Optoma UHD50 projector
“Beautiful color, clear resolution and low price make the UHD50 easy to use.”
Amazing color accuracy
Easy to set up
Loud fan in smaller rooms
Everyone wants the visual experience of a movie theater without leaving the comfort of home, but historically it’s been difficult—or, at least, expensive. While nothing beats dimming the lights, popping on a cold one, and watching your favorite movie, TV series, or sports team in massive 100-plus inch glory, finding a projector of the right quality at a price that didn’t cost a big hole in the new car fund was an insurmountable stumbling block .
No more, dear proletariat. With devices like Optoma’s new UHD50, which offers 4K resolution and stunning HDR color at an affordable price, almost anyone can get in on the action. After evaluating the Optoma UHD50 for a week while watching everything from Bad boys to Chef’s tablewe’ve come to one simple realization: if you can buy one of these amazing new projectors, you should.
Out of the box
Save a decent projection screen, the UHD50 comes with everything you need to set up, plug in and stream Stranger Things in 4K in no time. It comes with a backlit remote control (and batteries), a power cord, and an HDMI cable to connect to your receiver or video device.
In and out
The UHD50 has a wide array of video and audio inputs and outputs, with Optoma even providing many legacy connections for those looking to connect older systems to it.
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
First and foremost, for modern viewers, there are two HDMI inputs, one for 1080p signals and one HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2 for 4K signals. Although most users will probably use these for a video signal, there are also RS-232C (serial) and VGA inputs for older computers and other systems.
As for audio, there are 3.5 mm audio inputs and outputs, as well as S/PDIF digital audio output. The projector also has two built-in 5W speakers, which provide decent enough sound for basic presentations, but we wouldn’t recommend relying on them for any real video enjoyment. We’ll be honest though: most people who are considering a projector should also be thinking about getting home theater speakers and receivers, if they don’t already have them.
In addition to audio and video, there are two USB ports on the back of the projector — one USB 2.0 port for firmware updates and a USB power port for use with streaming devices or other things that require USB power.
Features and specifications
With a solid 2,400 lumens of brightness, a contrast ratio of up to 500,000:1 and HDR10 support, the UHD50 will take anything you throw at it and reproduce it with breathtaking clarity.
The same .47 Texas Instruments DLP chip we loved in the BenQ HT2550 is also used in the Optoma UHD50, and if anything, we’re more impressed with its performance in the Optoma projector.
The UHD50 will take anything you throw at it and reproduce it with breathtaking clarity.
Both projectors boast 8.2 million pixels and a 3840 x 2160 resolution, but we subjectively preferred the Optome’s color performance over the BenQ in back-to-back in-room tests. Whether you’re streaming content from a Roku Ultra or shooting 4K videos from a PC, we found it much easier to get stunning images from the UHD50.
Not only did it seem to come with a better factory image setting right out of the box, the UHD50 also offers vertical image adjustment and 1.3x optical zoom, allowing you to center the image on the projector screen more quickly. We got our 100-inch image from a distance of 11 feet 8 inches. While the UHD50 doesn’t use the same automatic keystone correction we saw on the HT2550, it was easy to adjust the image to our liking using the settings menu and the included remote control.
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Speaking of settings, the projector offers a wide array of color modes out of the box. We preferred the better contrast and beautiful color accuracy of Cinema mode in darker rooms, but some viewers may want to use ‘Game’ mode to play their favorite consoles, or ‘Light’ if set up in a room with lots of ambient light — although gaming on any which gives the projector significantly more input lag than on a TV or computer monitor. The projector also has ISF modes, which means you can save image calibration settings for both day and night, should your viewing area change dramatically in ambient light.
With a stated bulb life of 6,500 hours, it will be years of continuous viewing before the thought of changing the bulb even crosses your mind. And until then, you’ll probably just be looking at another projector. Still, a replacement bulb only costs a few hundred dollars, so even if yours burns out prematurely, it’s not too much to worry about.
If you’re looking for a completely silent unit to use in small rooms, this probably won’t do.
The UHD50 produces a fair amount of fan noise – we measured it at 32dB at six feet – so if you’re looking for an absolutely silent unit for use in small rooms, this probably won’t do. That said, very few projectors will operate at a quieter level, in this price range or any other, and even when sitting right next to it (as we did in our oddly shaped test room), a little noise never became unbearable.
We spent the vast majority of our 4K viewing time watching streaming video from Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube on the aforementioned Roku Ultra, and were always impressed with the projector’s ability to display even the finest image detail. Whether you’re basking in the glow of chicken wings on an episode of the popular YouTube interview series Hot oneor the classic Ferrari look of the 1980s Red oaksthere really is nothing better than viewing Ultra HD resolution images on larger screens.
Everything we watched in 4K was extremely impressive and enjoyable, and many friends and colleagues commented that they thought the pictures looked better than in the cinema. While we still think we prefer the massive high-end projection offered by our latest local cineplexes, this is by far the best picture we’ve ever seen from a projector in this price range.
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
1080p content like HBO Silicon Valley and Barry it revealed excellent detail even in night scenes and quickly demonstrated that content doesn’t even need to be at the projector’s highest resolution to be fully enjoyable. The projector’s “Dynamic Black” setting brought even better contrast when turned on, offering near-cinematic black levels that never took our eyes away from what was happening on the rest of the screen.
One small visual gripe is that the .47” Texas Instruments chipset inside the projector does throw a “frame” around the actual projector image, but in the vast majority of cases that frame is quickly forgotten — except for ultra-dark scenes. We can’t fault Optoma for that, either, because it’s the best chip in this price class of projectors in 2018.
If you’re looking for fantastic image quality at the lowest possible price, you can’t do better than this.
A few words about HDR performance: There are still no specifications for HDR in consumer projectors. As such, it is difficult to pass judgment on so-called “HDR” image quality. That said, the UHD50 and others like it process HDR metadata and use it to improve the on-screen image by making more judicious decisions about light and dark scenes, contrast and color.
While the UHD50’s HDR effects can’t match the vivid images we experience on the best OLED and QLED TVs, we came away impressed with how vivid this projector can be, especially at such an affordable price. Of course, you won’t get everything from that HD Blu-Ray copy Guardians of the Galaxy, but you will come surprisingly close to the experience you had in the cinema. With such an affordable price, every HDR performance is impressive.
Optoma offers a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor and a 90-day warranty on the lamp itself.
The Optoma UHD50 is an exceptional entry-level 4K projector for viewers who want a cinema-like experience without breaking the bank.
Is there a better alternative?
Not that we tested. We directly compared the UHD50 to the BenQ HT2550, which costs slightly more and has the same imaging chip. Of the two, we preferred the UHD50’s color performance and ease of setup, although we still believe the BenQ is a fantastic projector for the money. We should also point out that the BenQ TK800 is designed to compete more aggressively with a bright projector like the UHD50.
How long will it last?
The Optoma UHD50 should last many years of steady use before you start thinking about replacing the bulb, at which point you’ll probably consider upgrading anyway.
Should you buy it?
That. If you’re looking for fantastic image quality at the lowest possible price, you can’t do better than this.