Optoma UHD51 4K Ultra HD DLP Projector Review
Optoma's projector range is outstanding - catering for quality at all price levels, it provides an excellent alternative for big-screen movies in your own home; especially when compared to even the largest flat screen TV. You couldn't get a screen anywhere near as large as the 100 inches plus that you can get easily with a projector.
The UHD51 is one of Optoma's entries in the emerging 4K projection market - offering a huge 2160p display that is as pin sharp as any OLED TV on the market.
First impressions are good - even before you take it out of the box - the sheer weight suggestions this is a solid piece of kit. Once unpackaged you'll find a sizeable glossy unit that hints at the power within. Unlike some of their HD projectors, this isn't one you'll want to be carrying around to use elsewhere. The glossy appearance was probably the one thing that didn't impress - making the UHD51 look 'cheaper' than it would have in matte black.
Set up is pretty simple: connect your power and HDMI cable / device and you're off. There is a digital (and analogue) audio output to connect to your home cinema amp making the UHD51 a feasible centrepiece to your home cinema.
Upon powering up we hit our first stumbling block - 4K is nowhere near as forgiving as standard HD when it comes to connections; the Xbox One X we used for our main 4K device refused to display on the projector. Just a black screen. A little bit of troubleshooting and the issue was revealed to be the length of the HDMI connection - something quickly resolved by a rapid reorganisation of our test setup to move the console nearer the projector with a shorter cable run.
Once that hurdle was out of the way and we had Justice League up and running in glorious UHD - with HDR we should add - we went on to discover that there is no keystone correction available on this model. Having clarified with Optoma, they rightly told us that digital keystone correction was not supported to ensure the best picture quality. Understandable - anyone buying this projector will be wanting the optimal display so this is something we can accept. It also meant that to get a picture that lined up with our test screen we had to move the projector to a ceiling mount. Usually this would be fine, but the weight of the projector would be a concern to some when mounting on a ceiling and therefore it should be installed by a professional.
There is some vertical lens movement that will allow you to shift the image up and down a small distance, but in some cases it would have been nice to have the option of keystone correction in the knowledge of the tradeoff in picture quality - let's be honest, a keystone corrected 4K image is still going to be impressive compared to the previous display generation!
Hiccups and justified limitations out of the way, it was time to watch a few 4K films and give the projector a real workout. Justice League looked utterly astonishing; pin sharp - and the dark colour palette meant that HDR really earned its kudos revealing huge amounts of detail even in the darkest of scenes.
Similarly, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, really punched through with the space-based scenes looking stunning. However, what really impressed was the final act sequence on Crait - the blood red on pristine white contrast as the speeders whipped up the surface of the planet was stunning and the colour depth provided by the UHD51 made this look better than even the cinema presentation.
Being a DLP projector, there's always the potential for rainbow artefacts, but none were visible while we were reviewing. In fact, we haven't seen anything that shows of UHD Blu-ray content in a better way.
Connectivity is well catered for with two HDMI inputs and a powered USB socket enabling the use of a dongle such as a 4K Chromecast Ultra or Roku Streaming Stick+. Coupled with the audio outputs this means you're not limited to the (admittedly serviceable) internal speakers.
The user interface is a little more modern than the previous Optoma device we'd tested - a good sign that the improvements aren't just in the hardware.
Our short time with the UHD51 got us excited for the potential of 4K projectors. For £1499 you can't get more screen for your money - it's a bargain - and you won't be disappointed with shelling out that much cash for it. There's just something holding us back from investing ourselves - and that's the feeling that even better is just around the corner; and with Optoma you can guarantee that in 12 months there'll be something that offers all of the above, in a tighter, lighter package for a comparable outlay.
So, if you want a 4K projector now - GO FOR IT. If you can wait, do that and see what the next iteration brings.
Last updated: 10/07/2018 09:45:23