After updating the CinemaX P1's firmware and installing Netflix, Prime Video and a few other apps, I was ready to go. I also connected my 4K cable box to the back HDMI 2.0 connection and an Amazon Fire Stick 4K on the side port.
The laser projector covers 87 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut, compared to 95 percent for BenQ's HT3550, which has the same DLP chip. That means colors won't be quite as accurate, but only for the most demanding HDR content.
I used the "cinema" picture mode for regular SD content and saw bright, color-accurate pictures. My viewing distance was limited to about 15 feet, which is a bit too close for a 100-inch screen. However, even at that close distance, the resolution and 4K content looked very sharp. Thanks to the dynamic iris, contrast is as punchy as advertised, too.
This projector is really designed for HDR10 content, however. (It doesn't work with Dolby Vision or Samsung's HDR10+ because many types home projectors still don't support that tech). With HDR enabled and HDR10 content streaming through Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, the image quality improved dramatically. The image was significantly brighter and punchier, colors more saturated and I could see more details in shadows and highlights.
With other projectors I've tested, like the aforementioned HT3550, HDR quality isn't dramatically better than SDR. However, the CinemaX P1 has 1,000 nits more light and sits right next to the screen to maximize that brightness. That contrast gets a boost from the ALR101 screen, albeit at the cost of some brightness as I mentioned.
With all that brightness and the ALR screen, I was able to use this projector with the lights on and shutters open. Content is certainly more watchable under those conditions than with a regular projector, though the image still looked much more washed out and desaturated than a 4K TV. Still, this is about as good as you'll get in ambient light with a projector.
Many long-throw projectors have a problem with the "rainbow effect," where folks see prism-like colors when they look away from the screen. However, the eight-segment color wheel (compared to six segments on most projectors) really reduces that effect. In fact, I never noticed the rainbow effect once, and I'm fairly sensitive to it.
The NuForce sound is far, far above what you'd expect on a projector with built-in speakers. Dialogue was as clear as promised and high-end sounds were crystal sharp. The bass was good, but not quite as rich and immersive as you'd expect with a larger sound bar or home theater system.
While it works with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, there's no 5.1 or Dolby Atmos support. Overall, though, the built-in sound is excellent and particularly convenient if space is at a premium.
Projector noise can be an issue -- as I found with BenQ's HT2550. However, noise levels in this model were not bothersome and well below 30 decibels, according to my measurements. That's below the noise floor of a typical room, especially one in a noisy city like mine.
The Alexa/Google Assistant support is handy, especially for music or general info. However, the built-in streaming is really a weak point with this projector. The Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps weirdly don't support 4K HDR, so your resolution is limited to 1080p, and the P1 can't even upscale them. If you're spending this kind of money, though, there's a simple fix: Just get a 4K streaming box, dongle, console or Blu-ray player and forget about the apps.
Projectors can't compare with mid-range or high-end TVs when it comes to pure image quality. However, with the Optoma CinemaX P1, you don't have to compromise as much, particularly when it comes to brightness. For a fraction the price of a 100-inch TV, and even less than most 75-inch sets, you get all the advantages of a projector and fewer of the drawbacks.
Optoma is known for building affordable projectors, so the $3,700 CinemaX P1 might not seem that cheap. However, it costs nearly half of LG's $6,000 CineBeam projector and is brighter, to boot, emitting 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness compared to the 2,700 of its rival. On the cheaper side is Xiaomi's Mi Laser Projector at $1,470, which emits nearly half the light (1,600 ANSI lumens).
So the price is fair next to the competition, particularly considering the feature set. And while this projector doesn't deliver the picture quality of more costly native 4K long-throw projectors from JVC and Sony, it's brighter than many of those models.
Yes, the streaming apps are terrible, but a $70 Chromecast or $40 Amazon Fire Stick solves that problem. If you're like me and think that size trumps all other factors, then the Optoma CinemaX P1 delivers one of the best and brightest images you can get at this price, with the added bonus of excellent sound.