Optoma UHL55 4K Projector Review
The Optoma UHL55 is a boxy little machine. If you're used to your projectors being rectangular slabs, the laser-powered 4K powerhouse we have here is far more cuboid, giving off the vibes of a chunkier Gamecube or a Star Wars droid.
Packing in support for HDR video, Alexa, and Google Home integration alongside wider IFTTT support and speakers that sound leagues ahead of any other projector we've used it's hard not to recommend this wonderful little machine.
Setting up is reasonably straightforward. There is automatic keystone correction which means that you don't have to visually ensure all your corners are right angles and while the device does support auto focus too we struggled to get it to actually work. Thankfully the manual focus is nice and easy and we were able to ensure that all of our images were pin sharp with minimal frustration. Both HDMI ports support 4K video (many projectors only support 4K on one input) and there is also a built in media player that makes this a reasonably portable solution.
Other than a USB of sample 4K content provided by Optoma for the review (and frankly, we could have watched the footage for hours - it looked stunning and was a real 4K showcase) we used our usual selection of 4K Blu-rays in order to evaluate picture quality. One thing with the sample videos provided was we noticed just how mindblowing the primary colours looked so to test out in the real world the first stop was the Crait scenes in The Last Jedi. The red-on-white vibrancy of those moments in Rian Johnson's film always look good in 4K but here they felt almost three dimensional. Similarly the primary colours on the uniforms in Star Trek Beyond stood out - not in an unnaturally bright way but in terms of definition and depth.
It was instantly noticeable that the inbuilt speakers were a huge step up from those we usually hear in projectors - in line with any TV we've tested, they offered a surprising amount of bass and while there was obviously little in the way of channel separation AND the audio didn't emanate from the correct place in the room, the end result was remarkable again playing into the idea of the UHL55 being a portable solution for those who don't want to skimp on their sound quality while on their travels. Of course there's the option to connect to your existing home cinema surround setup with an optical S/PDIF output.
The inbuilt smart OS seems to have been Android TV based but felt more locked down than we'd have liked. Still we could happily fire up Netflix and make used of their 4K material too without the need to use an external device. The OS seemed reasonably snappy but there were times where the remote button presses could take a second or so to register leading to an occasionally laggy experience. There is support for both Wifi and wired network connections enabling you to ensure there's enough bandwidth for your UHD video.
The remote is pretty basic - with Amazon Fire TV/NVidia Shield remote stylings - most functions are accessible via the menus in the OS rather than via one button clicks on the remote control itself.
We did enjoy the ability to integrate the UHL55 with our Google Home set up allowing voice control over projector functions - a great addition if not really a system seller. As is often the case setting up the integration was a little fiddly and you'd be well advised to keep the instruction manual nearby while you set up and configure. The UHL55 launched with Amazon Alexa support and also offers further smart home integration via IFTTT allowing you to kick off routines around your lighting and other voice powered home cinema kit.
Again Optoma have impressed - the UHL55 is one of the best devices we've ever tested performing flawlessly while offering enough bells and whistles to be considered as the best option for big-screen home cinema for almost all levels of enthusiast.