Laser-phosphor illumination is becoming more common in projectors, even relatively low-cost models. Case in point—the Optoma UHZ65, which made its debut at CEDIA. Like all current 4K/UHD consumer DLP projectors, this one is a single-chip design using Texas Instruments’ 0.7″ DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) chip. The chip has 4 million micromirrors that are quickly shifted back and forth diagonally between two positions, resulting in 8 million pixels (3840×2160) on the screen.
Because it’s a single-chip projector, the UHZ65 uses color-filter wheel—in this case, RGBY. It also provides manual vertical lens shift, but no horizontal shift, making placement less flexible. It’s peak light output is specified to be 3000 lumens—though of course, it will likely be less after calibration.
The UHZ65 was demonstrated in a semi-darkened area within the booth of ADI, Optoma’s distributor, so it wasn’t easy to find on the show floor. It was projecting onto a 16:9 Draper CS1200X ambient light-rejecting screen (1.2 gain) measuring 100″ diagonally. Even in the dim light of that area, I could see lots of speckle, and the Optoma rep agreed that it wasn’t the best material for the demo.
I took a look at clips from Planet Earth II on UHD Blu-ray. Detail was very good, but rainbows were very evident in a dark scene with raccoons. In a brighter scene with pigeons by a river, the detail in their feathers was excellent. Moving on to another very dark scene with hyenas, the black level was fairly high, and light from the main booth washed out part of the image, even on an ALR screen.
The Optoma UHZ65 is scheduled to be available in a few weeks for a list price of less than $5000; if I were to guess, I’d say it’ll be $4999.99, the same price for the Sony VPL-VW285ES. However, the UHZ65 offers less than the Sony for the same price: manual vertical lens shift, no horizontal shift, color-wheel rainbows, and DLP’s inherently high black levels. By contrast, the Sony has motorized vertical and horizontal lens shift and, with its 3-chip architecture, no rainbows. Granted, the Optoma needs no regular lamp replacement, unlike the Sony, but I don’t think that’s enough to overcome its other shortcomings—at least, not without a longer look under better conditions.