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Optoma UHD35 Review

Optoma UHD35 Review

A step above entry level for a 4K home entertainment projector, the Optoma UHD35 still qualifies as relatively inexpensive for its 4K (3,840-by-2,160) resolution; despite its list price of $1,899, it can often be found for closer to $1,300. Some less-expensive 1080p models, including the Epson Home Cinema 2250, have more features, notably frame interpolation to smooth motion and better optical zoom. However, the UHD35 delivers low input lag for gamers, it supports both HDR10 and HLG HDR, and it has the advantage of 4K resolution for bringing out fine detail.

Designed for the Family Room
As is typical for 4K DLP projectors, the lamp-based UHD35 takes advantage of TI's XPR fast-switching pixel shifting to produce 3,840 by 2,160 pixels on screen, using a 1080p chip. Unlike many, it offers an eight-segment, red-green-blue-white-red-green-blue-white (RGBWRGBW) color wheel. The white panels are standard for DLP projectors meant for use in ambient light, because they boost brightness. They also tend to hurt color accuracy, but the UHD35 manages to deliver very good color nonetheless.

Using two full sets of the RGBW sequence instead of one has the same effect as doubling the rotation speed of the wheel. It lets the projector light up each color for half as much time during each sequence to minimize rainbow artifacts, making them less like to see and more fleeting when they show. I saw only a few in my tests, and they went by so quickly that if you don't see them easily, you may not notice any. As with any single-chip projector, however, if you're concerned that you might find rainbow flashes bothersome, be sure to buy from a dealer who allows easy returns.

From above, showing lens and vents on front and right side
The UHD35 is easy to handle, at only 8.6 pounds and 4.6 by 12.4 by 10.6 inches (HWD). It offers two HDMI 2.0 ports along with a USB Type-A port suitable for powering an HDMI streaming stick. Basic physical setup consists of little more than positioning the projector, connecting a video source, and adjusting the manual zoom and focus. Videophiles who want to calibrate the projector for the most accurate color possible can adjust hue, saturation, and brightness for each primary and secondary color (red, green, blue, cyan, yellow, and magenta) and also adjust grayscale. However, most people should be happy with the default settings.

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As already mentioned, gamers will appreciate the low input lag. With Enhanced Gaming mode on, I measured the lag with my Bodnar meter at 17ms for 1080p, 60Hz input and 16.9ms for 3,840-by-2,160 input, just two to three tenths of a millisecond higher than Optoma's ratings. For PC gaming, the projector can support up to 240Hz refresh rates at 1080p, which promises smoother motion and drops the rated input lag to 4.2ms.

Rear view, showing ports
The UHD35 also earns points for its robust audio system. If you want to bring your projector to a friend's house for gaming with immersive sound, or set it up for a backyard movie night, you won't have to lug a separate sound system with them. The 10-watt mono speaker delivers high enough volume to easily fill a mid-to-large size family room with good enough quality to be highly usable. If you want stereo or higher quality, you can connect an external sound system to the 3.5mm or S/PDIF outputs.

Stands Up to Light, Looks Good in the Dark
The UHD35 is designed to throw a big picture that can stand up to ambient light, and it handled that task easily in my tests, with suitable brightness, color accuracy, and contrast. It also delivered good enough black level and shadow detail for viewing with the lights off. The picture quality isn't perfect, but it's fine for most purposes.

Full size remote
For 1080p SDR input, the UHD35 has five predefined color modes. The brightest mode, Bright, turned faces green in some of my test clips; it's best avoided. Most people should find the any of the other modes more than acceptable, but none offers truly excellent color accuracy or a dark enough black level to deliver all the shadow detail and potential visual impact in dramatically dark scenes. Game mode had the best shadow detail and was tied with HDR SIM for second-best color accuracy, making it my preferred choice. However, Reference, which offered the best color accuracy but poor shadow detail, is a tempting alternative, if it's bright enough for your screen size and level of ambient light.


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