Optoma CinemaX P2 review: Big screen star
Home theater setups involving projectors are certainly great options if you want a bigger image than any sanely priced TV can offer, but they’re not without their share of compromises either. There’s almost certainly some rearranging of furniture or installation of unsightly ceiling mounts, not to mention additional audio investments to make up for the generally anemic speakers on most projectors. There is one that bucks this trend – the Optoma CinemaX P2 – as long as you have well-lined pockets for this rather uncompromised piece of home entertainment tech.
Let’s get the sticker shock out of the way first. What does spending the equivalent of a reasonably specced hatchback (Rs. 4,99,999) get you with the Optoma P2? You get an ultra-short throw 4K HDR laser projector that can project massive images without the (traditional) need for a massive room. Placed close to a wall, the P2 can go cleanly past 120-inches with zero bother, and a fully integrated soundbar takes care of the big screen sound you’d want paired with a theater this big. It’s all packed into this rather cool looking piece of kit – I’ve had the guests and family comment that this looks like something straight out of the houses of Apple and Dyson – and the matte white and grey fabric grille fits in well in living rooms without that obvious ‘tech gadget’ vibe. Flip side – it’s available only in white, which means you’ll need kid gloves for general upkeep. Connectivity is generous, with three HDMI ports, two USB ports, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio jack and a digital audio out (should you really need to up the audio firepower).
Installation is exceptionally easy, with the P2 sitting mere inches away from the wall for a sub-100-inch image and a bit further away to hit its optimum 120-125-inch screen size (making it ideal for cramped spaces or dens). Most folks could simply project on a blank wall, though Optoma recommends using the projector with an ALR screen for added brightness and contrast. Bear in mind, the approach of defaulting to simplicity does have its downsides, and the lack of any manual keystone or geometry correction option can be a bit of a bother for folks who prefer an off-center placement. Some additional advanced options to correct the image lines would have been nice, even if they were buried deep in the projector settings.
And while it is fairly bulky, it is an integrated unit and thus (in a sense) portable enough to be carried from one room to another if you want to move the viewing party elsewhere. With the ability to plug in a FireTV Stick or an Apple TV 4K, the native Aptoide operating system pales in comparison to both platforms, plus the app selection on the included app marketplace is rather lacking. There is Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, should you wish to scream your basic voice control commands (power, input source, volume) across the room to the P2. Regular control is via the included backlit remote, and the projector has the solitary power button to turn it on/off.
My reservations about the P2 based on the less-than-usable software on board were quickly brushed aside when I settled in for some movie time with the P2. The P2 has a laser light source with 3000 ANSI lumens and a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio on tap, which means a longer lasting (upwards of 20,000 hours) no-lamp experience and images that are crisp, vivid and super immersive. Running through a wide variety of streaming and locally stored content, the projector does exceptionally well on animated content and geared-for-the-big-screen documentaries like Planet Earth, faithfully reproducing 4K content natively instead of upscaling. With the high brightness levels, shadow detail is retained and black levels are impressive, and you can even watch brightly lit content like an early evening footie match with some amount of ambient light. The motion-smoothening settings works well for sports, and looks well restrained without going too far into the ‘artificially sped up; zone.
The P2 does pretty well with HDR content too, with great flesh tones, excellent color saturation levels while skillfully avoiding the excessive image darkening and greenish tinge that most HDR projectors still fall prey to. Even standard definition content scales well though your mileage may vary – a bit of the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ principle at work. If the image isn’t to your precise liking, there are a T variety of display modes to choose from - Cinema, HDR, Bright, Game and User – though Cinema fast became my favorite across a majority of content. I did get the chance to hook up the PlayStation 5 with the Optoma P2 (a pairing that I sorely missed when both devices went back after the review), and the Game mode helped deliver lower latency (input lag) which made the gaming experience on the P2 absolutely exhilarating. A handy note here: if you’re very serious about gaming on the P2, you’ll have to live with the missing HDMI 2.1 and 120Hz support.
Yet, the ace up the P2’s sleeve is its audio performance, with the entire fabric covered front of the projector cleverly ensconcing four drivers – two full range (for highs and mids) and two woofers, each packing a 10W digital amp for a total output of 40W. This is akin to having a soundbar attached to a projector, and quite honestly, this is the best projector audio I’ve experienced, bar none. The soundstage is expansive, dialogues are crisp and the bass, while not the punchiest, is sufficient and didn’t have me miss connecting the projector to an external audio setup.
Here’s the thing. If the high cost of entry hasn’t scared you off and you’ve read this far, you’ll begin to realize (as I did) just who this projector will appeal to – folks who crave a no-hassle large screen without shelling out far more obscene amounts of cash for a TV that large, particularly if they don’t have the luxury of dedicated space for a home theater setup. The do-it-all single-unit convenience with a largely uncompromised audio-visual output really sells the value of spending the big bucks on the P2.
Optoma CinemaX P2
Pros: Brightness and color, excellent audio for a projector, ultrashort throw convenience, good HDR performance, easy to setup, stylish design
Cons: Pricey, Aptoide OS and app store is sluggish and dated
Price: Rs. 4,99,999
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar