In this Optoma CinemaX P2 review, we’ll look at just how domesticated the best projectors have become. Traditional long-throw projectors have always been a challenge to accommodate. The best performers are large, and suited to dedicated cinema rooms where the big distance they need between glass and screen is no problem (and they can be hidden out of sight). Meanwhile, smaller projector models tend to look like escapees from the office, smuggled into the home.
But with this ultra-short throw beamer, Optoma has created an easy to accommodate home theatre system that won’t alarm technophobes, and it offers a sublime 4K performance too.
Ultra-short throw projectors can sit at the base of a wall, and project images right upwards onto it, meaning they're a viable alternative to a large TV… expect their images can be bigger. Much, much bigger.
They can also have sound systems built in too, meaning you avoid the situation of knowing that you must buy a speaker setup at the same time as your projector.
The Optoma CinemaX P2 really impresses with its image quality too, but there is a big caveat for HDR support.
Optoma CinemaX P2 review: price & release date
The CinemaX P2 all-in-one Ultra Short Throw projector sells for £2,999 in the UK, $3,300 in the US and $4,999 in Australia. Widely available now, it’s a stablemate for the original CinemaX, also known as the UHZ65UST, and looks much the same apart from its trendy white finish.
Clearly this isn’t a budget offering. It’s considerably more expensive than Viewsonic’s short throw X10-4K, which is another living-room friendly projector (albeit with a somewhat different form factor), and also costs more than the Epson EH-LS500W, a comparable UHD Ultra Short Throw model which sells for around £2,600.
Optoma CinemaX P2 review: Features & what's new
It may be a projector, but the CinemaX P2 operates much like any smart TV, its home screen offering menu, input source and app buttons.
The projector runs a customised version of Android, but there’s no access to the Google Play Store. Instead, the app selection is limited to a browser, Netflix and BBC News. You’ll be better served using one of the HDMI slots for a streaming media device, like a Fire TV or Roku stick.
The projector has a media player built-in, and plays picture, music and video files from USB sticks. There’s no Chromecast support though, which would have been handy for casting directly from a smartphone.
3D may have been consigned to the car boot sale of history when it comes to TVs, but you can still enjoy it here. No DLP 3D Link glasses are supplied in the box though, so that’s an additional spend.
While the P2 borrows the chassis of the UHZ65UST that it replaces, there are a number of key differences internal between the two. Significantly, contrast is down from 2,500,000:1 to 2,000,000:1, and brightness dimmed by 500 lumens.
The colour gamut has also shrunk a tad, with Optoma claiming just 85 per cent of DCI-P3 for the P2, compared to 87 per cent on its predecessor.
Conversely, the P2 is a good deal cheaper than that brighter model. How significant are these changes, and has Optoma actually found the sweet spot when it comes to price and performance? Let's get into it.
Optoma CinemaXP2 review: Images & sound
Picture quality is impressive. Beneath the hood, the CinemaX P2 uses a single chip DLP device with a laser light engine. It’s HDR compatible, but remember HDR on projectors is rather different to what you’ll see on something like the best OLED TVs, as there’s no pixel-precise light control.
Instead, the projector manages the light output as best it can, to reflect the dynamic range in the source material. It doesn’t glint with specular highlights, like lamps and headlights in the dark, but it does present an image with appreciable pop.
It’s relatively bright at 3,000 ANSI lumens too, which is enough to cope with moderate levels of ambient light. Watching sports or playing games is fine in a semi-daylit room, although for movies you’ll definitely want to dim the lights for maximum enjoyment.
The Texas Instruments single chip solution used here delivers a wonderfully sharp, 4K pixel-dense picture. Wildlife documentary shows bristle with texture and depth, and black level performance is solid. The black bars that you get with widescreen movies are convincingly dark.
There is a wrinkle when it comes to HDR though. While you’ll find HLG listed on the P2 specification, this only applies to HLG file playback via USB, which is irrelevant to almost everyone. This means that you won't be able to view any broadcast HDR from set-top boxes – only from streaming or downloads if they're in HDR10.
This caveat also applies to any other set top box that also requires an HLG sync to display HDR10.
The P2’s stereo audio performance is really good, relative to other projectors and flatscreen TVs. The soundstage is clear and wide. The projector supports Bluetooth, as well as dual band Wi-Fi, so you can stream music directly from a connected Bluetooth device with the P2 in audio-only mode.
The system has a total output of 40W, with each driver utilising a 10W digital amp module. This makes it a creditable Bluetooth player when not in use on movie night.
Optoma CinemaX P2 review: Design & usability
Ultra-short throw projectors are typically used with a white wall. The projector is nominally unobtrusive when off, but able to transform a blank wall into a display at the touch of a button.
It’s a convenient way to use a projector, but be warned, it will show up any anomaly in your wall surface. Alternatively you can partner with a screen, possibly a fixed ALR (Ambient Light Reflecting) model. This will resolve any geometry issues, and grant the projector more brightness, but it does conflict with the lifestyle appeal of the product.
Optoma has its own 100-inch ambient light rejecting fixed screen, the ALR101. This effectively turns the P2 into a Laser TV.
Achieving a 120-inch image is simply a matter of shuffling the projector in front of a wall. At a metre away from the wall, the P2 was able to project a picture 3m across for us.
As with the original model, there are three HDMI inputs, two are on the back, and one on the side. The rear inputs are v2.0, and HDMI 1 is ARC compatible. You can rename all HDMI inputs to reflect your connected sources.
There’s also two USB ports, an optical digital audio output, Ethernet LAN and a 3.5 mm audio jack output.
Build quality and finish is high. The sound system is fronted by acoustic cloth.
Optoma CinemaX P2 review: Verdict
The Optoma CinemaX P2 is a beautifully designed Ultra Short Throw projector that could happily sit on a sideboard against a white wall, without drawing attention to itself when not on. Design and quality of finish are excellent. It’s a fine all-round performer, versatile enough for general use, games and sport, even in rooms with some ambient light.
Dim the house nights and it’s an immersive movie display. Unfortunately, its HDR won’t work with Sky Q HDR.
Optoma CinemaX P2 review: Also consider
The Viewsonic X10-4K is a short throw (rather than ultra-short throw) model that needs to be parked a couple of metres from a wall, for instant big screen entertainment. Designed to be portable, a carry handle makes this 2kg projector easy to set up where needed. It also features a punchy Harmon Kardon sound system. The LED light source is limited to 2,400 LED lumens, so you’ll want to dim the lights, but its DLP 4K Ultra HD chip presents a pleasingly sharp image.
A direct rival to Optoma’s CinemaX P2, the Epson EH-LS500W also embraces a living room aesthetic, and uses a high brightness (4,000 lumens) laser light engine for highly accurate colour fidelity and almost instant on. It also features a 10W sound system, so a soundbar is optional. The price is high, though.