Optoma UHD65 Projector review

A great all-round projector that impresses with super-sized 4K and HD alike

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Our Verdict

With highly detailed and reliably cinematic images, the Optoma UHD65 4K projector is easy to set up and adept with all sources. It lacks wow factor in some aspects, but successfully combines high brightness with home cinema horsepower.

For

  • Bright yet quiet
  • Highly detailed 4K
  • Clean upscaling
  • Built-in speaker
  • No rainbow effect

Against

  • Only vertical lens shift
  • No motorised focus/zoom
  • Not as bright as expected
  • Basic user interface

Despite 4K resolution rapidly becoming a default feature of TVs despite a paucity of 4K broadcasts, the same is not true of projectors for the home. 

In fact, Sony's SXRD projectors like the VPL-VW300ES are still the only native 4K projectors for the home. That’s still the case, because this $2,499 (£2,999, AU$4,950) 4K beamer from Optoma – hot on the heels of the Optoma UHD60 – uses a pixel shifting technique called eXpanded Pixel Resolution (XPR) to create a 4K image. 

'Faux’ 4K? Perhaps technically, but that makes little difference in practice on this impressive single-chip DLP projector.

Design

Measuring in at 498 x 331 x 141mm (19.6 x 13 x 6 inch) and 7.8kg, the UHD65 is something of a beast. The lens is front and centre on this gloss black and round-edged projector, with an air vent on the side. 

On the reverse are a couple of HDMI slots, one of them rated HDCP 2.2-compliant, which guarantees that 4K intake. Also back there is a VGA input for connecting a PC, an optical audio S/PDIF output, analogue audio jacks, and a 12V jack for integrating the UHD65 into a home cinema control system.

Rather disappointingly, the USB slot nearby doesn’t support 4K video files stored on a USB thumb-drive or hard disk. However, it does accept dongles like Chromecast

That’s just as well, because the UHD65’s user interface is a bare bones affair, with zero apps or even a modern OS; expect just basic and thoroughly old fashioned – if perfectly functional – on-screen menus. 

Setup

The UHD65 is very simple to set-up. That’s partly down to its lens shift feature, which permits easy aligning to a screen. Oddly, this top trick is hidden from view under a rather awkward plastic hood that stretches the length of the projector - it’s unnecessarily hard to access. It also allows only vertical lens shift. 

Though most projectors have no lens shift, the UDH65 should really have a motorised system for zoom, focus and lens shift. However, it's easy enough to manually aim the UHD65; its throw ratio is 2.22:1 and there's a simple image shift system, a digital zoom, and a test pattern grid so you know you're geometry is OK. 

If you're using a wall, you can change the tint of the projection to blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink and grey, to compensate - and hopefully come as close as you can to matching - the color of your wall. 

Performance

The UHD65 is bright, yet quiet. In practice its claimed 2,200 lumens isn't as bright as we had hoped, but the UHD65 can be used in the daytime, though only with the curtains half-open. Its 4W speakers impress on volume, but they can't be used on a very quiet setting. They're also rather muffly and of obvious very basic quality.

The UHD65 has a plethora of picture presets; Cinema, HDR, Vivid, Game, Reference, Bright and a user-defined setting. Bright appeared to give a slight blue tint, but was the most effective setting for watching a sports event amid significant ambient light.

Everything we watched on the UHD65 was highly detailed. At no point is the pixel grid visible even when blown-up to 100-inches. That was as true with a blast of 2160p from Netflix and YouTube as it was with upscaled HD TV channels, which all looked very clean.

Still, DLP projectors usually succeed or fail on three picture parameters; black levels, shadow detail, and rainbow effect (when the rotating color wheel leaves flashing rainbows in some people's eyes). The UHD65 had no significant rainbow effect, which was surprisingly considering it has a single-chip RGBRGB colour wheel.

However, in a blackout the UHD65 doesn’t offer class-leading black levels or shadow detail. A couple of settings inside the UHD65's PureEngine suite of picture tweaks – PureContrast and PureColour – don't appear to make much difference, and nor does Dynamic Black have much of an effect. 

There's also a slight lack of wow factor when it comes to HDR material (even on the HDR setting), while the SDR to HDR converter is definitely worth a swerve (it creates so much clarity the result looks rather stark, also over saturating colour). Will anyone but the most fussy of home cinema aficionados be concerned about, or even notice these tiny shortcomings? Almost certainly they won't.

The UHD65 is always enjoyable to watch, and its detail is exceptional (its UltraDetail setting proved largely superfluous), though its PureMotion features are generally ineffective. This frame interpolation 'de-judder' feature inserts frames to create a more fluid, video-like look. I'm convinced that big projectors like the UHD65 are used as much for sports events as they are for movies, which features like PureMotion are ideal for. However, it proved a largely blunt instrument that doesn't dramatically improve motion smoothness even on its full-power setting.

Verdict

The UHD65 is a hugely enjoyable projector that manages to deliver very good images in both ambient light and blackout conditions. Most projectors commit to one or the other, halving their versatility. 

Though the UHD65 sacrifices both ultra-high brightness for daytime viewing and completely convincing black levels in a blackout, it's actually giving as close the 'best of both worlds' as any projector could: From upscaled HD TV channels and DVDs to Netflix 4K and a Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, few users will have complaints about the cleanness, detail or colour of the UHD65's images.

However, we did miss a few luxury touches that a projector this price should include. The remote control is the same as you’d find on a projector a sixth of the price (and includes some button that have no function), and there’s no motorised zoom, focus and lens shift. All of these would've added a more polished, professional feel, which high-priced products like the UHD65 should always offer; it shouldn’t just be about new technology.

That being said, despite some small reservations for home cinema users, those that want a projector that gets the best from 4K sport and HD TV channels, and particularly for this summer's World Cup (it upscales really well if you cannot get native 4K broadcasts) will find the UHD65 to be just the ticket.