Optoma UHZ50 4K DLP Projector Review

hcchighreccomendOptoma's conventional 4K projector might lack the allure of its UST siblings, but a laser engine, flexible setup and punchy performance mean it's still a bright buy, says Steve May

We've seen projectors adopt a variety of form factors of late, from UST models to Samsung's novel portable Freestyle. Optoma's UHZ50 is a more traditional beamer, but it's no less exciting.

A 4K DLP laser model with HDR support, it's both compact enough to be brought out for movie or gaming sessions (it boasts a 240Hz 1080p gaming mode), and smart enough for a permanent ceiling installation in a living room. At £2,699 it's definitely not a budget model, and its build quality is commensurately high.

Game Of Throws
Specifications are on point, and include some niceties that rival UST beamers ignore. One of these, obviously, is the projector's 1.3x optical zoom. This, plus focus, is manually operated via a standard dial and lever combo, and combined with the UHZ50's lens gives a 1.21-1.59:1 throw ratio. A 100in diagonal image can be projected from a distance between 2.6m and 3.5m approx.

The rear-panel connections bank is well stocked, and includes three HDMI ports, one of which is eARC/ARC enabled, plus optical digital and 3.5mm analogue audio outputs. For system builders who want to sync the projector to an electric screen, there's also a 12V trigger, as well as RS-232. The UHZ50 works with Google Assistant, offering voice control if required, plus supports IFTTT (If This Then That), which uses applets to trigger events – so you might programme the projector to power on when you dim lighting.

An Ethernet port provides a wired network connection, but the unit is also bundled with a Wi-Fi dongle, which occupies one of two user-accessible USB slots on the rear. You can also take advantage of USB power to drive an HDMI media streaming stick, such as an Amazon Fire TV device or Roku model. Optoma also offers a built-in media player, in case you have any shows on USB stick that you want to play. Another alternative is the Android-derived Marketplace app, which brings access to the likes of Netflix and Spotify but is generally limited.

If you're projecting onto a wall rather than a dedicated movie screen, the UHZ50 has a variable 'Wall Color' setting which aims to colour-compensate if the surface is not pure white. There are six options available – blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink and grey. For an uneven wall surface there's a Geometric Correction menu, including auto keystone correction. Vertical lens shift and adjustable feet provide real-world image alignment.

Let It Shine
As you might expect, the built-in sound system on this projector is perfunctory, its little stereo speakers sounding brittle. Some will plan on using this for convenience, but the UHZ50 is best coupled with an external sound system managing your source components. Just remember the PJ is only compatible with a standard stereo feed, not Dolby Digital. When it receives the latter it presents nothing more than a digital burble. Configure your sources correctly!

Crucially, this laser PJ, which claims a 3,000 Lumens light output, is bright enough to use in a room with moderate ambient light. This makes it a good choice when it comes to sports and gaming, where black room conditions are generally not desirable.