4K projector recommendation

Mihai4378

Novice Member
My needs: I want to buy a 4K projector to see movies, etc... (wanna be able to use it also during the day).
Price range - not important. Price/performance important. I don’t want to pay for a 5% difference 20% extra just to consider myself a purist.
Context:
I have a big white wall painted with paint suitable for projection (from projector-screen-paint.com). So no fancy screens.
I have a Yamaha AV receiver - so, while I’ll appreciate good speakers on the projector, they aren’t mandatory.

Want to have - long lamp/laser life - will have to last 3 years and will be used also for Netflix binging (the average will be under 2-3 hours/day)
Want to have - big picture without big distortions - in the vicinity of 150 in.
Nice to have - low noise.
Nice to have - short throw.

Was looking to the Xiaomi 4K laser but don’t know their reliability and also don’t know when is the next model due.
Please advise.
 

razy60

Well-known Member
There's a few more things to consider, where are you looking to locate the PJ? On the ceiling, in front of you, how big is the room?
Is the room blacked out(dark ceiling and walls) what natural light is there? Do you have blackout blinds?
Not many pj's have a decent speaker so it would be best if you had speakers or a soundbar.
That's all I can think of so far.
 

Mihai4378

Novice Member
PJ on a table near me or (better) on a small table near the wall in case it has a short throw. Room is with light, normal blinds. I have a Yamaha Receiver with a 5 speakers setup (didn’t put the ‘+1’ one ‘cos the front speakers give enough bass).
 

Luminated67

Well-known Member
@Mihai4378 your problem is proper traditional projectors that throw a good image and are 4K compatible are generally large, larger than you might consider suitable for a table and more importantly once set up you don’t want to move them again which is why ceiling mount is most common.

This sounds like ideally you are looking an UST projector that can sit close to the wall. All that I have seen reviews on seem to throw a crisp enough image but all lack decent black levels, this might not bother you and to be honest unless you have a room with dark walls and ceiling you wouldn’t get great blacks anyway.

I haven’t followed the UST stuff that much to say which is best but most of the ones I have read about seem to be design to throw an image up to 120” but not beyond, maybe they all can but you’d need to check this out.

If you want to go conventional projector then maybe the Epson TW7400 or 9400 might suit your needs, the 9400 is the better machine and more future proof as it does 4K 60Hz HDR so all streaming units are covered and it’s not too dear so will allow you to get a decent ALR screen so definitely meets your brief of getting most of the performance of the best without the price.
 

noob0101

Member
No matter what screen and projector combination there is, it cannot fight ambient light if the image is not bright. Where the image gets darker is where the projector is not sending light, so ambient light takes over.

Even if the room would have no ambient light, reflections from the walls will have a negative impact on contrast and black levels. Example:


I don't know what kind of screen paint that is. Is it grey, what shade?


A screen size should only be chosen after the projector has been used for a few weeks on a wall.
A very general ratio is 10-12" in diagonal for ever foot in distance.


As Luminated said, some of these projectors can be fairly large (even regular living room models). Depending where they are placed they might require to have some lens shift, but short/small throw units generally don't have lens shift.
Also UST's are generally limited at 120". Some of these UST's can be very expensive and inferior in picture quality to a model in the same price range.

What is the seating distance and room length?

Color of walls?

Will there be any ambient light? If yes from where?

Can blackout blinds be installed on the windows?
Can the room be treated, with dark paint for instance?

Can the projector be installed in the ceiling?
 

ask4me2

Active Member
The UST projectors i have tried (positioned under the projected picture) typical have a tendency to light up the ceiling much more than "normal" throw projectors.
The short trow and steep projection angle also make the flatness of the projected surface very important, if not perfectly flat, the geometry of the picture will be distorted.
Not all walls are flat enough. UST projectors shod therefore be used together with a screen that is flat and have the more suited UST directional light reflection than a typical painted surface or an unity gain screen.
 

Mihai4378

Novice Member
I don't know what kind of screen paint that is. Is it grey, what shade?

What is the seating distance and room length?

Color of walls?

Will there be any ambient light? If yes from where?

Can blackout blinds be installed on the windows?
Can the room be treated, with dark paint for instance?

