a practically equal amount of results of 12 ms, being 34 ms the figure registered with greater frequency.
Finally, the configuration of the 2 x 5 speakers is acceptable as a sound system of last resort. It throws its sound at a reasonable distance beyond the body of the projector, and is reasonably detailed and clear. It is also practical, as noted above, surprisingly there is little interference from the cooling fans. But he has neither the bass nor the presence to sound like a convincing partner for the huge images he can produce. And the sound inevitably appears dislocated from the action on the screen.
Why buy an Optoma UHD40?
As long as you are well configured with the 4K sources you need to unlock your powers, the Optoma UHD40 is a great offer. Their 4K images leave the high definition as dead and, surprisingly, it is also quite decent with HDR.
You can get better black levels if you go north of £ 2000 on models like the Vivitek HK2288 or the Optoma UHD60 and UHD65 itself. . But in terms of its characteristics and some key aspects of its performance, the UHD40 is ahead of its only truly direct rival, the BenQ W1700.
By providing incredibly detailed images and a pleasing touch of HDR for only £ 1599, the Optoma UHD40 feels like another key moment in the quest for 4K world domination.