Taking a good idea and making it great is exactly what Optoma has done here with the latest iteration of the Cinemax series. While they all maintain the family look, which has become ubiquitous for ultra short-throw laser projectors, the Cinemax D2 looks clean and classy. The no-nonsense matte black finish helps it remain discreet, so if you want to fool your friends into thinking you’ve just bought a giant TV, you might just be able to pull it off!
Optoma Cinemax D2 UST projector review
As with all UST laser projectors, an ALR or Ambient Light Rejection screen is mandatory if you really want to exploit the D2’s full potential. These screens have a specialised material that focuses all the light from the projector’s lamp onto the screen and rejects all other ambient and stray light, thus increasing brightness manifold. Natively, the Optoma D2 boasts 3,000 ANSI lumens brightness, which is on par with its more expensive predecessor and plenty for everyday viewing. Yes, even with the curtains open, giving it more of a television-like functionality.
Also, like the P2, the D2 gets HDR and HLG support, a true 4K DLP engine from Texas Instruments, a laser light source that’s good for at least 20,000 hours of use in normal mode, and some gamer-centric features too. You might call it full-featured because Optoma has smartly opted to include installer-friendly functions like warping adjustment, 4-corner adjustment and 2D keystone. All of these increase your screen size (or shape) options so the D2 can be shoehorned into any space that has an empty wall and needs to be placed only about 10in from that wall for a 100in image!
Connectivity is adequate with HDMI eARC support that will allow for high-bandwidth throughput to an external soundbar, which you may need if you’re serious about sound. The built-in speakers face the listener, just like on the P2 but are less powerful here and also sound less dynamic, less open and overall, less impressive. Invest in a soundbar at least and that will ensure that the audio keeps pace with the cinematic image.
Our test setup allowed us to project a 100in image from a distance of about a foot from the screen and like all UST projectors, achieving the perfect picture geometry is like threading a needle, but only harder. But eventually, with all the tools on board, we did get Ted Lasso to bake his famous biscuits in HDR and serve it with a fresh, natural and rich tone that was impressive for a projector at this price. Especially laser-based ones that have a tendency to burn some of the delicate highlights on subjects lit from one side only.
The HDR brightness control comes in handy which can be bumped up to 6, while the regular brightness control can be left at the neutral 0 position for the best blend. Brilliant Colour allows for a fine sweep across the cool and warm tone options and you also get granular RGB colour management options if you wish to use calibration software and take the D2 to town.
Image quality-wise, even on our non-ALR screen, what we saw was an accurate (mostly) depiction of the scene with great colour depth, sharpness and motion. The term “mostly” was used because like most implementations of HDR in projectors, the green and blues have a tendency to steer off course, urging you to dig out that professional calibrator if you really want the picture of the year award in your neighbourhood. But it’s not anything that will detract you from enjoying a large picture that is engaging and as easy as a television to live with. Some quick adjustments to the image settings and you can settle down with a home cinema experience that should wow you and the guests equally. It displays enough depth and realism to instantly make even an 85in LED TV seem small-ish and insignificant and like some would say, there is no substitute for size.
The 3,000 ANSI lumens might not sound like a new benchmark, but we managed to watch an entire episode of Stranger Things with all the curtains open in our review room, and it barely gave anything in the way of contrast or colour fidelity. No TV for this price can match its impact on sheer size or even immersiveness, which comes from a non-backlit image.
Cycling between the different HDR modes alters the colour balance mildly and boils down to preference really, but our choice was Film over Detail. The Optoma D2 offers an acceptable balance between the “pop” you expect of HDR but without the associated high cost of typical HDR hardware. It lacks the ultimate refinement when it comes to the showing of pure whites or the truest green, but this is only nit-picking at this price.
Big on a budget
Worth mentioning is that Optoma has forsaken the built-in smart TV like features and app store to keep costs down and it’s perfectly justified. Using an external source in the form of a FireTV stick or Apple TV usually is faster and more consistent anyway for the OTT app experience. The remote, while plasticky, is fully backlit and comes with almost every hotkey you could want to tweak the picture, HDR, keystone and sound settings on the fly. It doesn’t scream quality but it does shout FUNCTIONAL.
Small things that would matter are taken care of, like the super silent fans that I could never hear in my acoustically treated room, even during extended use. Optoma has also enclosed the optical engine in an IP5X rated enclosure so the infamous dust of India shouldn’t reduce its lifespan or cause smearing.
If you’re into gaming, the D2 offers 240Hz refresh rate at 1080p and 4ms input lag, which is all you’ll need to forget about PC gaming unless you’re a professional e-Sport armchair athlete. Want more pixels? Well at 4K resolution, the refresh rate drops to 60Hz and the input lag rises to 16.9ms, which is still reasonable for casual gamers who want a bout between bingeing.
Replacing the almost sacrosanct television in the living room environment isn’t everyone's ideal of practicality. But fortune favours the brave and if you even add the cost of a 100in ALR screen, the package cost along with the Optoma D2 is probably one-third that of a 100in TV.
Do the maths and the advantages of a laser UST projector become apparent rapidly and the D2 is one of the most price conscious specimens of the breed yet. It barely shows any major compromises in its picture quality and offers a ton of placement flexibility, ease of use and longer life than a TV. What’s not to like?
A well-tuned lifestyle projector that can outmatch a TV for sheer impact and value for money.
|Native resolution:||3840x2160 4K|
|Brightness:||3,000 ANSI lumens|
|Life span:||30,000 hrs (Eco)|
|Speakers:||10W x 2|
|Connectivity:||HDMI x 3, Optical out, 3.5mm, USB-A, RS-232|
|Dimensions (WHD):||576 x 383 x 130mm|