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There are usually two things you can confidently predict when you hear that a home entertainment is using a laser lighting system. First, its pictures will be bright and colourful. Second, it will cost an arm and a leg. Happily, though, the Optoma UHZ65 only follows the first of these two laser trends.

Picture quality

Two things leap out at you as you settle down to watch the UHZ65 - one expected, one not. The predictable hit is how vibrant and colourful its high dynamic range (HDR) mages look. There’s a much more palpable sense than you get with most sub-£5k projectors of the extra colour range HDR content is nearly always associated with. This sees animated movies erupt off the screen with far more intensity than they would ever have enjoyed in a commercial cinema, but also adds an extra sense of immersive, attention-grabbing realism to ‘regular’ films that stands in stark contrast to the slightly dull look many projectors struggle with when asked to play HDR.

The more unexpected UHZ65 strength is how sharp and detailed its pictures are. After all, while it claims to be a 4K projector, in truth its DLP-based projector system doesn’t carry a native 3840x2160 array of the tiny mirrors DLP technology uses to create pictures. Rather it ‘double flashes’ each mirror so quickly that your eye believes it’s seeing more resolution.

Nonetheless, its native 4K pictures really do look 4K, rather than some sort of downscaled HD. In fact, you’ll need serious eagle eyes to distinguish its sharpness from that of a true 4K projector like Sony’s latest 4K SXRD models, or JVC’s latest D-ILA models.

Helping to develop the sense of pixel density and detail in the picture is some excellent blur-free motion handling, and lots of colour tone subtlety. This subtlety means, too, that while the UHZ65 may shine - literally - with the most potent film pictures, it also delivers milder, less showy content, such as low-lit skin tones, with real authority.

Relatively affordable laser projectors tend to struggle when it comes to contrast and black level. Here again, though, the UHZ65 performs beyond expectations. Dark scenes appear behind surprisingly little low-contrast greyness, and shadowy details in the darkest corners are rendered well. The result is a pleasingly consistent image that’s easy to get immersed in.

While the UHZ65 handles 4K HDR content better than most rivals, it’s also far from a slouch with the HD, standard dynamic range (SDR) images many of us still find ourselves frequently having to watch. It steps down to SDR’s narrower light and colour range perfectly, while its DLP optical system actually adapts better to sub-4K resolutions better than native 4K projector systems do.

If you find yourself feeling the need for HDR at all times, unusually the UHZ65 carries SDR to HDR conversion processing which is good enough to at least be usable with high-quality SDR sources such as HD Blu-rays.

The UHZ65 carries a built-in 4W speaker system. As you might imagine, though, from both its puny power and the fact that the projector will typically be sat a considerable distance from the screen, the built-in sound system should not be relied on in any but the most ‘casual’ of circumstances. 

Living with the Optoma UHZ65

The UHZ65 is easy to set up, thanks to its combination of optical vertical lens shifting and a healthy 1.6x zoom. These features join the projector’s compact bodywork (by laser projector standards) in making it relatively straightforward to accommodate even in awkward room layouts.

Using a laser lighting system means you should expect around 20,000 hours of maintenance-free life from the UHZ65. There’s no need to keep changing bulbs as there is with traditional lamp projectors. Lasers don’t lose brightness over their lifetime anywhere near as much as lamps do, either. 

Laser projectors can be turned off and on almost instantly, without the cool down and warm up times associated with lamp projectors. And while the UHZ65 might be more expensive up front than many lamp projectors, you won’t have to cough up for lamp replacements every 2000-5000 hours. 

Connectivity is as you would expect, with two HDMIs leading the way. These HDMIs don’t support 4K at 120Hz gaming feeds - but nor do those of pretty much any other projector. 

The UHZ65 can run a little noisily in HDR mode, so try not to place it too near your main seating positions.

Conclusion

The UHZ65’s picture quality with both HDR and SDR sources is strong and immersive, and it’s easy to set up and use. Best of all, though, it proves that good home entertainment 4K laser projectors don’t have to cost the earth.

Watching notes

The Lego Batman Movie, 4K Blu-ray The UHZ65’s laser lighting system gets more impact out of The Lego Batman Movie 4K Blu-ray’s riotously bright, colourful animation than pretty much any other projector in its class.

It, 4K Blu-ray Since laser projectors tend to favour brightness over contrast, they often struggle with the numerous ultra-dark scenes in the most recent film adaptation of Stephen King’s It. The UHZ65 handles them convincingly enough, though, to ensure that they’re still engaging to watch and don’t feel out of kilter with bright scenes.

Dune, 4K Blu-ray The extreme detail levels and punchy use of HDR during Dune’s many epic desert exterior shots both pull the best from the UHZ65’s laser lighting system and pseudo-4K resolution.

What the press say

Why you should buy it

The Optoma UHZ65 defies the usual projector world logic by proving that it is possible to get a good 4K home cinema projector that uses laser lighting without having to spend an arm and a leg.

Video review

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