For the absolute best picture you should always pair a home theater projector with a reflective white screen, but how many actually do that? For those of us too lazy to go the extra mile, Optoma’s new UHZ50 4K laser projector includes presets that automatically compensate for the color of a painted wall.
Projectors have long been the only real solution for bringing the big screen experience of a movie theater home, unless you’re willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a wall-sized TV. Projectors have gotten cheaper, but still cost a couple thousand dollars for a decent 4K solution. In the past few years, we’ve seen companies create projectors that are all-in-one solutions, packing decent speakers and running operating systems like Google TV that provide access to all the popular streaming services right out of the box. Epson even includes a screen with its short-throw projectors to ensure the optimal viewing experience—but how many consumers are willing to go to the extra trouble of installing one on a wall?
Simply pointing a projector at a blank wall is the easiest way to set it up, but, if painted to match the room’s decor, the color of the wall can slightly tint the image from the projector as it bounces back to your eyes. Most users won’t notice the subtle color shift or even care that it’s happening, but for users who do care (but not enough to hang a proper screen), Optoma’s UHZ50 can help.
Along with a $2,799 price tag (which makes it more than $1,000 more expensive than other 4K projectors like the XGIMI Horizon Pro), the Optoma UHZ50 boasts resolutions of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels with 3,000 lumens of brightness that enable projected images over 300 inches in size—although you’ll need a huge room that’s completely dark for that to happen. More realistically you should be able to project a decent 10-foot image even in brighter daylight conditions.
For gamers, the Optoma UHZ50 offers 16.7ms response times at 4K resolutions refreshing at 60Hz, but dropping down to 1080p sees the refresh rate climb to 240Hz while response times drop to just 4ms. A pair of 10-watt speakers should provide enough sound to fill a small room, but depending on where the projector is mounted or placed, an external set of speakers might be a better option so those sitting nearest the speaker aren’t blasted with sound. And while the UHZ50 does run on a customized version of Android, Google Play isn’t supported, so you may not have native access to every last streaming service. With three HDMI ports, however, you can sacrifice one to a streaming dongle like the Chromecast to give you access to all the apps you need.
The projector’s best features are for those who go screen-less. For starters, there’s a Wall Color setting that ensures the projector is using the most accurate color gamut by allowing users to specify one of six different options that best matches the colored surface they’re projecting onto: blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink, and gray. (What, no tan or beige option?) To compensate for the subtle imperfections of drywall (a dedicated screen is usually stretched taut so it’s perfectly smooth) the UHZ50 also offers an advanced geometric correction tool with a dense grid of points that can be individually adjusted to create a perfectly rectangular image.