The Optoma UHZ50 is a well-equipped 4K laser HDR home entertainment projector that wants to replace your TV. It’s bright enough for daytime use, give or take, and suitable for both movies and gaming – thanks to its Full HD (1080p at 240Hz) mode, the latter really benefits.
The UHZ50 doesn’t have the funky form-factor of the Samsung Freestyle, or its more living room friendly Ultra Short Throw projector peers, but it is compact enough to be stored under the stairs if you don’t want a permanent installation.
So could the UHZ50 be the beamer to make your flatscreen redundant? Read our full review to see whether it's one of the best projectors for you.
Optoma UHZ50 review: price and features
For a 4K projector with a laser light engine, the UHZ50 can be considered competitively priced at £2,699 in the UK and US$2,799 Stateside.
The provision of laser means you’ll be spared the cost of an expensive lamp replacement. The quoted life is 30,000 hours, which effectively makes the projector maintenance free.
The UHZ50 is compatible with Google Assistant for basic voice control, and can also be used within an IFTTT (If This Then That) smart home ecosystem, where applets can be used to trigger and sync pre-programmed events.
For movie fans, there’s 24fps movie playback support. There’s also useful motion smooth for sports, via PureMotion frame-interpolation technology.
Installation is relatively pain-free too. Lining the projector up with a screen or white wall only takes a few minutes. Zoom and focus are manually optimised, via a standard dial and lens lever.
For a more sophisticated install, you can sync the projector to an electric screen using a 12v trigger. This provision is also handy for those who want to update an existing home cinema that uses the same setup. There’s also RS232 control available.
If screens are not your scene, or you simply want the convenience of casting to a wall, the UHZ50 has a variable ‘Wall Color’ setting which compensates for hues when you’re not projecting onto a pure white wall. There are six options to choose from: blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink and grey. There’s also a vertical lens shift tool, to help position the image.
While we get access to a small number of apps in the Optoma store, like Netflix and Spotify, they’re not recommended – far better to plug in a streaming stick and access your content from there.
Finally, an enhanced gaming mode should please console owners. Input lag is rated at 16.7ms in 4K at 60Hz, and just 4ms in 1080p at 240Hz.
Optoma UHZ50 review: Picture performance
The key to the UZH50’s visual appeal is its brightness. Rated at 3000 lumens, it’s punchy enough for use in rooms with moderate ambient light, making it a good option when it comes to big-`screen gaming and Super Bowl parties.
To see the projector at its best though, you’ll want to dim the lights. Only then do you get a sense of its colour potency and contrast. The picture clarity is high. DLP single chip projectors always do a fine job when it comes to delineation, and here the image positively bristles with pin-sharp detail.
It’s HDR capable – that's high dynamic range – but projectors don’t handle or present HDR in the same way a TV does. With no pixel level control, they attempt to manage brightness to replicate the HDR effect.
HDR sequences with obvious peaks are handled well. Images have appropriate bright pop but remain naturalistic. On the debit side, there’s a noticeable upsurge in operational noise for HDR. This higher 29dB fan noise is also evident when the projector’s in Game and Bright image modes. So it's far from silent.
Image presets when you’re not watching an HDR source comprise Cinema, HDR simulation, Game, Reference, Bright and User adjustable. Not that you’ll want to be forever swapping picture presets. For most content, we found the Cinema mode offered the best balance of colour vibrancy and contrast.
The UZH50 delivers a decent black level performance, and dynamic contrast, claimed at 2,500,000:1, is high. Watch a film in theatre conditions and letterbox bars are a deep grey. This translates to a good sense of depth and texture within its 4K images.
The model’s colour fidelity is excellent. The laser engine offers full Rec 709 coverage, with deep reds and purples providing plenty of eye candy. The projector looks fabulous with animated features, which is good news if you have Disney+ on speed dial.
Optoma UHZ50 review: Sound quality
While the Optoma does have a built-in sound system, as is the way with this style of projector, it doesn’t amount to much.
It’s rated at 10W output, but its stereo drivers are little more than functional. It makes sense to route audio through a separate sound system.
The projector is not compatible with Dolby Digital+, so you’ll need to ensure the audio from your source is presented as vanilla stereo. If you don’t, expect a rather ungainly electronic racket.
Optoma UHZ50 review: Design & usability
The UZH50 is compact, and neatly finished in fashionable white. Build quality is fine.
Connectivity is generous: there are three HDMI ports, one of which is eARC/ARC enabled. There’s also an optical digital audio out, analogue stereo via a 3.5mm minijack and Ethernet.
Supplied in the box is a Wi-Fi dongle, which you need to pop into one of the two provided USB slots.
Also included in the box is a small backlight remote control, but there's on-body controls if you want to get hands on.
Projector menus can be dull, prosaic affairs but that’s not the case here. The main home page interface is refreshingly colourful, with easy source selection and icons for setting, apps, and the like.
Optoma UHZ50 review: Verdict
We rate the Optoma UHZ50 a top-notch 4K HDR laser projector. It’s bright enough for daytime use, give or take, but looks especially great with movies in a fully dark room. It also boasts low input lag for a responsive gaming experience.
The on-board sound system can be kindly described as functional, but that’s par for the course with this style of projector. Operational noise is also quite high in select picture modes, although this shouldn’t be an issue if you partner it with an external sound system.
Overall, we reckon this Optoma is versatile and enormous fun if you're not in the market for one of the best TVs and are keen to buy a maintenance-free projector instead.