Can the projector be installed in the ceiling?
Screen paint and wall color - white (the screen wall was painted first and the paint for the rest of the room matched in color
Room length approx 5 meters (17 feet).
Seating distance up to the room length.
wall used as screen approx 5x2.7 meter (16 by 9 feet).
Light comes from left side - a wall that is more than half windows.
Difficult to install projector on ceiling.
No chance to paint walls in different colors.
Blackout blinds (actually drapes ) can be installed if they lead to big difference. But the idea is to be able to use the projector also as TV during the day. The blinds would be used only for better cinema experience.
But is this info necessary just to give an opinion which projector would be the best for these conditions?
Is the amount of good projectors to choose from so big?
 

noob0101

Member
Screen paint and wall color - white (the screen wall was painted first and the paint for the rest of the room matched in color
Room length approx 5 meters (17 feet).
Seating distance up to the room length.
wall used as screen approx 5x2.7 meter (16 by 9 feet).
Light comes from left side - a wall that is more than half windows.
Difficult to install projector on ceiling.
No chance to paint walls in different colors.
Blackout blinds (actually drapes ) can be installed if they lead to big difference. But the idea is to be able to use the projector also as TV during the day. The blinds would be used only for better cinema experience.
But is this info necessary just to give an opinion which projector would be the best for these conditions?
Is the amount of good projectors to choose from so big?
Not only is the amount of projectors not big enough, one that fits your requirements doesn't exist.


Per the ratio mentioned above, with the current setup the general screen size would be from 160" to 198".
That wall can have a screen up to 225" diagonal (16:9) format.

These might seem like large dimensions, but choosing a small screen is one of the major mistakes first time projectors users make.


I already explained above why ambient light and projectors don't work. If you want to watch without blackout blinds, move the seating closer (a lot closer) and get a TV. Projector based setups are for dark environments.

If you want to see how a projector + ALR screen behaves in different light scenarios here are a few examples:

What's noticeable is that images that are bright do better, but as soon as the image has some dark parts in it, it falls apart.

The white paper will behave similarly to a white/grey matte screen. Angular ALR screens like the one in the link work like a mirror, reflecting some of the ambient light in the other direction from which it came.

But angular ALR screens require the projector to be placed in a position that the light going out from the projector hits the screen at such an angle that it reaches the viewers position. A ceiling setup is preferable. You also can't put it on the side.

Angular ALR screens also must be placed at a certain distance from the screen to avoid visual artifacts. The hotspot (center more bright then the edges) visible in some of the bright pictures in the link above is due to the projector being too close.
Usually 1.9x throw ratio (screen width) is required for most, some (which are more expensive) can do ~1.5-1.6x.

If the total length of the distance between a projector installed in the ceiling as close to the wall as possible, and the screen is ~450cm, then the largest ALR screen without artifacts could be ~106" or 131" diagonal (with the better fabric).
An 131" screen in an ALR fabric that would not cause artifacts at ~1.5x will probably go over 5$K.

Proper paint mixes exist with good ALR properties and don't cost that much.

Angular ALR screens can have reduced brightness the further away from the center axis it's being viewed. For example a screen with a half angle of 40 degrees means that at 40 degrees the image is half as bright as when viewed from the center.
Half angles can be both vertical and horizontal. The smaller the half angle, the better the light fighting capabilities.


There are projectors with lens shift, but I don't know if the lens shift is enough for your setup. For instance, the TW9400:

At the bottom of the page, after inputting the screen diagonal there is a section called lens shift. Note that if both vertical and horizontal lens shift are used at the same time then the lens shift is limited.


If the walls can't be painted try a curtain system like in the facebook video. If not the blacks will be mediocre at best.


These are the limitations of a projection based setup.
 
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IWC Dopplel

Well-known Member
I think the OP needs to do a bit more reading and think through the plan. If you want an image capable of being watched in a light walled room with ambient light then you need something that doesn't exist.

Perhaps repurposing a professional PJ designed for a full size cinema might be okay, add the cost of the lens to manage through and the install, cooling etc. Be cheaper to move house and get a dedicated room I suspect.

