This week we reviewed the Optoma HD35UST HD1080p ultra short throw projector, paired with the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright (16:9) fixed frame projection screen. A lot of people dream about having a projector in their living room to enjoy movies and TV series on a big screen. Now, replacing your television with a projector is easy if you choose an ultra short throw projector. A major selling point put forward by manufacturers for these projectors is the possibility of projecting images directly onto a white wall.
This solution looks good on paper, but is it really feasible? We wanted to find out by testing the Optoma HD35UST projector, first with a white wall, then with a state-of-the-art projection screen: the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright (16:9). This screen features a technical canvas made specifically for projection in bright environments with a UST projector. This is the perfect opportunity to check just how useful such a screen is with a projector that is meant to replace a TV.
Optoma projector and Lumene screen review: presentation
Optoma HD35UST projector
The Optoma HD35UST ultra short throw projector is meant to be used during the day in a living room. It therefore provides a very high level of brightness, advertised at 3,600 lumens, to project a clear image without having to make the room dark. Or at least in theory…
This Optoma projector is characterized by its ultra-short throw, which enables it to project an image with a diameter of 2.5 m (100″) at a distance of less than 50 cm from the screen. Consequently, we were able to place it on our NorStone TV unit, underneath the projection screen and next to other audio-video devices (Android TV box and UHD 4K Blu-ray player). There are several benefits to a UST projector. The installation doesn’t require wall or ceiling mounts, or long cables to connect the projector to different sources. When gaming, there’s no risk of seeing players’ shadows on the screen as no-one is blocking the beam. Also, the noise of the projector’s ventilation isn’t as disturbing.
The Optoma HD35UST projector has two HDMI inputs (1.4a), 1 VGA input compatible with YPbPr and RVB, 1 VGA output, 1 composite video input, an Ethernet port, an RS-232C plug and two USB ports. One of the USB ports is powered to provide the current needed to power a wireless HDMI receiver (Optoma HD Cast Pro, for example) or a Google Chromecast Video.
Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright (16:9) projection screen.
The Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright (16:9) screen is meant to be used exclusively with an ultra short throw projector. Its canvas is designed specifically for daylight display thanks to Lumene Ambient Light Rejecting technology: a microstructured canvas entirely covered in a micro texture. This highly directional canvas essentially reflects the light beam emitted by the projector situated under the screen towards the spectators, limiting the amount of light reflected onto the walls and ceiling of the room. Also, the projection screen’s microstructure interacts with the ambient light coming from the walls and ceiling by reflecting it outside of the screen’s axis.
The Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright (16:9) projection screen comes unassembled. The cardboard box contains everything you need for assembly: instructions, a protective cloth to put on the floor, tools (a very pleasant surprise) and white gloves.
On paper, the Optoma HD35UST projector and Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright 240C screen combination seems promising, despite the level of brightness in our test room with its south-facing bay window and multiple LED spotlights!
Optoma HD35UST projection test on a white wall
First, we tested the Optoma HD35UST projector by projecting an image directly onto the white wall of our test room. For this purpose, we paired it up with the Panasonic DMP-UB900 UHD-4K Blu-ray player and an Android TV Box using NorStone Jura HDMI cables. It should be noted that the wall used for this test isn’t particularly level, is covered in painted woven wallpaper whose texture is visible, and has a lot of imperfections on its surface. Consequently, these are extremely unfavorable conditions, but they can be useful in revealing the possible pitfalls of projecting directly into a wall…
Setup is easy and relatively quick. We turned the projector on, then accessed the settings menu to display the alignment grid. We adjusted the size and geometry of the image by moving the projector around on the TV unit and altering the height of its feet. The image can then be optimized according to the color of the wall by choosing from several options: off (white wall), blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink and gray. This setting changes the colorimetry of the projected picture very slightly to compensate for the color of the wall.
After a few minutes, we have a large picture and can start watching a movie. It should be pointed out that we decided to make the room dark by lowering the shutter on the bay window in order to achieve more comfortable conditions for adjusting the picture.
To put it simply, projecting an image directly onto a white wall in a room that is even only partially lit up clearly isn’t possible, unless you are happy to make do with anemic and, quite frankly, washed-out colors that are difficult to distinguish.
Once the shutter is fully lowered, intra-image contrast is improved. Nevertheless, the white walls and ceiling in our test room create a lot of glare which limits the depth and density of blacks in the picture. The light emitted by the projector to display the image is reflected by the projection surface, the adjacent walls, the ceiling and our white lacquered TV unit.
The second annoyance that we came across was due to the projection surface. Firstly, the fact that the wall isn’t completely flat prevented us from obtaining an image with a truly straight outline. Secondly, the texture of the wallpaper and the bumps on the wall were clearly visible. The light from the projector hits the wall at a fairly narrow angle. Almost grazing, it highlights even the slightest irregularities on the wall, whose drop shadows affect the image. As we had expected, the result is disappointing.
A summary of the first part of this review
Projecting onto a white wall has several advantages:
- The projector is quick to install, and therefore ideal for occasional use.
