Vivitek HK2200 4K Projector Review
Not all 4K DLP projectors are born equal, says Tony O'Brien, as his eyes are enchanted by this new compact, affordable design…
4K Home Entertainment Projector
AUD $2,999 RRP
It wasn't that long ago that the term 'affordable 4K projector' was a misnomer. That all changed in 2017, with the introduction of BENQ's $2,499 W1700 and the more recent W2700 which took home a well-deserved Applause Award in 2019. Having held the mantle for nearly three years, it was only a matter of time before others sought to challenge the Taiwanese manufacturer's domination of the sub $3,000 4K projector market. So, naturally, when Vivitek's $2,999 HK2200 arrived for review, we were keen to put it through its paces and discover for ourselves if it could indeed usurp the W2700 as the king of affordable 4K projection.
Just like the W2700, Vivitek's HK2200 is a single-chip DLP projector that's designed to be equally at home in a lounge-room as it is in a home theatre. Utilising the same 0.47” DMD chip, the HK2200's 3840x2160 resolution enables it to display nearly 8.3 million pixels. In reality, the DMD (digital micromirror device) has an actual resolution of 1920x1080. In simple terms, the DMD quadruples the number of times its mirrors flash, increasing its pixel count to 8.3 million. Call it what you will, the fact of the matter is that to own a true native 4K projector you're going to need to spend a lot more!
With a throw ratio of 1.13 - 1.47:1, the HK2200 is capable of producing images with a diagonal size of between 30” and 300”. It's also quoted as being able to produce 2,000 ANSI lumens with a contrast ratio of 50,000:1. Colour gamut is stated as 100% of Rec. 709 (HD colourspace) and 80% of DCI/P3 (4K UltraHD colourspace). Keen pundits will note the HK2200 can't produce the wider colour gamut of the W2700, which is capable of 95% of DCI/P3 coverage. It's been my experience that projectors at this price-point can't muster enough light in DCI/P3 mode to create watchable HDR (High Dynamic Range) images, leaving enthusiasts with the choice between WCG (Wide Colour Gamut) images in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) or HDR images with a colour gamut closer to Rec. 709. Fundamentally, there's nothing wrong with either approach; however, if presented the choice, I'd take brighter HDR images any day of the week.
The HK2200 is a lamp-based projector, with a quoted lifespan of 10,000 hours in Eco. Mode and 4,000 hours in Standard Mode. In all likelihood, though usable lamp-life will be lower. Regardless, replacement lamps are available for $380.
Thanks to its gloss white finish and compact size (368x130x254mm), the HK2200 is going to blend nicely into most living spaces. Many will favour black for dedicated cinema rooms; gloss white is the flavour of the day at this price-point. Either way, it's a handsome unit which looks much better in person than it does on the web.
The lens is located to the front left of the HK2200, with vents on either side of its chassis. The back of the projector plays hosts all of the connections, which consist of two HDCP 2.2 HDMI inputs, USB 2.0 and 3.0 (multimedia viewer), TOSLINK and a single 3.5mm audio out. The HK2200 also has wireless mirroring capacity, although as our experience with these in the past has left quite a lot to be desired, we used an Apple TV for streaming. The power button and control panel is located on the top of the HK2200, and it's here you'll find the projector's lens controls, consisting of focus, zoom and vertical lens-shift. Sadly, there's no horizontal lens-shift, but once again, its par for the course at this price-point.
Where I had no objections to the HK2200's appearance, build quality did leave a little to be desired. Notable was the horizontal lens-control, which consists of a 'flat' black dial housed behind a pull-down flap. While I was able to centre the image on the screen successfully, its operation was coarse in action, having a good range of movement before engaging the lens.
Ceiling mounted, the HK2200 produced a lot of light spill onto the ceiling around it. Measured fan noise was consistent with the numbers quoted by Vivitek (32dB Normal/ 29dB Eco.) While that may be the case, I found myself taking exception to the tone of the noise the HK2200 produced – more so than other projectors at this price-point. Reducing the resolution to 1080p alleviated it somewhat, but obviously at the cost of resolution. It's important to note that my projector is mounted close to the listening position, and to a back wall, which amplifies both noise the light spill. Depending on your viewing environment and distance from the projector, neither of these may concern you.
The HK2200 was connected to an Anthem MRX-720 AV receiver, which in turn had both an Apple TV and Pansonic UB-9000 4K Blu-ray player connected to it. Images were projected onto a 16.9 100” Severtson Cinegray screen. The Anthem MRX-720 was connected to VAF Signature i91 front and centre loudspeakers, and i90 rear and overhead Atmos speakers, with the low-end handled by twin custom 10” VAF Veratis subs. The speakers and AV receiver were wired with Analysis Plus cables.
MEASUREMENTS & CALIBRATION
When it comes to judging the picture quality of a television or projector, the impact of incorrect picture settings cannot be underestimated. Therefore, before making any critical observations regarding picture quality, every display we review at StereoNET is professionally calibrated. Measurement tools consisted of an X-Rite i1Pro2 spectroradiometer and C6 colourimeter (profiled against the i1Pro2). Each was tripod mounted and measurements were taken directly from a 100” Severtson CineGray screen with Calman Professional calibration software. Patterns consisted of a mix of 10% and 18% windows, generated via a Murideo SIX-G Pattern Generator and the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark disc.