You say price range not important but I am not sure you really mean that ? if you do then this is worth investigation Christie Eclipse true HDR RGB pure laser projector | Christie Audio Visual Solutions

With the Lumens range you might be able to get enough 'punch' for it to work, contrast is phenomenal so might be acceptable in your environment
 

Mihai4378

Novice Member
On one side I understand all your arguments and I’ll rethink some things like adding black drapes. On the other side there are many advertisements for (mainly Chinese) laser projectors that they can be used also as TV without being disturbed a lot by environmental conditions. They start advertising this from 1500 ANSI lumens. For a projector boasting 3000 ANSI lumens (or 9000 Chinese lumens) there are even some reviews stating they needed to lower the brightness in a normal room (no drapes, not night ).
Should I conclude that all these reviews are BS?

Now, to reword my question:
If I decide to buy a 4K Fengmi projector to begin with and get used to the world of projectors, is it worth the price (around 2000 USD)?

Once I understand more about the world of projectors (1-3 years down the line) I’ll know better what I want.
 

Luminated67

Well-known Member
^What @IWC Dopplel is suggesting is ultimately the case but this is really only true is you are expecting the best image with the best possible blacks the projector can produce.

An ALR screen on these UST projectors will give you an acceptable image that will be very watchable, what it can’t do and never will is match a traditional TV’s blacks or colours with ambient light.

The problem you have at the moment is getting anywhere to go get a demo to see if it’s good enough and frankly throwing £2K plus an extra £1k for an ALR screen is a big gamble without seeing it in action.

Now if it’s purely down lighters or directional lights that aren’t too bright and shining towards the screen you will get a very acceptable image from an ALR screen from a projector with decent lumens. Here’s my normal white screen with just down lighters on and the same image with them off from my then Sony HW45.


 
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Mihai4378

Novice Member
Actually I don’t intend to buy a screen. I’ll project in a wall treated with (white) screen paint and invest in black drapes to be able to darken the room.
 

Luminated67

Well-known Member
Actually I don’t intend to buy a screen. I’ll project in a wall treated with (white) screen paint and invest in black drapes to be able to darken the room.
You should contact @MississippiMan about proper screen paint that actually works with ambient light, you’d be amazed by the results.

Every little bit you do improves the image you get, you’ll hear us talking about reducing reflection by use of velvet/velour covered walls and ceiling. The fact is that most of the improvements on contrast happens within the first 6ft. If you can’t do such a thing then choosing as dark a matt paint colour for your walls and if possible ceiling will do wonders.

One thing about all these UST projectors is they aren’t that great at producing blacks. So you might actually improve the image you see by painting the wall you intend to project on to a light grey screen paint as this will improve the perceived contrast.
 

IWC Dopplel

Well-known Member
The challenge you have with a projected image is the very fact that its projected and you are watching light bouncing of the surface, light unfortunately (in this situation) continues to bounce around and illuminates the screen area that didn't get illuminated with direct light.

When you see the difference reducing this reflected light makes you start the journey of noticing the dramatic improvement this makes to the picture and for very little investment in black things you get a big visual improvement. I guess it depends what your happy looking at and what you compromise
 

IWC Dopplel

Well-known Member
You can do a reasonable job converting a spare bedroom into a cinema room. We decided that a sofa bed in a reception was fine for the very are occasions we had a number of guests staying over. Or even sleep on the cinema room sofa !

Cinema room dark velvet-9513610.jpg
 

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noob0101

Member
On one side I understand all your arguments and I’ll rethink some things like adding black drapes. On the other side there are many advertisements for (mainly Chinese) laser projectors that they can be used also as TV without being disturbed a lot by environmental conditions. They start advertising this from 1500 ANSI lumens. For a projector boasting 3000 ANSI lumens (or 9000 Chinese lumens) there are even some reviews stating they needed to lower the brightness in a normal room (no drapes, not night ).
Should I conclude that all these reviews are BS?

Now, to reword my question:
If I decide to buy a 4K Fengmi projector to begin with and get used to the world of projectors, is it worth the price (around 2000 USD)?

Once I understand more about the world of projectors (1-3 years down the line) I’ll know better what I want.

That's marketing aka lies.

Any kind of projection setup will suffer from the same problems, because in the end light is still hitting a display surface. Where the image is not bright or dark that's where the projector is not sending any light. The avs link with the examples in different lightning scenarios with different types of projected images illustrates this well.
Some of the examples projected are a brighter image, and those do better, but how many movies are always bright?
For general purpose video the room needs to be dark.


