Comparing Optoma’s UHZ65 Laser and Sony’s VPL-VW365ES SXRD Projectors
With all the controversy and market disturbance of the Optoma UHD65 (the first 4K UHD projector under $2,500) we were anxious to get our hands on the laser version with its claimed higher contrast, wider color gamut, and significantly brighter light output. Even though some of us were able to see the UHZ65 at Infocomm 2017 and CEDIA 2017, it is almost impossible to make any real quality assessment at a trade show particularly in high ambient light conditions which these projectors are not designed for. During CEDIA we were fortunate enough to talk to the national sales manager and, with the help of our rep, we were able to have one for two days for our annual Fall Open House. Please understand that up until this projector was announced, 4K laser projectors have a cost upwards of over $25,000 and even the Epson 1080p laser with “4K Enhancement” (1/2 UHD pixels) costs about $8,000. That is not to say that the UHZ65 is in the same league as those projectors as far as features go. But as far as image quality goes I think it will surprise many how good it is.
Note that we did run into an anomaly with the video recording with color accuracy, the timing of the camera shutter speed and the sequential color nature of single chip DLP projectors somehow effected the the accuracy of the colors (mainly the blue) in the video version of this comparison (but not the stills in this article post). Despite trying several different shutter speeds and checking two different monitors (one looked OK the other had the purple) we had to go with what we got that night as the unit would have to be flown out the next day. Once we get our own UHZ65 we will track down the unique circumstances of the camera turning deep blues into purple. So, for the color portion of the comparison please refer to these images as they reflect more what our eyes see. For contrast and detail please refer to both as there are some scenes that are better in the video and some that are better here.
Here’s a quick comparison of their major specs:
|Image Type:||3 LCD (SXRD Reflective)||Single Chip DLP|
|Native Resolution:||Native 4K (4096 x 2160)||4K UHD (3840 x 2160)|
|Contrast Ratio:||Not Given||2,000,000:1|
|Dimensions (WxDxH):||19 1/2″ x 7 11/16″ x 18 1/4″||19.6” x 6” x 13”|
|Weight:||31 lbs.||20.5 lbs.|
Color & Brightness
This is what we were most interested to see due to the laser light source. Laser light source has the capability (depending on the design) of producing a wider color gamut with deeper colors more closely approximating what our eyes see in real life. The Sony features what they refer to as “Triluminos” color which is very good compared to most projectors. The Epson LS10500 laser projector has one of the best color gamuts we have tested and comes very close or even matches (with the color filter engaged in the “Digital Cinema mode”) the DCI P3 current motion picture standards. So, how good is the UHZ65 color? We started with an abbreviated calibration (time limited) and started the comparisons.
One of the dramatic improvements in the UHZ65 over the UHD65 is the light output. When we previously compared the UHD65 to the VPL-VW365ES, in order to make the comparison even close, we had to put the UHD65 in its brightest lamp mode and the Sony in its lowest lamp mode. Not this time. The UHZ65 easily equals the brightest mode and can even go higher in some modes. We did not have time to calibrate in this first test. The other thing that is very different with the UHZ65 is that in the brightest color mode (not yet tested by us) it did not yield a greenish image like the UHD65 and 60 do. So potentially this new Optoma could be calibrated in its brightest color mode and potentially reach over 1,500- 1800 lumens with D65 calibration (manufacturer brightness ratings are not with calibrated D65 color accuracy) . Stay tuned. In the mean time, this next image shows how bright the whites are in this image of a child. Notice the bright white window behind his face on both sides of the image and how the Optoma is clearly brighter and in fact measured 10 foot candles higher. The skin tone, however, is slightly darker but mostly just different than the Sony skin tone in this shot, both looked amazing.
This next image really surprised us. The yellows were always a great strength of Sony projectors and yet in this image the laser has greatly improved the Optoma yellows. Whereas the UHD65 had respectable yellows for a DLP projector, this laser version is outstanding. The yellows, greens and blue are very rich and saturated. Even against the Triluminos color of the Sony, the laser projector delivers compelling color – especially in this price range.
Contrast & Black Levels
This got really interesting for us. Even though the deep blacks were not visibly improved over the UHD65, the overall contrast was. Why? First, because you are dealing with a much higher light output and essentially the same black levels, the contrast naturally increases. Second, this like its little brother, the laser version features the “Pure Contrast Engine,” which is a form of dynamic light control. It does amazing things for the image. With this circuit engaged it comes close or exceeds many more expensive projectors with normal brightness level and near black images. In the case of the VPL-VW365ES compared here, it really depends on the scene. In this next shot we did find a single image which shows how each projector had better contrast in different areas of the image.
When it comes to absolute black levels in a predominately black scene, like the one below, there is no question that the Sony has the advantage in blacks. However, it is interesting to note that even in these very dark scenes the Optoma has the much brighter highlights as can be seen with the brighter stars and higher contrast overall. We suspect this is because of the higher native contrast of the DLP imaging chip or perhaps the higher depth of modulation around the two pixel resolution like most of the stars in this scene. In either case it is very noticeable and which is better is a matter of personal preference.
This is where all the internet chatter seems to focus. On the one hand, the Sony has three “true 4K native” imaging chips, whereas the Optoma uses a single Texas Instruments 4K UHD DLP chip. The controversy and confusion is that many feel the TI chip is using a similar “e shift” or “4K enhancement” method, like some other manufacturers use, based on a 1080 chip set; Optoma is not. It is a higher resolution imaging chip (smaller pixels) and uses an “optical actuator” to deliver a full 8.3 million pixels to the screen. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it is very close and in some cases better than some “true 4K” projectors to the eye because it does not have to deal with the ultra fine and very critical alignment of three separate imaging chips at a resolution of 4K. You can debate and argue all you want but please – see for yourself a side by side, and then you make the call.
For us, it is more about the end result rather than how (although that is always interesting) it is accomplished. We have yet to read a review or do a demo to a potential client where the detail or resolution of the Optoma is in question, it is quite simply very very good for its price.
The Optoma UHZ65 does indeed deliver a brighter, wider color, and improved contrast image over its little brother, the UHD65, and comes very close to the Sony VPL-VW365ES. Which one is best will depend on your budget, application, and usage. The Sony has the feature advantage of 3D, lower latency for gaming, and full lens shift horizontally and vertically. The Optoma has a no-lamp design with a long life (20,000 hrs to half brightness) laser, excellent detail, color, and contrast. How close the newly announced VPL-VW285ES comes to either of these will be the next question.
Below are the Theo-Charts of both the projectors compared above. To see additional projector Theo-charts and how they compare simply hover over “Home Theater” from the main menu and select “Home Theater Displays” and then click on “Projector Comparison Charts”.