- It is not necessary to mount a screen onto the ceiling or a wall.
- There are no restrictions to the size of the image (you simply need to move the projector back by a few centimeters to enlarge the picture).
- It is possible to easily install the projector in another room.
However, there are also drawbacks to this method:
- The contrast is very poor due to the ambient light when the room isn’t completely dark. Projected onto a white wall, the image is very pale and almost illegible in daylight or artificial lighting. It is necessary to close the shutter and turn off the lights to obtain an image with barely satisfactory colors and contrast.
- The quality of the projection surface has a significant impact on the aspect of the projected image. The low-angled light of the Optoma HD35UST projector, and all ultra short throw projectors in general, accentuates the flaws in the projection surface, which alter the perceived quality of the image. The sharpness and level of detail suffer. Therefore, the wall must be completely level and smooth.
Testing the Optoma HD35UST with the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright screen
Is it appropriate to invest in a dedicated projection screen with a technical canvas when you own an ultra short throw projector? Before we could find out, we had to get to work and assemble the screen.
Assembling the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright screen
The Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright projection screen comes unassembled. The package includes:
- Four pieces that make up the aluminum frame,
- Four aluminum parts and four black angular connectors that are used for the casing,
- Four angular plates and four mounting brackets,
- Mounting screws,
- A cross-headed screwdriver,
- An Allen key,
- A protective sheet to assemble the screen on the floor,
- The projection screen rolled-up and protected by a cover,
- Four metal rods,
- The springs to stretch the screen,
- Two tools to stretch the springs,
- Two pairs of white gloves.
Assembling the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright screen isn’t very complicated, but it does require a minimum of precision and thoroughness. A DIY enthusiast can do the job on their own, but some steps are easier to do with two pairs of hands.
The Lumene Extra Bright projection screen for ultra short throw projectors is meticulously crafted using robust materials. The system used to stretch the canvas with small springs is similar to the system used for trampoline fabric. It ensures that the projection surface is perfectly even.
Once the covers are fitted, the screen boasts a slim and discreet black frame. The bottom of the frame sports a light gray aluminum plaque engraved with the Lumene logo.
This Lumene projection screen comes with four wall brackets (2 at the top, 2 at the bottom) with an integrated fastening system to secure it firmly against the wall.
Before securing the screen, it is important to mark out the edges of the image projected by the projector. That way, the screen will be positioned as precisely as possible in relation to the position of the projector.
Once the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright projection screen was mounted and fixed onto the wall, we were able to continue testing the Optoma HD35UST ultra short throw projector, paired with the outstanding Panasonic DMP-UB900 UHD 4K Blu-ray player and our Android TV Box.
The first step is getting the image projected by the Optoma HD35UST projector to fit inside the Lumene projection screen’s frame. This requires the projector to be precisely positioned. Because the projector has an ultra short throw length, moving it 5 mm forwards, backwards, left or right immediately results in the image being distorted and offset by 10 to 15 cm. To adjust the size of the image, you can either use the alignment grid available via the settings menu, or project a 16:9 image that is bright enough so that the contours are clearly legible.
In order to achieve a rectangular picture at the desired size without using electronic correction functions such as Keystone correction, which is detrimental to image quality, you must arm yourself with patience and precision. First, the lens must be centered in relation to the screen and the rear panel of the projector must be positioned so that it is totally parallel to the projection screen. The Optoma HD35UST features three height-adjustable feet which then allow you to precisely adjust the height of the image.
Once the edges of the image match the frame of the screen perfectly, do not touch the projector or the furniture on which it is placed, otherwise you will have to go through the whole process again… Beware of curious children (and adults), as well any cats that may decide to take a closer look!
Once the size and configuration of the image were adjusted, the benefits of using a screen with a technical canvas were immediately visible.
In our 20m² room with artificial lighting (17 LED spotlights) and the shutter open by about a third, the image projected by the Optoma HD35UST projector onto the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright screen is clear and has a rather high contrast.
The result is even better with the lights turned off and the shutter still left open by about a third. The colors still lack some intensity, but the image is comparable to that of many TVs exposed to the same conditions.
Leaving the shutter completely open doesn’t offer great results: the light that fills our south-facing room is too bright for the screen’s technical canvas to fully compensate for the glare. However, the image remains clearer than when it was projected onto the wall.
Next, we closed the shutter completely and turned off the lights to plunge the room into darkness. The picture is dazzling, perfectly contrasted and we had to switch the lamp to Eco mode for a softer, more cinematic image. This has the immediate advantage of reducing the noise made by the projector. The Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright screen impressed us in ambient light, and it truly delighted us in “movie night” conditions!
Naturally, the flaws produced by the irregularities of our white wall have disappeared. The Lumene screen’s perfectly stretched and smooth canvas provides a relaxing, crisp and well-defined image. Even when the projector is turned off, the screen, though imposing, remains an appealing object, beautifully crafted and not unpleasant to look at.
