On the other hand, Ultra Short Throw (UST) projectors offer a top-notch home theater experience at a much lower cost than a similar sized TV. On the other hand, there are no features like Dolby Vision that you would expect on a good 4K TV anywhere on any monitors, UST or otherwise.
That has just changed with the launch of the Formovie Theater home projector. For a street price of $3000, you get a 150-inch picture, a DLP-capable 4K laser 3D projector with Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, speakers tuned by Bowers & Wilkins, and Android TV. With Formovie’s color management system, it also promises the color accuracy we’ve only seen on $5,000+ models like Samsung’s Premiere.
- Dolby Vision
- Great brightness and contrast
- easy step
- Android TV
- Good built-in speakers
- Netflix app not working
- A little noisy fan
I had the opportunity to test Formovie Theater in a variety of scenarios, including Netflix, Prime, Disney+ and other streaming services along with an UltraHD Blu-ray player. Cut to the chase, it was very impressive, apart from one or two issues.
Design and Features
Although you may have never heard of the name Formovie, it is a joint venture of two famous entities, Xiaomi and Appotronics. The latter makes ALPD laser engines used in a number of projectors, including Barco commercial cinema models. The Formovie theater is based on the Fengmi T1 sold in China, but adds Dolby Vision and a color management system (CMS).
It has a nice-looking and discreet design that matches most living rooms. The dark gray and black rectangular body is relatively small, with a pair of cloth-covered main woofers at the front and woofers on the side. As usual in UST projectors, the triple laser light source and lens element are in a dock on top, with a sensor designed to stop strong light if you tuck your head in front of it (which I’ve done several times). It is cooled by a fan which can be slightly distracting during very quiet trails.
Texas Instruments XP DLP chip uses 0.47 inch native resolution of 1080p and 4 x pixel conversion, effectively providing true 4K image. With 2,800 lumens of light power, it’s in the mid-to-high range of brightness levels in floor cabinets. The triple laser allows for 113 percent coverage of the Rec 709 and 107 percent of the HDR BT.2020 color gamut, while providing an excellent 3,000:1 contrast ratio.
It also removes the rainbow effect that occurs with mono laser and color wheel. The $3,300 Hisense PX1-Pro and $3,500 Vava Chroma are some of the few other models in this price range with a triple laser drive—and some (LG’s CineBeam HU915QB, Samsung LSP9T, and AWOL Vision LTV-3500) are $5,000 and up. .
The Formovie theater is also the only model for sale in the US with official Dolby Vision certification. As you probably know, Dolby Vision is an advanced form of HDR (High Dynamic Range) that uses dynamic metadata programmed by content creators on a frame by frame basis. To this end, the levels of brightness, color, and contrast generally outperform the HDR10 found in most projectors.
Keep in mind that projectors, even the latest floor cabinet models, are generally not as bright as 4K TVs – so you lose some Dolby Vision effect. However, Formovie can display more colors than any TV and even most monitors out there, so you get the advantage of HDR for a wide range and billions of colors. Other models like Samsung’s Premiere support HDR10+, which is similar to Dolby Vision but less widely supported.
Another major feature is Android TV 11.0 support. Unlike some other projectors, it supports 4K streaming and Dolby Vision HDR, so you can get the most out of Disney+, Apple TV+, and other supported services. It also comes with YouTube and many other apps, along with Google Assistant voice control. And you get a convenient remote to access all this content, adjust picture settings, and more.
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention Netflix there. As it stands, the Netflix app is not supported by Formovie’s Android TV app. A Netflix spokesperson told me: “At the moment we are negotiating with the Netflix team, however, we cannot commit that Netflix will work on our devices in the near future.” Sure, you could use a $30-50 4K streaming stick, which I did, but it’s a pity that the world’s most popular streaming service isn’t even available.
Other than that, the Android TV experience is good, with every other streaming app (Disney+, Prime Video, YouTube, etc) doing just fine. It has Chromecast built in so you can cast from your phone, tablet or PC. The remote is basic but functional, with dedicated buttons for YouTube and Google Assistant. The latter can be activated by the usual “Hey, Google” command picked up by the projector’s far field microphone.
Anyway, Formovie is still ahead of some competitors in terms of Smart TV app. Optoma’s latest UST projector, CinemaX D2, offers Smart TV features only through an external dongle, for $200 USD.
It comes with three HDMI inputs on the back, including one with eARC enhanced audio capabilities. It also provides an SPDIF digital output, a 3.5mm line-out, two USB-A ports and an Ethernet input. The 42ms lag time (according to Projector Central) is enough for light gaming, but not anything beyond that.
