Optoma UHD35 Gaming Projector Review-Performance

May 19, 2021 / By Philip Boyle

Optoma UHD35 Cinema Gaming Projector Review – Performance: Color Reproduction, Brightness, Contrast and Black Level, Audible Noise, Video Quality, HDR, Sound Quality, Audible Noise.

COLOR REPRODUCTION

Cinema: Based on my previous reviews, I’ve come to expect manufacturers to use Cinema mode to make overall color performance the most realistic. I was critical of the UHD50X’s exaggerated colors. Now, I don’t know if Optoma has tuned this model differently, or if it’s something else, but, to my eye, the colors are not as oversaturated in all the modes. I’m not saying they are not oversaturated; they are just not as bad. Good on you, Optoma.

HDR Sim: Colors are vibrant in this mode. However, not quite as much as Cinema mode. Flesh tones appear more natural overall. Images are a little brighter. The tendency of a DLP projector to lean toward reds is still noticeable here, but much less so than in Cinema mode.

Game: This mode is almost identical to HDR Sim, except that details are softer. This mode maintains the same soft image as the previously described Game mode, but with colors that are slightly less oversaturated than Cinema mode. It looks to me like Optoma was trying to find a happy medium between the two modes. I still think colors in this mode are unnaturally orangey/red.

Bright: This is what you would expect to find in a mode designed for situations where uncontrolled ambient light sources normally reduce image quality.

I'm sure you all know the purpose of Bright mode is to overcompensate for uncontrolled ambient light in the room for the sake of sacrificing color accuracy. That description fits this mode well. It’s a pleasant surprise that the Optoma UHD35 manages to maintain the color quality that it does in this mode.

User: Designed to be whatever you want it to be, User mode provides the opportunity to adjust the colors and picture settings without changing the out-of-the-box presets of the other modes. That being said, User mode looks very similar to HDR Sim mode. From a strictly color standpoint, I liked it quite a bit. User mode takes on the softer image detail that we see in Game mode.

I think Optoma has done a better job this generation with the out-of-the-box preset modes. They’re not perfect, by any means. The UHD35 preset modes still present exaggerated colors, but the UHD35 displays a crisp image, and the OTB modes on the 35 are very good. They’re still just a bit oversaturated, but I think most consumers are going to find this pleasant.

In the slideshow below, I took several stills in a variety of modes, using a variety of content, to show the difference between the preset modes. The first two stills are from Marvel's Thor Ragnarok. Cinema mode colors are moderately oversaturated. Skin tones lean heavily toward red and orange; it is a DLP after all. The third picture is from Godzilla vs. Kong, in Bright mode, where colors take on a bluish-green hue. This mode wouldn’t be used in an environment like my lab where I have far better control of ambient light.

For anyone who agrees with my expectations regarding color saturation, the good news is you have the same option to adjust to a more neutral output with a few simple tweaks to color and gamma. Do this, and the Optoma goes from being a really good projector to one of the best at its price point. It even punches above its weight at times. Also, consider that you are getting a 4K projector at a similar price point to most of the competition’s 1080p projectors. The Optoma UHD35 can, and does, produce accurate color, especially compared to many equivalently priced DLP projectors.

BRIGHTNESS

The Optoma UHD35 is a bright projector. First, the standard projector review’s disclaimer... I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens, which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI Lumens. At full wide-angle, I measured the Optoma UHD35 in its brightest picture mode, Bright, with the lamp power set to Bright.

Optoma UHD35 Brightness: 3,670 Lumens

At wide-zoom, Bright mode, the Optoma UHD35 measured 3,670 Lumens. Optoma exceeded its rated brightness of 3,600 Lumens, and it shows. I measured all available OTB preset modes at wide-zoom, and my measurements are below.

My measurements found a roughly 30% drop going from full power (labeled Bright), down to ECO mode. Many projectors drop 25% to 35% when switching into their Eco mode.

The Optoma UHD35 has three lamp modes, Dynamic, ECO, and Bright. This means it will measure nearer Bright mode when it’s fed white for measurement. The UHD35 uses TI’s Dynamic Black, which is a plus.

CONTRAST AND BLACK LEVEL

Optoma has done a really good job making sure that blacks do look more black on the UHD35. You can see what I mean in the slideshow above. You'll see that blacks are clean, and you can also see a decent amount of contrast in the images, which allows details in the darker areas to be viewed.

VIDEO QUALITY

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 don’t look as good as those the projector produced.

I was able to find a wide variety of streaming content available in 4K HDR because Disney+ and HBO Max have both begun streaming a variety of movies in 4K HDR. The majority of available, scripted content is still produced in High Definition, and since it’s likely to be 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.

Streaming and HDTV

I watched a wide range of content, both Standard and High Definition. The Optoma UHD35 does a more than acceptable job of upscaling HD content to 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 don't see on smaller displays. YouTube content played really well. The Optoma UHD35 does an excellent job with a variety of streamed content from Standard Definition, all the way up to 4K Ultra HD. This makes it a good choice for a home theater projector that's also going to function as the core home entertainment device.

SOUND QUALITY

The UHD35 has a 10-watt internal speaker. The built-in speaker is a mono speaker which I think is a miss from Optoma for a gaming projector. Competitors like BenQ offer built-in stereo sound in their gaming projector. A mono speaker can’t give you the immersive sound that a stereo-based sound system can. When it came to the overall sound quality, the UHD35 speaker sounded like it got better than the Optoma UHD50X that I recently reviewed. The built-in speaker still has a limited dynamic range while the majority of the audio range is mid and treble, but Optoma has managed to squeeze some mid bass from the speaker. Also, the volume increases more uniformly. I also noticed far less clipping than in my previous review.

I still think Optoma, and other projector manufacturers, need to take notice and realize that a really good-looking picture, which this projector does have, is only half the equation. Optoma could have done a better job with the sound, taking into account that a gaming projector is often taken from location to location and has to depend on the built-in audio of the projector. Optoma improved the mono speaker experience, but really, who cares? It’s 2021, and a gaming projector should have a stereo sound system, at a minimum.

AUDIBLE NOISE

Nothing has changed from my UHD50X review. Optoma lists the UHD35 fan noise as 26db in ECO mode, which is pretty quiet, but here’s the rub. Put the projector in Bright mode, and the noise level goes well above 30db. The reason I don’t have a number for anything but ECO mode is that Optoma just took it off the product spec sheet. Let's just say that it becomes very noticeable, especially during quiet scenes. When I turned on the Dynamic Black mode, I found the increase in fan noise to be distracting at times.

Here’s another welcome improvement in the UHD35. The distortion that was being reproduced in silent or low audio moments is gone. Awesome, Optoma! No clicks, pops, and squelch noises. Just the audio you are meant to hear.

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