Jamie Carter auditions an Optoma PJ that mixes 4K HDR playback with voice control and app integration
Add a projector to your breakfast routine…
4K DLP projector with Wi-Fi/Bluetooth skills
Part of Optoma’s varied 4K DLP PJ range
LG CineBeam HU85L; XGIMI H2 LED
IF YOU’VE BEEN paying any attention to the tech world over the past few years, you’ll have noticed the rise of Amazon’s Alexa, and when it comes to AV. shouting into thin air is replacing fumbling with a remote control.
Optoma’s UHL55 projector is Alexa- ready. meaning that – when combined with an Echo device with the Optoma SmartProjection skill enabled – you can say things like ‘Alexa, increase volume on movie room” (having set ‘movie room’ as the name for the UHL55), or ask it to switch inputs, change image modes and more.
As well as this unusual feature, the 4K HDR UHL55 has a few other strings to its bow. including an LED light source that’s rated at 30,000 hours and 2.000 Lumens, and a built-in Bluetooth speaker for smart device connection that works even when the PJ is switched off. Wi-Fi and Android OS integration also introduces media playing software that handles 4K MP4 videos from a USB stick, as well as content via apps including Netflix. YouTube. BBC iPlayer and Spotify.
Weighing 3.8kg and measuring 220mm x 220mm x 135mm. the UHL55 is made to be moved. In an impressive design flourish, removing the lens cap switches on the product, and placement is easy enough. From a few metres away from a screen, an 80in image is possible – the throw ratio is fixed at 1.2:1 as there’s no zoom.
Autofocus doesn’t always work effectively, although it’s easy enough to do using Optoma’s tiny Bluetooth remote control. Not that the remote particularly impresses, being unresponsive and slow. Maybe it’s made that way to encourage use of Alexa…
The UHL55 is well connected in far more ways than voice. It’s equipped with a brace of HDMI 2.0 inputs and an optical audio output, and can decode Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks to send to an AV receiver via optical.
Voice control worked flawlessly in my test, and felt a natural way of interaction. I was also surprised by the PJ’s secondary role as a standalone Bluetooth speaker. Once put into its dedicated Bluetooth mode, it can take audio streams from a ‘phone and play them via its 8W stereo speaker array, exhibiting a well-balanced (although not super-loud) performance.
Judged on picture quality, the UHL55 is a mixed bag. Colour and detail from Solo: A Star Wars Story (4K Blu-ray) are always eye-catching, but both black levels and shadow detail never reach beyond average. Optoma’s frame interpolation tech (PureMotion) isn’t generally needed, but it did help remove a touch of blur when Han, Chewbacca and Tobias Beckett do battle atop a moving train on Vandor to capture its cargo of coaxium. Despite the PJ’s living room-friendly ethos, there’s plenty of calibration potential, including gamma and colour management. It’s also Full HD 3D capable.
Giving voice to projection
Manufacturers are putting voice control on products that have been happily voice-less for years for one simple reason: they think users would rather have an invisible, hands-free interface than a piece of hardware. They’re probably right, and on the UHL55, Alexa voice commands work well, provided you can stomach the rather long-winded setup process. However, the UHL55 doesn’t prove quite smart enough to do away with a remote entirely, and unfortunately the zapper that is supplied is very poor – let’s hope downgraded remotes don’t become a feature in this inbetween era.
4K plays well on the UHL55, and I love the overall design, but the price tag here is high for something that’s not quite as cutting- edge as it wants to be
Great use of voice control and apps in a tempting form factor, but this 4K compact is expensive for an occasional-use product.
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3D: Yes 4K: Yes. 3,480 x 2,160 HDR: Yes. HDR10 CONNECTIONS: 2 x HDMI inputs; USB 2.0; USB 3.0; Ethernet; optical digital audio output; headphone jack BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 2,000 Lumens CONTRAST (CLAIMED): 25,000:1 ZOOM: No DIMENSIONS: 220(w) x 135(h) x 220(d)mm WEIGHT: 3.8kg
FEATURES: Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice control; Android TV apps; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth (acts as a Bluetooth speaker); PureMotion frame interpolation; HDCP 2.2 support; Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding