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Optoma has a reputation for delivering high-quality projectors, and the Optoma UHD38 is no exception. With its focus on gaming and impressive specifications, the UHD38 is a projector that gamers should definitely consider. In this detailed review, we’ll take a deep dive into the features, design, and performance of the Optoma UHD38, and discuss whether it’s the right projector for you.
Design: Compact and Functional
The Optoma UHD38 boasts a sturdy build, making it an ideal choice for casual, living room setups. Despite its compact size, the projector manages to deliver an impressive 4000 ANSI Lumens of brightness. The accompanying remote is both compact and comfortable to hold, with backlit buttons that make it easy to use in the dark.
One minor design flaw, however, is the heavy grilling on each side, which allows some light to spill out. This can be distracting if the projector’s sides are in your line of view. Additionally, the placement of the input ports on the back of the projector may make cable management a challenge for some users.
Gaming Features: Built for Performance
The Optoma UHD38 is packed with features that cater specifically to gamers. It offers a very low input lag – just 16.7ms with 4K/HD 60Hz sources, and even lower with 1080p 120Hz or 240Hz sources. This makes it an excellent choice for gamers who need fast response times.
The UHD38 also supports high refresh rates and a 32:9 aspect ratio for some first-person shooter titles. However, it’s worth noting that the HDMI ports only support 4K games at up to 60Hz, and there’s no support for variable refresh rates. The lack of support for HDMI 2.1 may be a deal-breaker for some gamers who want to take advantage of the latest gaming consoles’ capabilities.
Brightness and Contrast: Striking a Balance
With a claimed 4000 lumens of brightness, the Optoma UHD38 is designed to handle HDR content and deliver vibrant images even in rooms with some ambient light. However, this focus on brightness can sometimes compromise the projector’s black level response and contrast ratio. The UHD38’s Dynamic Black feature is claimed to deliver a theoretical contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, but in real life, the contrast and black levels may not be as impressive.
To strike a better balance between brightness and contrast, users can try various preset image modes, such as Cinema and Game modes. Additionally, the projector has a built-in ISF calibration mode, which allows professional calibration for improved image quality.
HDR and Color Quality: A Mixed Bag
The Optoma UHD38 supports standard HDR10 and HLG HDR formats, but struggles to deliver convincing dark scenes, often appearing washed out and gray. On the other hand, bright HDR images are exceptionally vibrant, with rich colors and a wide color range.
While the projector’s shallow black levels are more noticeable during movie watching, they become less of an issue when gaming. The focus on brightness and rich colors works well for gaming, making the projector’s images appear more vivid and engaging.
Image Sharpness and Clarity: Impressive for the Price
The Optoma UHD38 delivers sharp and detailed images with native 4K game and video sources. While it doesn’t quite match the performance of native 4K projectors like Sony’s SXRD models, it’s still impressive for a projector in its price range. The projector uses pixel shifting technology to produce 8.3 million pixels, resulting in excellent image clarity.
Moreover, the UHD38 offers various settings to further enhance image sharpness, such as the UltraDetail feature. This allows users to fine-tune the level of detail and sharpness, ensuring the best possible image quality for their specific content and preferences.
Sound Quality: Decent Built-in Audio
The built-in 10W speaker system provides decent audio quality for a projector, offering clear and detailed sound without the usual dislocation from on-screen images. However, it does lack bass and dynamism, so you may want to consider using an external sound system for a more immersive audio experience.
Setup and Ease of Use: User-Friendly
Setting up the Optoma UHD38 is fairly straightforward, with a 1.3x zoom lens and both vertical and horizontal keystone adjustments to help you achieve the desired image size and alignment. The on-screen menu system is easy to navigate, offering a wide range of options for customizing the image and audio settings.
The UHD38 is also compatible with a variety of mounting options, such as ceiling and rear projection, providing flexibility for different room configurations.
Pros and Cons
- Low input lag and fast response times, perfect for gamers
- High brightness, allowing for use in rooms with ambient light
- Vibrant colors and impressive image clarity for its price range
- Compact and functional design, suitable for living room setups
- User-friendly setup and menu system
- Subpar black levels and contrast performance
- Limited HDR performance, particularly in dark scenes
- HDMI ports only support 4K games up to 60Hz, no HDMI 2.1 support
- Built-in speakers lack bass and dynamism
Optoma UHD38 VS UHD38X: The differences between the two projectors might be subtle, but they are significant depending on the user’s preferences and requirements. Both projectors offer high picture quality and responsiveness suited for gamers, as well as a powerful lamp for lights-on viewing.
