4K projector in the test: best UHD projectors for the home cinema

4K projector in the test

UHD projectors promise the best possible home theater enjoyment, although the native resolution of the devices is often lower than that advertised by the manufacturer. In our test we compare 4K projectors of different price ranges, check image sharpness as well as display quality and explain with which technical tricks the manufacturers work. What our test winner Acer VL7860 achieves, you can see in the video.

4K projector in the test: home theater on big screen

So-called UHD projectors are ideal companions for the evening home cinema experience, as they represent 4K films in more detail due to their high resolution than projects with full HD resolution. The home theater projectors we tested are also so powerful that they project a veritable picture onto the shaded screen, even in a bright environment, making them suitable for the presentation of sports events. Nevertheless, their devices only exploit their full potential in the dull home cinema.

In particular, the pseudo UHD presentation, which all devices with a trick hinbekommen, we were pleasantly surprised. The bank sees a clear improvement in all candidates compared to the Full HD projection, both in the detail sharpness and in the contrast dynamics and color gamut.

However, they are not quite up to the color brilliance of an OLED TV, for example. The majority of the devices provide 84% to 85% of the DCI-P3 gamut relevant to HDR movies, and Epson and BenQ only 74%. However, they make up for this deficiency by sheer image size. So the test field in terms of image quality is very close together. Test winner Acer VL 7860 scored the title of overall winner only a hair’s breadth, mainly because of its slightly better energy efficiency.

UHD projection using wobbly images
Native UHD projectors, as they are in the cinema, are big and expensive. For home cinema projectors, the developers of JVC have therefore come up with a cheap trick that now copy other manufacturers: In the beam path between DLP chip or LCD panel and lens they put a vibrating glass. Each image is thus additionally projected diagonally by half a pixel, both perceived together by the sluggish eye as a quasi-UHD image.

JVC calls this technique 4K E-Shift. The manufacturers of DLP devices commonly speak of XPR shift and LCD projector manufacturer Epson calls it 4K enhancement.

It is an open question whether the label “native UHD” is justified for this trick, with which almost all manufacturers advertise. After all, DLP also uses the color mixing of the inertia of our eyes. In any case, the gain in resolution is clearly visible. Projectors with a native resolution of 2,716 x 1,528 pixels are particularly successful, because here a shift to doubling to UHD is sufficient. UHD projectors that work natively with Full HD resolution expand their pixel field by only a quarter with a shift.

4K projector in the test - optical scheme

An optical actuator in the beam path shifts the pixel grid by half the diagonal and thus creates for the eye the impression of a UHD resolution.


Laser diodes instead of high pressure lamps

Acer and Optoma, the top two in our beamers test, no longer produce their light conventionally with high-pressure lamps, but with laser diodes. Unlike professional devices, they do not directly project three RGB laser beams onto the screen. They work with blue laser diodes, which, similar to LED bulbs, produce a white mixed light, which then goes through the usual DLP optics.

Surprisingly, this technique does not translate into more economical energy consumption. Although both manufacturers do not give a longer lamp warranty, it is expected that this type of lighting last much longer than high-pressure lamps. In particular, it should better tolerate frequent on and off switching. Although we could not measure this in the test, the luminous flux of the LED construction is likely to remain more stable in the long term than with conventional lamp technology – the light color remains the same.

Acer VL7860

Our test winner Acer VL7860 uses laser projection technology and produces a first-class picture.

But no matter what lamp technology they work with, the projectors will get warm either way. Due to the compact design, the size of the required fans is limited – and small ones make more noise. As long as the sound is running, nothing is heard from them, only in quiet movie passages should one not sit next to the Acer or Epson directly next to the projector. Also owed to the design is the quality of the speakers, all of which have been integrated except the Epson. You can not expect more than understandable message tone here. Price Tip ViewSonic is with its ten watts by far the loudest, test winner Acer despite its five watts the quietest.

Also, setting up the beamer is always a tricky thing. Ceiling and rear projection dominate them all. Except ViewSonic and BenQ make it easier for anyone to align the screen with real optical lens shift in horizontal as well as vertical direction, Also keep them all ready for this purpose in the menu at least one lattice test image. Only if it does not work out at all, you should use the also offered by all keystone correction. This function inevitably degrades the resolution.

Test winner: Acer VL7860

The Acer VL7860 is one of the most compact UHD projectors in the test . Also in terms of display quality convinced the 4K projector across the board. In all our categories, the Acer VL7860 achieved top scores. Particularly the image quality with interpolated 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels with XPR technology), high contrast and HDR support convinced us in the test.

For a price of around 4,000 euros , he is not a bargain, but for a high-end projector with this equipment and performance, the price is just fine.

Price Tip: ViewSonic PX747-4K

For around 1,000 euros you get the ViewSonic PX747-4K, which achieves a good overall result. In particular, the image quality with a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and 4K upscaling convinced us in the test . The PX747-4K also makes an excellent figure in a bright environment, as it is currently our brightest tested projector with 3,061 lumens. Only with the equipment and the energy efficiency one must make compromises. Compared with the other tested 4K projectors, the ViewSonic is a bit worse off here.

To get a better idea of ​​the variety of 4K projectors, we have tested some for you and put them together in our leader board:

Final rating of the 4K projector in 2018

1. Acer VL7860

Acer VL7860

Price: $3800

2. Optoma UHZ65

Price: $4300

3. Epson EH-TW9300W

Epson EH-TW9300W

Price: $3200

4. Optoma UHD550X

Optoma UHD550X

Price: $4700

5. Acer V9800

Acer V9800

Price: $3400

6. Viewsonic PX747-4K

Viewsonic PX747-4K

Price: $999

7. Benq W1700 4K projector

Benq W1700 4K projector

Price: $1100

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