Best in Class – Under $1000 Special 4K Capable Home Theater: AAXA 4K1

August 29, 2019 / By Jennifer Stringfellow
front view 4K1

AAXA’s 4K1 is a large “pocket projector.” By the usual standards, a projector is considered to be a pocket projector when it weighs only a few pounds, has solid state light engine (usually LED), and most typically uses DLP technology, as well as being fairly small and portable. What makes the AAXA 4K1 really stand out, though, is that it launched in the US as the least expensive 4K capable projector out there, with its list price of just $999.

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AAXA 4K1 Overview

Overall, I count this projector as home entertainment, not the higher-end or more image-quality performance of home theater projectors. Typically, pocket projectors are not bright – usually offering 300 to 750 lumens, 1,000 tops. This AAXA, on the other hand, claims a very impressive 1,500 lumens – if only it delivered. The projector measured at max brightness, almost half of claim – only 720 lumens in what it calls “Boost” mode, a mode others might call full power, Bright mode, etc.

Despite the lower lumen count, the 4K1 came across as brighter than the lumen count would have you think. Some of that is due to the optical effect associated with solid state light engines like LED. If you are “into” that, check out Dave’s full review of the 4K1. Dave’s the former and long time product manager at the recently defunct InFocus – once the United States’ largest projector manufacturer. He’s got to know and understand those finer points.

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We have found most pocket type and pico type projectors to produce far less lumens than they claim (unfortunately), but let’s just say that the 4K1 is about as bright as we would have expected it to be, based on what it is, not what the brochure claims. So, let’s be happy with the brightness delivered, since that is typical or slightly better than many non 4K competitors. The 4K capability certainly sets it apart from anything else anywhere near as small – at least at this time. More 4K pocket projectors will be coming, from a few manufacturers.

The 4K1 is nicely sharp – the modest 1.20:1 range of the zoom lens lets them provide some reasonable optics (you can’t put lousy optics on a 4K capable projector) for the projector, while also not adding bulk or weight. A longer zoom range would require a more expensive lens to get the same quality. One very interesting, “nice touch,” is electronic focus!

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One negative relates to gamers – its roughly 90 ms input lag is considered SLOW by hardcore gamers. Not a great choice, and it can’t fully support the new 4K 60fps games. The 4K1, when we first brought it in, I felt had the potential for a Hot Product Award, primarily for its 4K capability (not its claimed brightness), and some other features. 4K capable under $1000 list! There are a few issues, though – the 4K capability is only up to 30fps, not 60fps. That puts it in the company of a lot of 4K capable projectors from the first gen – say two years ago. Not a terrible thing, but, 4K gamers are looking for both 60fps and HDR. Speaking of which:

The other noteworthy 4K issue is that the 4K1 does not support HDR, only Standard Definition. 

Overall, with a little ambient light in the room, I recommend using Standard Mode with Normal brightness in the room. If the room is fully darkened, go with Standard and Eco. Save Boost (very noisy fan) for when you have too much ambient light – as color isn’t as good.

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The Bottom Line

The 4K1 produces a reasonably sharp image (a little edge softness – expected). Out of the box color definitely needs improvement. Unfortunately, we rarely calibrate an under $1000 projectors and didn’t do this one, but it has color controls so that I expect that those who want even better color can get it out of this projector.

It’s got a media player built in too. The 2-watt speaker system provides basic sound but you can output the audio to a larger system. Brightness is fine for a large image in a dark room, despite the small size of the 4K1. That 700 plus lumens we measured at “Boost” brightness (full power), translates this way: To fill a typical 100” diagonal screen in a darkened room (i.e. a movie theater or your own cave) is only about 450 lumens. The extra lumens available lets you tackle some ambient light.

Overall, an impressive small portable projector with basic 4K capabilities. Most 4K capable projectors today can support 60fps and HDR, but if you want really portable and lightweight, none are as small or light. The AAXA 4K1 is an innovative projector with its 4K capabilities from a pocket and pico projector manufacturer that, from our experience, produces a number of impressive small projectors. It isn’t as fully supporting of the latest in 4K, but you won’t find anything right now, that does 4K with HDR that sells for as little as this AAXA.

Nice projector – would love to see HDR added, in a future model, or (however unlikely) via a firmware upgrade. Get your tote bag and take it with you!

Get the AAXA 4K1 projector on Amazon!

AAXA 4K1 Review

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