The improvements that can be done in the room to help with the image, some of which you said are not possible:
painting the walls
black out curtains
recessed lights in the viewing area and not the screen area
some type of ALR screen / paint mix


Problems with a UST setup were described by @ask4me2.
Additionally as I mentioned the 120" that these units can do is too small from 450cm, IMO.


If you want to start in the projector world get an Epson TW650. It's bright and relatively cheap, and has a short throw, poor contrast/black level:

Stay away from lasers/led right now since they have just started appearing on the market and will be a while before any bugs are ironed out.
 

Roku2

Distinguished Member
Are there any laser UST projectors that support both 4K HDR10 and 3D?
 

Mihai4378

Novice Member
Sorry.
Budget: $1300 to $1900
I bought the Xiaomi Fengmi 4K. It is at the upper end of your budget.
Decodes HDR10. Supports 3D.

That being said, take into account the following:
Latest model (2020) looks like old model (2019) but apparently minimized some high pitch noise issues.

Decodes HDR10 - does not imply you see the difference. Now, I’m new to projectors, but I have a monitor that does HDR - on the monitor the difference with/without HDR is like night and day. No visible difference on the projected image, at least for me.

I did not test 3D signal - I’m still unsure which glasses to buy for the projector.

Forget about the apps on the projector - you’ll need an external source of signal (I wait for PS5 for this).
The reason is that both prime video and Netflix give errors. (You can find versions that work - will be for some time then will stop working - cat and mouse game).
‘The root cause appears to be that Amazon (and probably Netflix) decided that projecting on a wall is not “for personal use” and it’s against the terms of service. So to get consistent 4K - external source.
At the moment (june 2020) there is a prime video app that works in 1080p (didn’t test in 4K). And a Netflix app that allows you to login and stream 1-5 seconds before ending with error “server cannot be reached”.

So add an external source of signal to your budget. And if you decide to buy it - ask the seller to put English apps/menus and go on internet to find the hack to disable the remaining Chinese apps.
 

Roku2

Distinguished Member
I bought the Xiaomi Fengmi 4K. It is at the upper end of your budget.
Decodes HDR10. Supports 3D.

That being said, take into account the following:
Latest model (2020) looks like old model (2019) but apparently minimized some high pitch noise issues.

Decodes HDR10 - does not imply you see the difference. Now, I’m new to projectors, but I have a monitor that does HDR - on the monitor the difference with/without HDR is like night and day. No visible difference on the projected image, at least for me.

I did not test 3D signal - I’m still unsure which glasses to buy for the projector.

Forget about the apps on the projector - you’ll need an external source of signal (I wait for PS5 for this).
The reason is that both prime video and Netflix give errors. (You can find versions that work - will be for some time then will stop working - cat and mouse game).
‘The root cause appears to be that Amazon (and probably Netflix) decided that projecting on a wall is not “for personal use” and it’s against the terms of service. So to get consistent 4K - external source.
At the moment (june 2020) there is a prime video app that works in 1080p (didn’t test in 4K). And a Netflix app that allows you to login and stream 1-5 seconds before ending with error “server cannot be reached”.

So add an external source of signal to your budget. And if you decide to buy it - ask the seller to put English apps/menus and go on internet to find the hack to disable the remaining Chinese apps.
Thank you. So basically this is no different from my white Xiaomi Mi projector I bought in 2017? I thought by now we would have one of these projectors with actual HDR10 capability
 

noob0101

Member
HDR on projectors and TV/monitors is very different. There can be differences in color gamuts, but more importantly in brightness. Projectors can't reach the kind of nits required for HDR so they tone map the image to fit the projector's capabilities.

There is also no agreed upon standard, each manufacturer has it's own algorithm.
 

Roku2

Distinguished Member
HDR on projectors and TV/monitors is very different. There can be differences in color gamuts, but more importantly in brightness. Projectors can't reach the kind of nits required for HDR so they tone map the image to fit the projector's capabilities.

There is also no agreed upon standard, each manufacturer has it's own algorithm.
But does the HDR badge pops up on this projector when playing HDR content?
 

Roku2

Distinguished Member
From the point of view of the source it's a HDR capable device, so it send a HDR signal. What the projector does after that is something else.
Do you know if the HDR logo pops up om the upper right corner of the image when the projector detects content in HDR? All 4K HDR TVs and projectors do that usually
 

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