Finally, Formovie theater has a rather impressive audio implementation. The built-in speakers are tuned by HiFi Bower & Wilkins, and they support Dolby Atmos surround sound if you have a compatible speaker or 5.1 system.
Picture and sound quality
The Formovie Projector setup was fairly straightforward on the 100-inch ALR screen. At this size, the bottom of the screen is 14.6 inches away from the bottom of the projector at a distance of just nine inches. Once the projector is almost in place, you can use the thumb wheel controls on the feet to level it front to back and side to side. Aberration correction is best avoided because it can distort the image, but it is present if necessary. Some focus adjustment may be required the first time you use it, but it is best to wait for the projector to heat up.
I had high expectations for the picture quality of the Formovie Theater, and I was not disappointed. I started testing it in a daylight environment to see how it would work as a TV replacement.
With only Movie mode selected in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) mode, I saw a vibrant 4K picture with natural colors and accurate skin tones. Sharpness was good, although not quite up to what I’ve seen with Samsung’s more expensive Premiere models. It’s possible that the lens (an important part of the gear in a floor cabinet projector) isn’t quite as good, though there’s clearly something to offer on a projector that costs less than half that price.
Color accuracy is low ‘sport’ or ‘live’ modes, but it delivers the highest levels of brightness and highest contrast levels, over 3000:1 – the best of any projector in floor cabinets. So these are good settings for watching regular TV, sports, etc., even with a fair amount of ambient light. Other settings include “Standard”, “Games” and “Child”, which are designed to work well with children’s programs and animations.
Next, I switched to Dolby Vision mode, where the projector displays the Dolby Vision logo when it detects a source. I have found that it is best to use this mode with the room as dark as possible.
You’ve watched insatiable scenes from Netflix Queen’s gambitDetailed clips in Prime Video LOTR: Rings of Strength And bright and exciting F1: Campaign to survive from Netflix. I also watched MIB InternationalAnd the Motorcycle rentalAnd the lokiand other movies and series, along with Aquaman And the a land on Blu-ray UltraHD.
Right out of the box, colors in Dolby Vision HDR mode looked accurate from a variety of sources, with much better detail in shadows and bright sections than in SDR mode. Colorful scenes in MIB International And the a land View a wide range of colors and color gamut available. Skin tones were fun and colors generally look accurate. However, the variance has been slightly reduced compared to the SDR. Another very small issue is that very bright scenes lack detail, possibly because the monitor isn’t setting their pitches correctly.
I also looked at HDR10 content from Prime Video (which mostly supports HDR10 and HDR10+, and offers only a few Dolby Vision shows), including bush And the boysalong with some 4K YouTube HDR10 content from Mystery Box. Once again, everything looked very powerful and bright, with colors that seemed to pop out of the screen.
Formovie theater has a slight blue bias out of the box, but has a wide range of controls to correct for that (white balance, grayscale and color management system). With the Xrite i1 Display Pro, I was able to get an almost perfect white level, but honestly, it was a minor adjustment – something that’s hard to see with the eye. However, you should definitely turn on the “Color Space” mode (it’s off by default) or else it won’t read the correct range from your source.
As for sound quality, the Formovie’s sound was pure and free of any distortion, matching some of the speakers I’ve heard. The dialogue was clear, both from deep and loud voices, so I never missed an important moment. It even provides a good audio system that fills the big screen.
It lacked the bass as you’d expect, but overall, the sound was surprisingly good for the built-in speakers. I imagine most people who transition to a product like this would also invest in a 5.1 home theater setup to get the best out of the projector’s Dolby Atmos support – but the Formovie’s speakers do the job pretty well if you don’t.
The $3000 Formovie Theater offers features and picture quality not found in any other UST projector even remotely in this price range. Thanks to the triple laser engine and Dolby Vision, it delivers a bright image, high contrast and accurate colours. And if you’re not entirely satisfied with the image right out of the box, there is a wealth of controls to adjust and calibrate it.
When you’re not in pure mode for movies, it’s also a great projector to use with some daylight streaming in for sports and regular TV. And the audio capabilities are a solid bonus, giving you a very simple setup if you don’t want to enjoy a 5.1 surround sound system. The main drawbacks are the lack of Netflix support and a little noisy fan.
Best of all, the price is low for a floor cabinet projector, and spending an extra two thousand dollars doesn’t give you much. In fact, if you really want Dolby Vision, Formovie Theater is the only UST projector option available.
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