While contrast ratio and black level measurements are included, it's essential to understand the limitation of doing so outside of a controlled testing environment. It's for this reason that sequential contrast ratio was used, as opposed to the preferred method of ANSI contrast. Despite the flaws in using this method of testing, nonetheless, it provides a means for comparing black levels and contrast ratio between projectors in the future.
The HK2200 has seven user-selectable picture modes consisting of Bright, Cinema, ISF Day, ISF Night User, Vivid TV and HDR10 – the last of which is reserved for HDR10 content and the ISF modes unlocked within the menu. Naturally, light output varied by picture mode, reaching 82.5 nits in Bright mode but at the cost of undeniably green tinge to the image. Vivid TV produced 77 nits, but as the name suggests was akin to watching a television in Vivid mode, with exaggerated images and a distinct blue tint.
The HK2200's calibration controls consist of two-point greyscale adjustment; gamma presets and a colour management system (CMS). The HK2200 was calibrated from its within its ISF Night Mode, which produced nearly 53.4 nits and a measured black level of 0.033, resulting in a sequential contrast ratio of 1623:1. In this mode, images were decidedly 'warm' with red dominating the greyscale and contributing heavily to Delta E, which averaged 10.1 and topping out at 13.6 at 100%.
The two-point greyscale controls were responsive, yielding a post-calibration average Delta E of 1.3 with a maximum Delta E of 4 at 10%. Likewise, gamma tracking was improved from 2.07 to 2.19 after calibration. Out of the box colour accuracy left a little to be desired with green, red and yellow pushing out of the Rec. 709 boundary. While the CMS was able to improve the colour gamut slightly, some errors were unable to be fixed, so it was decided to leave the HK2200 in its native gamut.
In HDR10 mode the HK2200 produced 52.8 nits and between 74.28-81.36% of UHDAP3 (Ultra HD DCI/P3) coverage, which is consistent with the numbers quoted by Vivitek. EOTF tracking favoured an early roll-off, which is going to make images slightly brighter through the range, but at the potential cost of high end brightness.
Despite any apprehension I may have had about the way the HK2200 measured, it produced some of the best quality images that I've seen from a 4K DLP projector at its price-point – good enough to give some higher price 4K DLPs a run for their money. While it couldn't compete with its competitors in terms of colour accuracy, its excellent black levels gave images a superb sense of depth and dimensionality. This, coupled with the TI chip and inherent sharpness that comes from using a single chip DLP gave upscaled HD content a visible step forward in terms of detail and sharpness.
Fed the likes of 2012's Wolverine, the HK2200 delivers a visual feast. Here the upscaled 1080p disc was laden with detail, and razor-sharp. Combined with excellent black levels, images were given a superb sense of dimensionality, the image often appearing 3D-like at times. Much the same could be said with the Blu-ray remaster of 1986 classic Aliens – the HK2200 not only breathing new life into the aged transfer, but bringing that distinct 'DLP film-like quality' to the movie.
Of course, many are going to look to the HK2200 for its 4K playback abilities, and here it doesn't disappoint. The HK2200's excellent black levels combined nicely with the projector's brightness and tone mapping capabilities, producing the best HDR images I've seen for the money. The opening scenes of How To Train Your Dragon - The Hidden World were beautifully rendered, the HK2200 showing no signs of crush with near-black detail nor banding in the fog.
Most surprising was the brightness with which the HK2200 produced HDR content. Here it seemed to punch well above its measured brightness, Hiccup's sword burning brightly against the darkened night sky. While there was a little more trade-off in high-level detail than I'm used to seeing with my own Sony VPL-VW270ES, the HK2200 proved capable of producing highly watchable HDR images.
The HK2200 was able to convincingly render the night scenes of Sicario - Day of the Soldado with all but the smallest amount of black crush. Sure, the HK2200 didn't provide the cleanest rendering of this often challenging transfer that I've seen, but it was far from offensive. Likewise, the HK2200 tended to slightly exaggerate greens and yellows making the golden tones in Sicario - Day of the Soldado and sepia tones of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them appear a little overcooked at times.
Another area which the HK-2200 performed above its weight class was motion. Setting the ViviMotion to its lowest setting took some of the judder from 24p sources, without introducing objectionable artefacts. Of course, the use of such controls is subjective, and if you're a 24 frame purist (or Tom Cruise), the only position you're going to want this control in is off.
By the time I had finished reviewing the HK2200, I was scratching my head, wondering what had just happened. After spending more than a few hours calibrating and measuring the capabilities of the HK2200, I can tell you that images shouldn't look as good as they do on this projector.
Subjectively, black levels were the best I've seen for the money. Upscaled 1080p Blu-ray images were beautiful with a high level of detail and a sense of depth that draws you into the film. In terms of HDR playback, the HK2200 is ahead of the curve, producing bright highlights that punch well beyond the measured value. Although the HK2200 is behind the competition in terms of colour accuracy, it more than makes up for it with the many things it does get right. Simply put, the HK2200 produced the best images for the money I've seen from any projector.
For more information, visit Vivitek.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.