Any movie buff understands why it’s better to experience movie night on the big screen rather than on television. If you’re thinking about making the jump and setting up your own home theater, getting the best possible projector is essential. To really create a movie theater experience at home, a 4K projector is key for any screen.
As expensive as they are, 4K projectors have come down in price a bit in recent years though you still may be surprised by the price tag. Luckily, technology has come a long way and there’s an option out there that delivers amazing 4K picture quality without the hefty price tag.
What Is True 4K?
When 4K projectors first hit the market, they were, at times, prohibitively expensive. This isn’t unusual—VCRs and DVD players once cost a lot of money, too. As technology advances and more companies get in on the action, the price begins to fall which is part of the reason why 4K projectors have come down a bit in price.
There is another reason, though. A lot of manufacturers are making projectors that are not truly 4K and simulating a 4K image by using different imaging chips with more common and less expensive DLP, LCD, or LCoS projectors. To get a little technical, a true 4K projector is 3,820 x 2,160 pixels which is more than 8 million pixels total. Some projectors now use 4K enhancement or 4K technology to create more than 1080p but are actually only projecting images with about 4 million pixels, less than half of true 4K.
How much does this matter? There can be an argument made for both options but, at the end of the day, if you’re getting ultra HD picture quality from a 4K ultra-high definition projector that isn’t true 4K but suits the screen perfectly, then it might not matter much to you.
Do You Need True 4K?
Should you invest in a true 4K projector if there are less expensive versions that can closely replicate the image? It depends how much you’re willing to spend. If you have a budget that allows you to spend upwards of $10,000 on a home movie projector, true 4K will give you the best best projector for a home theater experience.
That said if getting one of the $10,000+ 4K high-end projectors isn’t in your budget but you still want great image quality, there are great 4K ultra-high definition options out there with great color brightness and contrast ratio. The best one we found is the OPTOMA UHD50X which is as close to true 4k resolution as you can get and would look awesome on any screen. It has the pixels without the hefty price tag. Let’s take a look.
Perfect for your living room and beyond, the Optoma UHD50X True 4K UHD Projector for Movies & Gaming uses DLP technology to produce an image. DLP stands for digital micromirror device and uses microscopically tiny mirrors, each one representing a pixel, to create the image.
So, how does it achieve 4K UHD? A full HD experience, by using an advanced processor and incredibly fast switching speed of the mirrors which allows them to show multiple images for each frame. It actually received the seal of approval from the Independent Consumer Technology Association as a “real 4K” projector. Basically, Optoma turned the projector world on its head when it introduced the UHD50X and it’s easy to see why.
Connections and Specs
This projector has two HDMI inputs, an optical audio input, 3.5 mm audio port, a USB port, Ethernet port, 12V trigger jack, VGA port, and an RS-232 so you can use just about any media source that you have with this model.
This projector has a 3,840×2,160 resolution which is more than 8.2 million pixels in all. This is four times the number of pixels on a 1080p HDTV. So, it might not be true 4K but it definitely has the pixel count of an ultra HD projector. Plus, it has an impressive throw ratio, vertical lens shift, and 1.6x zoom and so you can make the adjustments you need to get the best experience with screens 140 inches and larger. Plus, you can get an amazing image from as far as 16 feet away. It also has presets to optimize your viewing experience based on what you’re watching. There are three in all: cinema, HDR, and gaming.
The UHD50X boasts a brightness of 3,000 lumens which means that you’ll be able to get a highly- visible projected image even with some ambient light. This is exactly what you want for a home theater because it’s not always possible to make the room pitch black. The lamp lasts anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 hours depending on usage.
As for color, it has high dynamic range compatibility as well as a wide color range. It produces saturated, rich, lifelike colors as well as bright whites and deep black levels.
The glossy white finish and smooth rounded edges are a departure from the smooth black designs we’re used to seeing in electronics. At just a little over 19 inches wide, it does have quite a large footprint. Cooling vents are tucked away in the front ribbing, though they’re still very noticeable.
The top front panel flips open to give access to the zoom control lever and an image shifting wheel. This is also where you can get to the lamp when you need to change the bulb.
The Best for Less
While the Optoma UHD50X 4K Ultra High Definition Home Theater Projector may not function in the same way that a true 4K projector does, you can’t argue with its performance. It’s not just one of those projectors that are using different tricks to manipulate the image to resemble 4K. It actually produces more than 8.2 million pixels and delivers a sharp, bright image with real-world color.
We can’t say whether you’d get a better experience with a top-of-the-line true 4K projector. If you have the money to spare, go for it. But if you want to create a gorgeous and truly effective 4K experience without going into debt, you can’t beat the Optoma UHD50X performance for less than $2,000, and enjoy the ultimate cinematic experience—at home!