Everything would be perfect if it wasn’t for the Lumene logo on its aluminum plaque at the bottom of the screen; it catches the light, and our eye. Although it may make us seem like home theater extremists, we decided to use a black marker pen to color the logo so it matched the frame… An unorthodox but effective solution!
In order to enjoy an image quality that we were happy with on the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright screen, we carried out a couple of adjustments to the Optoma HD35UST projector. It should be noted that we switched the lamp setting to Bright or Dynamic when the room was lit, and to Eco when it was dark. At 3,600 lumens, the Optoma projector is too bright to provide satisfactory viewing conditions in a dark room. These settings can be accessed directly with the remote control (dedicated green button).
Here are the image settings that we chose for watching movies and TV series in the best possible conditions:
- Display mode = Cinema
- Brightness = 1
- Contrast = 3
- Sharpness = 1
- Color temperature = medium
- Gamma = Cinema
- Brilliant Color = 1
- Color space = RGB (16-235)
Once these settings were implemented, we we able to enjoy a very pleasing HD 1080p image, that was rather easy on the eye and well-defined, especially with Blu-ray movies. The level of detail and sharpness of pictures from Amazon Prime Video and Netflix could have been better. Their compression probably has something to do with it and, in our opinion, using sharpness settings isn’t recommended, unless it is in very small doses. The cure is often worse than the problem, creating contours that are too pronounced and even visual artifacts if the slider is pushed too far.
We won’t focus on analysing the sound of the Optoma HD35UST projector, which is only just acceptable (mono driver). It’s enough for “half listening” to the news, but it can’t replace a real sound system. If you don’t want to install a home theater system in your living room, you can always opt for a soundbase placed under the projector (make sure to check the dimensions beforehand), a soundbar placed in front of the projector, or even a pair of wireless hi-fi speakers placed at each side of the screen.
Testing the Optoma HD35UST HD1080p ultra short throw projector on a white wall then paired with the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright (16:9) fixed frame projection screen was an enriching experience in a number of aspects.
This test showed us that projecting onto a white wall is possible, but not ideal. The projection surface must be truly adapted for this purpose: flat without any irregularities. Failing this, the image is disappointing. It’s sufficient for watching the news and talk shows, but you will rapidly become frustrated if you try to to enjoy a movie or TV series.
This test also allowed us to measure the impact of glare which is a major challenge when it comes to projection. The picture lacks contrast and colors are lackluster when projected onto a white wall in a light room, even only partially lit. It becomes extremely pale and even illegible in daylight or with artificial lighting. The wall onto which the image is projected reflects the light from the projector all over the room. The other walls and the ceiling are therefore lit up, which reduces the perceived contrast. Clearly, having a large, south-facing window and a white lacquered TV unit didn’t help. With the shutter open, the light entering through the bay window is reflected intensely by the TV unit and floods the room. When the shutter is closed, the projected image is reflected onto the top of the unit, which accentuates the ambient light in the room. Projection is clearly not an option in these conditions.
This is why it is important to replicate, at least partially, the projection conditions of a real cinema to achieve perfectly rendered colors and deep blacks. Making the room partially or totally dark, drawing the curtains, and avoiding lacquered furniture all helps to improve intra-image contrast.
Using a technical canvas such as the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright makes sense in a room that isn’t optimized for projection. With this screen, the picture is bright and highly contrasted, colors are vivid, even with artificial lighting. Only the intensity of the sunlight hitting the bay window – the sun is still low in late March – forced us to partially close the shutter to obtain comfortable viewing conditions during the day. Installing blackout curtains or even acoustic curtains such as the Hofa Acoustic Curtain ISO which also reduces sound resonance in living rooms is something to consider in very bright rooms.
After carrying out this test, it seems essential to us to use a dedicated projection screen with a technical canvas like the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4k Extra Bright if you wish to replace the TV in your living room with an ultra short throw projector such as the Optoma HD35UST. Unless the room is completely dark in order to achieve adequate image quality.
Marina’s review, from the Son-Video.com Marseille – Plan de Campagne store
Test carried out during the day with the store’s ambient lighting.
Source : Google ChromeCast Video
– Wildlife documentary and video about Peru (Youtube),
– Movies on Netflix: Jurassic World/The Avengers.
The Optoma HD35UST allows you to project a large image while being close to the wall onto which it is projected. It features a wide range of colors, excellent sharpness and brightness. The settings are very sophisticated (contrast, sharpness, brightness, color of the wall or projection screen, various image settings…). The menu is very comprehensive and easy to navigate.
Thanks to the Lumene Extra Bright screen, once the settings are adjusted the result is comparable to that of a television screen, even in full daylight.
The only downside is that it takes quite a while to initially adjust the image to the projection screen. Once it is calibrated, it mustn’t be moved.
What we liked:
- The Lumene screen’s build quality and finishes (slim, aluminum frame),
- The highly efficient technical canvas,
- How easy it was to install and configure the Optoma HD35UST projector,
- The image obtained with this combination: bright and contrasted with vivid colors.
What we would have liked:
- For the Lumene logo to have been less noticeable,
- For the projector to have been quieter in Bright mode.