Optoma CinemaX P1 Laser TV Review - Picture Quality 2

June 5, 2020

/ By Art Feierman

Optoma P1 4K UHD Laser TV Review – Picture Quality 2: 4K HDR Movies and Content, HDTV Streaming and Sports, 1080p movies, Overall Picture Quality

4K HDR: Movies and Other Content

Years ago, people bought home projectors primarily to put into a dedicated home theater/cave, with the primary interest of watching movies. Today’s projectors need to do everything well.

Projectors today are used in far more settings, such as living rooms and family rooms with laser TVs, as well as other “bright room” projectors. And with that move out of the darkroom, the appeal is no longer mostly movies, but lots of sports and also what I’ll call “general TV viewing” (including streaming).

When it comes to the P1, I found that “right out of the box” HDR was pretty good looking, fine for most folks. The image is bright enough to handle a room with respectable lighting control (ie. shades on windows that block most of the light, etc.) HDR itself adds punch to the overall image but because of the larger dynamics.

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Post calibration, the picture is slightly better. I’ve been watching movie content in my living room now for a month, where I save movies for evening time because I do not yet have respectable lighting control. Even on a rainy day, with my sun shades all down, dark movie scenes aren’t bright enough to look good.

When, however, I started working with the P1 in my theater, where I can adjust the lighting from lots of windows to almost pitch black, the P1 looked great with the ambient light very low.

I think most folks with, say a family room and some good shades can watch movies in the daytime, but that lighting control is key.

Stunning scene from Passengers. The P1 did great, and the dark detail in their clothes is visible!

Colors on 4K with HDR were very reasonably well saturated, and the image has a fair of pop to it (as expected), but I seemed to want just a bit more.  It almost seems subdued a bit.   Skin tones were very well balanced, but not quite as natural as, say the typical Sony (no direct competition in terms of laser TVs). Epson’s skin tones on the HC5050UB I have here, are slightly more accurate (post-calibration) but, due to my favoring Epson’s image processing to “sharpen”, the Epson has a touch of hardness to skin tones, but the Epson is not a laser TV.

Epson’s forthcoming laser TV, may well best this P1 at skin tones, but I suspect the P1 will best the LS500 at black levels.

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Speaking of black levels with HDR, I find overall, that when in HDR the blacks seem brighter than when viewing the same content in SDR. This is a general statement, not specific to the P1. As such I’m always wanting a bit more black level performance. I would love to see if Optoma can smooth out my experience with Dynamic Black as that may help. Still, I’m not aware of any “laser TV” under the $25K price of the Sony, that would do noticeably better blacks than this projector. Only the LG HU85LA so far, probably has a slight edge in that regard, of the ones I’ve reviewed.

Bottom Line on overall 4K with HDR: Optoma is providing a very good value for the price. Perhaps most importantly, when I “turn off” my critical viewing brain, and just kick back to watch movies, I thoroughly enjoyed the P1 for movie and other high-quality content in my living room at night. For 4K with HDR, if you want anything as good or better in a Laser TV, from the ones we’ve reviewed, so far, you will definitely be paying more.  Overall, the P1 handles HDR itself rather well, within the limits of its brightness.  As a laser projector, the P1 tries to do P3 color but comes in in the mid-low 80% range. The best laser home theater projectors in terms of wider/bigger color space, tend to do 92% or better.

Still the effects of HDR itself make a lot more difference to the picture than getting a little closer to P3 color.

HDTV, Streaming, and Sports

football and flags
It's another Super Bowl! Very good flag color reproduction, within the limits of the broadcast...

For Sports, the Optoma P1 performs really well! That’s until I watched a Penn State Notre Dame 1992 Orange Bowl replay on TV last night. That was pre HD, so terribly soft and low quality projected at almost 120” diagonal. No one should put bad pre-HD content on screens that large unless you are 20 feet back at least!

The very last thing I watched before writing this page, was BlackList in 4K without HDR from Amazon Prime. Lori and I always watch a couple of these episodes at a time, together. It really was an excellent picture, and for those who follow – their last episode mixed animation in with live, to complete the episode during Covid-19 lockdown.

I was most pleased when viewing the latest episodes of The Blacklist. And comparing vs other projectors, on the pilot, James Spaeder as Red, offered very good skin tones on the opening scene of the pilot in our regular image featured in many reviews.

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As long as your room lighting is under decent control, you can enjoy Blacklist or that football game (or even eight football games at once) on the Optoma CinemaX P1 Laser TV.

BTW, provides throw distances up to 120”. I did not test to see if the P1 would focus on a larger screen, than 120”.

Editor’s note: For sports viewing, of course, large screens are awesome. If I can get DirecTV here next fall, I’ll be back to putting up on my 120” screen up to 8 NFL games at once, and each one will be about the size of a 27” TV and rather watchable and readable. If I can’t get a satellite dish up, I’ll be limited next year to the same 4 games max at one time. Tsk, Tsk. -art

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My assorted images should give you a good idea of how much ambient light can be handled and still have a pretty great image on your screen.

Here are some images of my far brighter-than-most living room with no shades on the five sliding glass doors, and light blinds on three bay windows in the room (sunny day) and two at night, same setup.

pano of sunny room
Optoma P1: Pano image of my living room at brightest time of day, west exposure, sun pouring in. Not usable!
Even with low and color lighting on, a gorgeous image.

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If you have a room with lots of “glass” like I do, you will need good shades for daytime viewing:

Living room lighting conditions - Florida
Another look at the living room where most P1 daytime images were taken on sunny and cloudy days, Morning - no sun coming in.
4K image - too much ambient light
This slightly washed-out image taken 4K/HDR from Black Panther. Partially sunny day, blinds, shades closed.

CinemaX P1 - 1080p Movies

No issues at all with 1080 content in general. The color was very close to being the same as 4K/HDR. I watched segments from several 1080p movies (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship, iRobot, and Pirates of the Caribbean, Casino Royale (Bond) of course, and Hunger Games).

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The player below has a few assorted 1080p images for your consideration.

Black levels were as mentioned on the previous page, were little different between SDR and HDR just not quite as dark on HDR. I really was impressed with the black level handling on the Casino Royale (Bond night train scene).

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Overall Picture Quality

Pre-Calibration, the Optoma does rather well in terms of color balance. Better than most of the DLP home projectors we review, although BenQ, in particular, tends to do every bit as well as Optoma, perhaps better – right out of the box.

The P1 performs well with little or minimal adjustments and looks even better with the calibration settings Jason came up with, during his full calibration. Again, we invite you to try our published settings for the P1.

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As a family home entertainment system, the P1 provides good value and better color before (much better), and after (still a bit better) than the less expensive VAVA laser TV competition.

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When it comes to the picture, the P1 doesn’t rival brighter LG, which is dual, not single laser, but the LG will likely cost you $1500 - $2000 more, and the forthcoming (and also brighter) Epson is expected to sell for a good $1000 more. Really good picture quality in this case, is the value proposition. Slightly better, and brighter pictures in a Laser TV design, will definitely cost you more!

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