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

Sure the Optoma UHD60 projector looks slightly sharper with 4K, but superb contrast is its real strength.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
7 min read

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.


Optoma UHD60

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.

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

4K and 1080p image quality comparisons

So much for test patterns; in real-world viewing the Optoma looked just as sharp as the BenQ, if not sharper, and delivered the best overall image.

Its advantage had almost nothing to do with its 4K resolution. It looked best because it put better contrast -- the dark blacks and the bright whites -- on screen. The non-4K Epson was very close, beating the Optoma's color and HDR performance, but its HDR still wasn't a big improvement over non-HDR material.

Since it's the only 3,000-lumen projector in my comparison I wasn't surprised that the Optoma beat all of the others at light output. In its brightest picture mode, cleverly dubbed "Bright," it measured 335 nits, the equivalent of 3,212 lumens when you remove my screen from the equation (thanks to Chris Heinonen for the lumens calculator). That mode is exceedingly green to the point of being unwatchable, but the TV Vivid mode has much more accurate color and still the brightest (192 nits) of the four projector's bright/accurate modes (the Epson was a very close second however at 175 nits in Bright Cinema).

First up for actual movie-watching was a classic dark-room torture test courtesy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" on standard 1080p Blu-ray. In each projector's best dark room default settings (Cinema on the Optoma) the Optoma looked better than the Epson. The Epson could get a bit darker in some scenes, thanks in particular its dynamic iris, but highlights -- for example the face of Voldemort as he looks over Hogwarts, were significantly dimmer than on the Optoma, robbing the image of pop in comparison. The Optoma and BenQ HT2550 were similar in black levels, but again the Optoma had the advantage in contrast with its brighter highlights.

Increasing the Epson's light output to match the Optoma's by engaging Epson's Bright Cinema mode made the two look very similar in these extremely dark scenes. In more mixed scenes, however, the Optoma looked better. When Harry faces the Slytherin boys in Chapter 15, for example, the Epson looked more washed out, with lighter black levels, while the Optoma maintained its pop.

Next I checked out the 4K Blu-ray "Murder on the Orient Express," disabling HDR on my Oppo player for now (see below). As I saw in my earlier comparison in the BenQ review, the impact of 4K resolution was quite subtle, but visible in certain scenes. When Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) stands before the wall in Chapter 2, for example, the fine details in his tie and suit looked a tad sharper on the Optoma than on the others, even the more-4K-capable (according to those test patterns) BenQ. As on my previous tests, I suspect the perceptual difference might have to do with the Optoma's superior contrast.

In terms of default color accuracy, the Epson was the best of the bunch, striking a nice balance between the somewhat oversaturated-looking Optoma and the more dull BenQ. In the kitchen scene at the beginning of Chapter 4, for example, the green vegetables and yellow lemon looked the most natural on the Epson. The Optoma accentuated colors a bit too much, and even after calibration it lacked the accuracy of the Epson and BenQ. It was still very good, however, and its less-accurate color wouldn't take away from its overall impressive image.

Video processing was similar to the BenQ HT2550, mediocre, with worse motion resolution than the Epson and and too much judder on film-based 1080p and 1080i sources. Input lag was the worst of the three at 50ms, where again the Epson was the best.

HDR tip: Don't use it

Just like the BenQ, the Optoma actually looked worse with HDR turned on. Watching "Murder," for example, the image looked washed out and exceedingly green, and highlights were flat and lifeless. The BenQ's HDR was marginally better but still worse than standard dynamic range. The Epson, meanwhile, looked much better, and while it didn't deliver nearly the improvement of an HDR TV, at least it wasn't worse.

This impression of program material was backed up by my measurements, where both the Optoma and BenQ strayed well short of the target EOTF, and all three showed major color errors and fell well short of the P3 gamut (see the Geek Box and HDR notes for more). In the case of the BenQ and Optoma I greatly preferred their rendition of material in standard dynamic range (SDR), not HDR.

I recommend you skip HDR with this projector, but some source devices won't let you separate 4K and HDR. The Oppo UDB-403 Blu-ray player, Roku and Apple TV 4K do, for example, but Amazon Fire TV and some other Blu-ray players , like the Samsung UBD-K8500 , do not. Unfortunately, on devices that don't, if you want to watch 4K you'll also be watching HDR.

Geek Box

Test ResultScore
Black luminance (0%) 0.105Good
Peak white luminance (100%) 335Good
Derived lumens 3212Good
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.2Average
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 3.253Average
Dark gray error (20%) 0.57Good
Bright gray error (70%) 6.054Average
Avg. color error 1.932Good
Red error 2.304Good
Green error 3.638Average
Blue error 2.278Good
Cyan error 1.187Good
Magenta error 0.933Good
Yellow error 1.254Good
Avg. saturations error 4.33Average
Avg. color checker error 4.28Average
Percent gamut (Rec 709) 92Average
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) FailPoor
Motion resolution (max) 300Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 300Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 50.47Average

HDR default

Black luminance 0.130Good
Peak white luminance (10% win) 188Average
Gamut % DCI/P3 (CIE 1976) 79Poor
Avg. saturations error 14.5Poor
Avg. color checker error 8.7Poor

Optoma UHD60

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 9Performance 9Value 7