Optoma 4K projector responds to Alexa voice commands
The UHD51A is the first Alexa-controlled projector, and I take it for a spin with my voice at CES 2018.
David KatzmaierEditorial 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.
ExpertiseA 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
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If you want to fire up your 120-inch screen with a voice command like "Alexa, turn on the projector," Optoma's newest effort is at your beck and call.
When it goes on sale in April for $1,700 (roughly converting to £1,240 in the UK and AU$2,150 in Australia), the UHD51A will be the first projector to feature direct compatibility with Amazon Alexa, from an Echo or Dot speaker for example.
It uses Alexa's home entertainment API to enable voice control. Install Optoma's Alexa skill, which will be available by the time the projectors launch, and the UHD51A will respond to following direct commands:
"Raise/lower volume to 7" [or another value. "Mute" is also supported]
Watch this: Talk to the projector: Optoma gets Alexa support
I tried it in Optoma's suite at CES 2018 and it worked well, if not flawlessly. I really liked being able to issue the commands without having to include any extra trigger words like "Ask Optoma to..."; the phrases above worked pretty much verbatim. They did fail occasionally, but Optoma's rep said he expects the software bugs to be worked out by launch.
Using it reminded me of my time with the Alexa integration on a Sony TV, and I find it particularly useful for those times when the remote goes missing.
You can also adjust more esoteric settings including picture modes (from Dynamic to Movie for example) and how much
Soap Opera Effect
to apply. Currently the phrasing there is a bit clunky, and you'll have to use the trigger word.
Optoma's demo also included Alexa-controlled lights and even a sweet motorized screen that could raise and descend at a voice command. Even better, the company says you'll be able to link all of them together using Alexa's new routines feature.
Utter a phrase like "Alexa,
and chill" and your screen would lower, the lights would dim, the projector would fire up, the popcorn maker would spin into action and your Harmony-controlled Roku would launch Netflix. At least, that's how it happens in my imagination. Fingers crossed.
Beyond the voice stuff the UHD51A has the following projector features.
4K resolution DLP chip
New RGBRGB color wheel
HDR compatibility, wide color gamut
1.3x zoom, vertical lens shift
Wi-Fi or Ethernet connectivity
More Optoma projectors coming soon
Optoma makes our favorite inexpensive 1080p projector, the $535
, which it says will be replaced with a new version in the second half of 2018. It didn't have any details on the replacement, but company reps did show me four other new products.
UHD50: This is basically the same 4K projector but without Alexa. Its $1,500 price (roughly £1,090 and AU$1,900) matches that of the recently announced BenQ HT2250, making them the least expensive 4K projectors I've seen. Both use the same new
4K DLP chip, which supposedly delivers full 4K resolution despite not having every pixel be represented by a discrete micro-mirror. I can't wait to check it out.
Ultra-short throw 4K laser: It doesn't yet have an official model name, but Optoma says it will release its first laser UST projector in the second quarter with "a target price of $5,000." That's more expensive than the Epson LS1000 at $3,000 (roughly £2,190 and AU$3,795), but that projector is only 1080p resolution. Ultra-short-throw tech enables a projector to throw up a big image from very close -- Optoma claims a 100-inch image from 8 inches away -- and it's great to see less-expensive versions than, say, those sold by Hisense and Sony. The version I saw was a mute mockup, but Optoma says the shipping model will get built-in speakers.
LH150: This $900 (roughly £655 and AU$1,140) portable 1080p mini-projector has 1,300 lumens, integrated speakers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and comes out in the second quarter of 2018. An optional battery pack, good for at least two hours, will be available, and Optoma says it's working on tweaks to Eco mode to make it last longer.
LED pocket projector: For $280 (roughly £200 and AU$350), this pipsqueak makes portable projection even more affordable. It includes a built-in battery good for 2 hours in Eco mode. Like most of its competition in this category, its LED light source is relatively dim (300 lumens) and its resolution low (854x480) but at least it's cheap. I was shown a concept design, and Optoma will ship the real one in Q2.