Viewsonic X10-4KE Portable 4K DLP Projector Review Page 2

HDR-related adjustments include an auto-detect mode and Low, Mid, and High EOTF (the HDR equivalent of gamma) settings. There are also multiple Frame Interpolation and 3D settings for anyone interested in those display options. On the audio front, there are various EQ adjustments that let you boost or cut audio signals at specific frequencies ranging from 100-10,000 Hz.

For all viewing, I selected the projector's Full Light mode, which, after calibration, delivered 19 footlamberts (ft-L) in my dark theater room. Full on/off native contrast ratio (no dynamic iris setting is available on the projector) measured a mere 206:1, which is well below-average performance compared with similar 4K/DLP models I've tested.

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I started out my critical viewing with ViewSonic's portable by watching the Chinese historical drama Shadow on Blu-ray disc. In a sequence where the King dismisses a commander from his duties in front of the full court, there was plenty of detail to be seen in tapestries hanging in the background, and the mostly black-and-white image displayed good uniformity. Shadows lacked depth, however, and the black letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the image came across as more of a medium-dark gray. The projector's below-average contrast resulted in an image that looked relatively flat, with the rich range of shadow and highlight detail I typically see when viewing this disc failing to come through.

Moving on to something more colorful, I watched a scene from Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood where Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) drive home from a restaurant while Rick cries—literally—over his fading acting career. The skin tones of both actors had a natural, tanned look and colors of the vintage Hollywood environment that the film's Oscar-winning production designers managed to conjure up looked appropriately rich. Viewed in my darkened theater room, the image came across as balanced and, for the most part, adequately bright, though it definitely could have used a boost on that front.

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After extensive viewing, I ultimately became frustrated with the X10-4KE's post-calibrated performance and decided to just select the default TV picture mode and see what would happen. The result? A noticeable brightness bump that I found subjectively appealing when I watched animated shows on Netflix and Hulu, and also a PBS Frontline documentary about Amazon.com. While my measured results in TV picture mode showed it to be far from ideal, given the X10-4KE's limited contrast range, I think most folks would prefer to use that setting, especially when viewing in a less than cave-like environment.

Ultra HD/HDR Performance
Watching both Shadow and Once Upon a Time... again, this time using the Ultra HD Blu-ray version from the disc package, I was surprised by how little HDR contributed to the X10-4KE's image quality. Quite the opposite, in fact—4K/HDR in some important ways looked worse on the projector than the regular Blu-ray versions. I did note a very slight increase in highlight brightness in the court scene from Shadow, but it was accompanied by a flattening of highlight detail. Also, blacks didn't gain any appreciable depth with the HDR version, and there appeared to be a similar flattening of shadow detail.

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If the ViewSonic failed to impress with its HDR handling when watching Shadow, the situation got even worse when I viewed Once Upon a Time… on Ultra HD BD. While this film's image looked reasonably good on the X10-4KE with regular Blu-ray, it took on a flat appearance in 4K/HDR, with no high- light or shadow detail to speak of, and a pasty look to skin tones. ViewSonic's projector may be compatible with 4K/ HDR, but given these results, my recommendation would be to limit your input sources to HD/SDR for best performance.

Audio Performance
Audio quality from the X10-4KE's built-in speakers was impressive for a projector and not too far from what you might get with a decent soundbar. Dialogue was mostly full and clear, and the stereo image extended well beyond the projector's physical dimensions. While there wasn't much in the way of bass, low-frequency effects also didn't cause the projector's case to rattle or vibrate. Music streamed to the X10-4KE from my phone via Bluetooth sounded adequate, which is above and beyond what you should normally expect from an audio playback system built into a projector.

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Conclusion
ViewSonic's X10-4KE straggles a strange gap between projector categories. On the one hand, it's a solid, attractive- looking example of a portable model—one that you wouldn't mind being seen toting along to your vacation home. And it offers features that place it well above a typical portable such as auto-setup and focus, good-quality built-in audio, 4K resolution/HDR10 support, and extensive connections plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming. Also, its picture calibration options, including RGB gain and gamma settings and a full set of color management system controls, are similar to what you'd find in a standard, non-portable projector.

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On the other hand, the X10-4KE's contrast is well below-average compared with typical home theater projectors, and once you take advantage of its picture calibration options, the resulting image comes across as borderline dim, even when viewed in a dark room. Also, its handling of HDR was substandard, with the EOTF adjustments in the advanced setup menu providing little

or no help on that front. In the end, I was happier with the results I got when I threw off my video calibrator hat, selected a picture mode that delivered the brightest image, and eyeballed the adjustments. At $1,500, I have to say I expect a bit more from a projector, even one that's 4K/HDR10-compatible, offers the convenience of portability, and doesn't require a lamp replacement.

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jeffhenning's picture

...as looking like the world’s most powerful pencil sharpener.

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