Optoma UHD55 review | PCMag

Designed for both gaming and home entertainment, the Optoma UHD55 ($1,799) projector delivers 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), impressive color quality, and the short input lag that gamers require. The competing BenQ TK700STi has a few extra features, including fully integrated Android TV. But the UHD55 wins on the core issue of image quality. While it falls just short of being an Editors’ Choice, that’s enough to earn it the higher rating of the two.


How long of an offset measurement do you need?

The UHD55’s input lag, measured with a Bodnar meter, was 16.9 milliseconds for 60Hz input at 4K and 1080p resolutions. This results in a faster 4K response than most projectors can handle, putting it within the range a serious gamer would consider acceptable. Even better, lag was reduced by about half, to 8.6ms, for 1080p/120Hz input. Note that for all three metrics, the UHD55 was essentially on par with the TK700STi. The results are also consistent with both projectors’ ratings of 4.2ms for 1080p/240Hz input, which more serious gamers might want to take advantage of.

As is the case with 4K DLP models, the UHD55 is built around a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel DLP chip that uses TI’s fast-switching pixel shift to generate 3,840 x 2,160 pixels on the screen. Many newer projectors use lasers or LEDs as light sources, but the UHD55 takes a more traditional approach. It uses a lamp paired with an eight-segment color wheel that offers two sets of red, green, blue, and white panels. White segments are common in DLP projectors designed for rooms with ambient light because they increase brightness. They can also hurt color accuracy, but Optoma has done a good job of countering this tendency. They’re only displayed in the brightest mode, and even then they’re less obvious than usual.

Rear panel, showing Optoma UHD55 projector ports

(Credit: Optoma)

At 8.6 pounds and 4.7 x 12.4 x 10.6 inches (HWD), the UHD55 is a little heavier than the TK700STi, but light enough to take with you for gaming on the go. The physical setup is simple. A 1.3x zoom and slight vertical lens shift (5% of image height up or down from center position) adds welcome flexibility as to where you can place the projector and avoid using digital keystone correction.

There are two HDMI ports, but only one supports short input lag, so you need to make sure you connect your gaming source to the correct port. There’s also an Ethernet port and built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the internet to enable the projector’s smart features. In addition to voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, the UHD55 also offers Optoma’s InfoWall software. InfoWall lets you put together a set of tiles to display various information, including weather reports, your calendar, and news. Voice control and InfoWall use Optoma’s online servers. Unfortunately, the servers were undergoing updates during my testing, so the smart features didn’t work as promised. Optoma says the updates should be complete at the time of publication.

Front, right side and top including Optoma UHD55 projector focus, zoom and lens shift controls

(Credit: Optoma)

The projector also offers streaming apps from the Optoma Marketplace. I counted a total of 18 applications; however, only 10 of them were for video streaming. The good news is that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are included. Other popular commodities, like Hulu and YouTube, are not. You can always plug a streaming dongle into one of the HDMI ports, of course. A final smart feature is support for IFTTT (If This Then That) applets, which can do things like automatically mute the projector when someone rings your smart doorbell.

The built-in 10-watt bedroom speaker delivers usable sound quality at a volume high enough to fill a large family room. For connection to an external audio system, there is a 3.5mm analog stereo output and an S/PDIF digital output.


High level HDR picture quality

The UHD55 delivers high dynamic range (HDR) color, with support for both HDR10 and HLG HDR. There are 10 preset color modes plus three ISF modes (day, night, and 3D) if you want to pay someone to do a full calibration of your room and screen. Six of the 10 preset modes are for SDR input, two for HDR10 and two for HLG HDR.

After some preliminary tests, I chose Cinema mode for watching SDR movies and videos. Game mode offered better shadow detail, but it brightened dark scenes more than they should have. It’s good for quickly spotting objects in the shadows in games, but not good for movies, where it can dull the visual impact. Note that the bright (brightest) mode wasn’t as green shifted as many projectors’ brightest modes, making it at least tolerable if you need the projector’s maximum brightness during a particularly sunny afternoon in a family room, for example.

The Optoma UHD55 projector remote control

(Credit: Optoma)

For 1080p SDR movies and video, Cinema mode offered class-leading color accuracy for the price class and good contrast in dark and brightly lit scenes, using a 90-inch 1.0-gain screen. In a darkened room, shadow detail, contrast and a sense of three-dimensionality combined to provide appropriately dramatic visual impact. The image was also bright enough to stand up well in a family room at night with lights on.

For my 4K HDR tests, the UHD55 provided a noticeable improvement in image quality, which is not true for all projectors that support HDR. I chose the HDR mode for my tests rather than the WCG_HDR setting. (WCG is short for wide color gamut. There are two equivalent choices for HLG.) I also enabled frame interpolation (FI). The feature smooths out motion, but it also tends to make material shot at 1080p look like live video. With 4K HDR, on the other hand, it can add a greater sense of contrast and three-dimensionality, as it did with UHD55, without the digital video effect. In viewing tests, 4K versions of discs for the same movies I watched in 1080p SDR delivered more saturated and accurate colors, and shadow detail was better enough to give objects in dark scenes a much more three-dimensional look.

Top view, showing the control panel near the rear and the lens shift and zoom controls in front of the Optoma UHD55 projector

(Credit: Optoma)

The UHD55 also supports Full HD 3D using DLP-Link glasses. Compared to most current projectors, 3D-related motion artifacts were a little more obvious than usual, but I didn’t see any crosstalk.

As with most Optoma models, the UHD55 also held up well against rainbow artifacts (red-green-blue flashes). Although I see them easily, I encountered almost none when using 1080p input. They showed a little more frequently with a 4K input, but still not as often as with most DLP projectors. As always, though, if you’re worried about seeing these artifacts, buy from a retailer that allows easy returns, so you can test it out for yourself.

Front and top of Optoma UHD55 projector

(Credit: Optoma)

Based on recommendations from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the 3,600 ANSI lumens rating for UHD55 would be bright enough for a 275-inch-diagonal 16:9 display, 1.0 gain in a dark room. In my tests using Cinema mode at low light, it was easily bright enough to illuminate my 90-inch 1.0-gain display enough to watch even in moderate ambient light. It was also quite watchable, if a little washed out, on an 80-inch 1.0-gain screen in a family room with lots of windows on a bright afternoon.


Good for games, just as good for movies

If you prefer to shop at a lower price range, you might want to consider 1080p projectors including the Optoma GT1080HDR and BenQ X1300i. But if you’re looking for a 4K projector for gaming, home entertainment, or both, the Optoma UHD55 is a strong contender, along with the BenQ TK700STi.

For serious gamers, the BenQ projector offers several game modes that quickly and easily optimize video and audio settings for different types of games. For some players, that might be enough to give him the edge. For watching videos and movies, on the other hand, both projectors delivered class-leading image quality for 1080p SDR, but the UHD55 did a better job for 4K HDR. The UHD55 also shows less rainbow artifacts, which is a big plus for those who find them distracting. If you want 4K resolution for gaming and home entertainment, both are worth a look, but the UHD55 is on your must-have list.

Advantages

  • 4K UHD resolution

  • Full-HD 3D

  • HDR10 and HLG HDR support

  • Bright enough for a room with ambient light

  • Good color accuracy out of the box

  • Short Entry Delay

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The essential

The Optoma UHD55 4K is both a gaming and home entertainment projector, thanks to short input lag combined with a high quality image.

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