The Optoma UHD38 has an edge in gaming performance, particularly for 4K gaming, as it maintains a low input lag for higher-resolution games. This allows users to play the latest releases from current-generation consoles without any issues. In terms of image quality, the Optoma UHD38 also takes the lead, with a wider color gamut that offers more subtle color shading and enhanced realism.
On the other hand, the Optoma UHD38X has an advantage when it comes to installation ease. With its full 4-corner correction feature, it supports off-center installations, providing users with more flexibility during setup.
In conclusion, the Optoma UHD38 is a better option for gamers who seek 4K gaming capabilities and superior image quality. However, the Optoma UHD38X is the more suitable choice for users who require easier installation and setup options. Carefully considering the specific needs of your home setup will help you decide which projector is the best fit.
Optoma UHD38X VS UHD50X: Both projectors are versatile, user-friendly, and provide great value for money. However, the UHD38 has an edge in terms of overall performance for gaming and home theater. That being said, the UHD50X is also a strong performer and may be the better choice for some users.
The UHD38 has a brighter lamp (4,000 lumens) compared to the UHD50X (3,400 lumens), making it a better choice for rooms with large windows or outdoor use. In terms of gaming performance, the UHD38 has a significantly lower input lag (4ms) compared to the UHD50X (25ms), providing a more responsive gaming experience. Although the UHD50X has a longer throw distance and easier installation with lens shift and a wider zoom range, the UHD38 boasts better 3D support, playing multiple 3D formats directly from HDMI-connected devices.
Ultimately, while the Optoma UHD38 is generally the better value with its lower input lag and brighter lamp, the UHD50X has its own advantages in color performance and installation ease, making it a better option for some users. Your choice between the two projectors will depend on your specific needs and the characteristics of your viewing space.
The Optoma UHD38 is a strong choice for gamers who prioritize low input lag, high refresh rates, and vibrant colors. Its impressive brightness and color performance make it a suitable option for users who want an immersive gaming experience on the big screen, even in rooms with some ambient light.
While its black level and contrast performance may not be ideal for movie enthusiasts, the projector’s gaming-focused features and overall image quality make it a worthwhile investment for gamers. If you’re looking for a gaming projector with a competitive price point, the Optoma UHD38 should definitely be on your shortlist.
However, if you’re more interested in watching movies or you’re a gamer who wants to take full advantage of the latest gaming consoles’ capabilities with HDMI 2.1, you might want to explore other options on the market. Ultimately, the Optoma UHD38 is a well-rounded projector that excels in gaming performance but falls slightly short in other areas.
Who Should Buy Optoma UHD38?
- Gamers: Gamers will appreciate the low input lag, high refresh rates, and vibrant colors that the Optoma UHD38 offers. Its gaming-focused features make it ideal for those who want to enjoy their favorite titles on a large screen without compromising on performance.
- Casual Home Theater Users: The Optoma UHD38 is suitable for users who primarily watch TV shows, sports, or content with bright visuals, as its high brightness ensures a clear and vivid image even in rooms with some ambient light.
- Budget-conscious Buyers: If you’re looking for a projector with good overall performance at a competitive price, the Optoma UHD38 is a worthy option. It offers a decent balance of features and image quality without breaking the bank.
Who Shouldn’t Buy Optoma UHD38?
- Movie Enthusiasts: If you’re a movie buff who values deep black levels and high contrast ratios for a more cinematic experience, the Optoma UHD38 may not meet your expectations. Its subpar black levels and contrast performance might make it less appealing for film enthusiasts.
- Users Seeking Advanced HDR Performance: The Optoma UHD38’s limited HDR performance could be a deal-breaker for those who prioritize exceptional HDR capabilities in their projector. If you want to fully enjoy the benefits of HDR content, you might want to explore other options on the market.
- Gamers with Next-Gen Consoles: If you own a next-gen gaming console, such as the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, and you want to take full advantage of HDMI 2.1 features like 4K at 120Hz, the Optoma UHD38 may not be the best fit, as it only supports 4K up to 60Hz.