Optoma CinemaX P2 Home Theater Projector – Performance: Color Reproduction, Brightness, Black And Shadow Detail, Picture Quality
The Optoma CinemaX P2 offers a wide range of out-of-the-box preset modes. There has not been a time I haven’t been impressed with Optoma’s attention to color accuracy. Every Optoma projector I’ve reviewed to date has excellent color performance with minimal adjustments required. The P2 is no different. Optoma’s Cinema is the mode I prefer for movies and TV content. Cinema and Reference are the two most accurate modes out of the box. Reference is my second choice except when viewing sports.
Due to the nature of ultra-short-throw projectors and ultra-short-throw projection screens in rooms with uncontrolled ambient light sources, these projectors are going to look massively better than their counterparts. But, If you have to crank up the brightness in order to compensate for ambient light, then the best choice for non-HDR content is the Bright mode which results in a cooler or blue highlighted image. With a rated brightness of up to 3,000 ANSI lumens, modes like HDR Sim make the image more dynamic offering a more accurate color and cooler tones than the P2 Bright mode. The Game mode is almost as bright as Bright mode, and I think it has the best color of all the higher light output modes. For anything else, there is a programmable User mode.
In general, Optoma projectors tend to come the closest to the high-end projectors that I’ve had the chance to use. By high-end, I mean in the $10,000 price range. I’m not saying Optoma projectors look as good as these $10,000 ones, but compared to others in their price point and class, Optoma projectors look really good.
You’ve probably heard this from various reviews, but I should point out, again, that DLP projectors tend to lean heavily toward red tones. Optoma color science engineers have been hitting home runs making their projectors produce more accurate skin tones, so people do not end up looking like Oompa Loompas. That’s a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference. See the picture below.
Skin tones on the Optoma P2 look more natural, less and less overblown. Optoma manages to pull this off without sacrificing the other color ranges. Skin tones look reasonably balanced.
No matter how you cut it, the “out-of-the-box” skin tones and overall picture performance of the Optoma CinemaX P2 are excellent.
The Optoma P2 Laser TV is an ultra-short throw projector, making it a challenge to measure brightness. The numbers came were inconclusive.
For years we described home theater projectors that anything above 1500 ANSI lumens was fine for viewing content on a large screen in a dark room. However HDR (High Dynamic Range) content can benefit from more brightness than the good old Standard Dynamic Range, which was the best we watched until HDR came along.
Optoma claims the P2 displays 3000 ANSI lumens of brightness. Based on my experience with other Optoma DLP projectors I expect results to measure around that claim. As with most projectors when the P2 is set to one of its most accurate picture modes, you do lose a good amount of brightness, which is fine when critical viewing in a dark room.
In my opinion, the CinemaX P2 has a good-looking color balance to start except when you are in the brighter modes like BRIGHTNESS. There is a slight color shift when I got close to 100%. It is by no means horrible, but it is slightly visible to my eye. But that’s enough to make a difference in skin tones.
BLACK SHADOW AND DETAIL
Here’s how Optoma describes Dynamic Black Technology on its projectors.
“This feature (Dynamic Black) gives more depth to your image by smoothly adjusting the lamp output to create a stunning high contrast ratio. Bright scenes appear crisp and clear, while dark scenes remain detailed with deep blacks and exceptional light and shade detail.”
The CinemaX P2 black levels were better than average and certainly far better than projectors that use lamps for a light source. That said, the CinemaX P2 black levels are not even close to the black levels created by SCRD or LCoS-based projectors with a Dynamic Iris. In the realm of DLP projectors, the P2 black level is good. Certainly, you can differentiate the parts of the image that are blacker.
Optoma uses Dynamic Black to improve black levels, but in truth, I found the image a little too harsh with it on, and I found myself just turning the feature off.
The P2 dark shadow detail is excellent, especially when the brightness is set up correctly. Shadow Detail is very good, and cranking up the brightness reveals virtually everything just above black.
The P2 performed well when projecting dark scenes, especially in scenes from Justice League in HDR. The Optoma P2 projector’s black levels are perfectly acceptable for most in the typical home theater space. If you are an enthusiast with more control over your environment, you may want more. If you do, then you can bet it is going to cost more!
The P2 improves its overall contrast by 500,000 lumens versus its predecessor, the P1.
I want to be careful when I talk about input lag on the OptomaX P2. Let me start by saying that Optoma has definitely improved the gaming performance of the P2 over its previous model, the P1. However, the addition of a “Gaming mode” only enhances the input lag from 55 ms to 50 ms. Not a night and day performance improvement.
The Optoma CinemaX P2 is not so much a gaming projector as it is a home theater projector capable of playing games. You can certainly “get your gun on” with any of the modern PlayStation or Xbox first-person shooting games and even PC games, but I think you’re going to find you have a much better experience when you’re doing casual gaming. 50 ms input lag is more than good enough for the average gamer. Still, when you compare the P2 to other Optoma gaming projectors with 16.2-millisecond input lag or even 4.2-millisecond input lag, you will likely come to the same conclusion I reached. The Optoma CinemaX P2 has more than an acceptable level of performance for gaming… just not for a hardcore game experience.
Below are images of a variety of videos and photos in 4K and HD resolution. Like all our photos, they remain unadjusted for color, so they do not look as good as those the projector produced.
Today we are incredibly lucky when it comes to high-quality content available from a wide range of content providers. I chose to use various 4K and HD content from both streaming platforms like Disney+ and HBO Max, which feature many movies in 4K HDR. Even though most available scripted content is still produced in high definition and is likely to continue being produced in HD for years to come, good 4K upscaling will continue to be important. This projector’s upscaling is excellent. Whether I was watching 720p sports content or 1080p Blu-ray content, it all looked very good.
Using a wide variety of content in standard and high definition, the Optoma CinemaX P2 did an outstanding job of upscaling to display in 4K. In a lot of cases, it was hard to tell if I was looking at a 4K movie playing on HBO Max or an HD movie playing on Disney+, upscaled to 4K. Images from Blu-ray were slightly more crisp with fewer compression artifacts while still providing a lot of detail that you do not see on smaller displays. YouTube content looked good with my high-speed internet connection, a must for viewing Youtube content. The Optoma CinemaX P2 does an excellent job with a variety of streamed content from standard definition, all the way up to 4K Ultra HD. It’s a good choice for a home theater projector that will function as your central home entertainment device.
The CinemaX P2 reproduces better bass than the best gaming projectors I’ve reviewed. I hooked up an awful powered sub-woofer from my time as a Sony product manager, and it still made an already good sound experience that much better. The P2 alone has some low-end punch but even hooking up this sub-par Sony made a difference.
I think most people will be pleased with the sound the P2 provides. Action movies kick butt. Although it won’t set your teeth to vibrating, the P2 still provides powerful mid-bass.
The music vocals were good. Rock music…rocked. I am not saying it is a match for a high-end sound system, but it handles the audio better than other projectors in its price point.
Using the Digital Optical Output provides support for Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus, so you can feed a full-blown sound system. HDMI ARC is supported via HDMI 1, which supports Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus, and ATMOS pass through.
The sound system of the Optoma CinemaX P2 is versatile in terms of audio capabilities. It does an excellent job drawing you into the entertainment experience rather than being a distraction like a typical projector’s built-in sound.
The Optoma CinemaX P2 is a quiet projector. The fan noise is relatively low; I found it only noticeable in my lab when the content got quiet. If there is silence coming from the content, and the room is quiet, you might hear it.
The Optoma does not have any issue with audible noise from fans and the color wheel…
The Optoma CinemaX P2 is a quieter projector than most, and audible noise is a non-issue, in my opinion.