Optoma UHD60 review: 4K is just a tiny part of the huge, excellent picture

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The Good The Optoma UHD60 is inexpensive for a 4K projector and can deliver an image that's slightly sharper than non-4K projectors. It has great contrast and a brighter image than many competitors.

The Bad The sharpness benefits of 4K are tough to see, even on a huge screen. Poor HDR image quality.

The Bottom Line The Optoma UHD60 is an affordable 4K projector that delivers superb image quality overall.

8.1 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7

Resolution schmezolution. After reviewing a handful of 4K-capable projectors, I can once again tell you not to expect much improvement from all those extra pixels, even when you're talking about a huge, 120-inch screen.

On the other hand, the Optoma UHD60, one of the first 4K projectors that's actually affordable, is an excellent performer. It showed superb contrast with great pop, beating the BenQ HT2550 and edging out the Epson HC4000 -- the latter a 1080p projector -- for overall picture quality.

Between the Optoma and Epson, it's very close and depends on what and how you watch. The brighter Optoma is better at filling larger screens and in situations with more ambient light, but also has more contrast and pop in a dark room, as well as the advantage of a slightly sharper image with 4K sources. The Epson, meanwhile, has better features including a power lens, somewhat more accurate color and a better image with HDR TV shows and movies.

Overall, if you still want the extra bit of sharpness afforded by 4K, the Optoma is a great choice and worth the extra cost over the BenQ HT2550.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Basic specs

  • Native resolution: 4K
  • Discrete pixels on chip: 2,716x1,528
  • HDR-compatible: Yes
  • Lumens spec: 3,000
  • Zoom: Manual (1.6x)
  • Lens shift: Vertical
  • 3D-compatible: No
  • Lamp life (Bright mode): 4,000 hours

For the UHD60, Optoma uses the larger of Texas Instruments' two new 4K DLP chips, the 0.66-inch version with 2,716x1,528 mirrors. TI says the chip can achieve full 4K resolution, with over 8.3 million pixels on screen, by moving those mirrors really fast. Here's a bit more on how it works.

The UHD60 is brighter than the Epson and BenQ I compared it to in this review, with a 3,000-lumens spec. That allows it to better fill larger screens and compete against ambient light. Optoma also sells the less-expensive 4K resolution UHD50, which uses the smaller 0.47-inch chip and has 2,400 lumens.

The UHD60 sits between the Epson and BenQ in terms of lens options and installation flexibility. It bests the BenQ by offering lens shift and a longer zoom, but can't match the Epson's power zoom and focus and dual lens shift. The Optoma also lacks 3D capability.

Lamp life is decent, and as usual you can adjust the settings to dim the image and extend the number of hours (up to 15,000 according to Optoma) before you have to replace it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity and convenience

  • HDMI inputs: 2
  • PC input: Analog RGB
  • USB ports: 2
  • Audio input and output: Minijack
  • Digital audio output: Yes
  • LAN port: Yes
  • 12v trigger: Yes
  • RS-232 remote port: Yes
  • MHL: Yes
  • Remote: Backlit

Of the two HDMI jacks only one, HDMI 2, is fully 4K/60Hz compatible, with both HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support. HDMI 1 supports version 1.4 of both specs. The MHL support and a few other extras, like optical digital out, give it a leg up on the BenQ and Epson.

The remote is the worst of the three, however, and my least-favorite thing about it is the brightness of the backlighting; it's truly blinding, especially in a dark room. Its ergonimics and design are also a step down from Epson and BenQ.

Sarah Tew/CNET

4K resolution tests

I put the UHD60 through the same 4K resolution test patterns as the BenQ HT2550. The HT2550 performed better,  delivering every line in the patterns, but the Optoma (and the Epson) did not. 

The Optoma showed thicker, unstable lines, an indication that it wasn't matching the incoming 4K source perfectly. By that measure it fails TI's claim that all 8.3 million pixels of 4K are visible on-screen. I suspect the difference in the two DLP chips is the reason -- the BenQ's chip has 1,920x1,080 discrete pixels multiplied four times (which matches the 3,840x2,160 of 4K exactly), while the Optoma uses a chip with 2,716x1,528 pixels multiplied twice (which doesn't). Meanwhile, the Epson didn't show any detail in the patterns, which I didn't expect since the company doesn't claim true 4K resolution, just "4K enhancement."

I tested the projectors at three 4K refresh rates: 24, 30 and 60Hz, and as with the BenQ, the lines were darker and clearer with 60Hz on the Optoma. In other words, expect 4K/60 to look better (sharper) on this projector, which isn't the case with TVs; on TVs these patterns look equally sharp regardless of incoming refresh rate.

Another discrepancy between the TVs and the projectors is that none of the 4K projectors I looked at, including the Sony VPL-VW350ES, could pass the more difficult 4K checkerboard pattern, which alternated black and white with every adjacent pixel. 4K TVs can pass this pattern, too.

It's worth mentioning that, to see the BenQ's distinct lines, I had to be very close. I could stand no farther back than about 5.5 feet from my 120-inch screen before the lines, even the 60Hz ones, became indistinguishable. That means you'll need to sit that close to get the full benefit of 4K -- and that's way too close. Of course you can still get some benefit by sitting farther away, for example the much more comfortable 11 feet I used for most viewing (see below). But as always, the impact of extra resolution diminishes with seating distance.

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