This review of the Formovie X5 comes from our French friend Greg of MondoProjos.com. You can find the original article in French here. The review was done on the European version of the Formovie X5 projector, so the specs of the American version may be different. All opinions are solely his.
If you are regulars of readers of our blog, you'll know the young brand Formovie which is the international version of the Chinese brand Fengmi. They quickly established themselves as a top contender in the projection industry thanks to the wildly successful triple laser ultra short throw projector, the Formovie Theater.
Today, it's a more traditional model that I'm going to have the honor of testing in depth and exclusively, the Formovie X5 home theater projector. This sleek dark cube brings together months of the brand's advancements in home cinema and, let's face it, is more than likely to catch the eye of those expecting a beautiful tapestry of visual delight from classic front facing projectors that sit further away from the screen like in a real commercial cinema.
About The Formovie X5
The Formovie X5 uses the smaller DMD 0.47 chip from Texas Instruments (DLP471TPFQQ). With a native 1920×1080 resolution, this chip makes it possible to display all the elements of a 4K UHD image (3840×2160) separately but at such a speed that the human eye does not perceive the operation.
Its video processing features frame interpolation to reduce any trace of judder. The X5 is 4K HDR10/HLG compatible, so only with static metadata.
Its high power light source (the brand announced 4200 Ansi lumens!) is an ALPD laser with phosphor wheel. Formovie's marketing claims 2450 CVIA lumens. I won't go into the CVIA Lumens debate, the new standard for brightness measurements introduced by Chinese manufacturers, whose outlandish brightness figures have in the past been the subject of lawsuits initiated and won by Epson. We will be satisfied for the present X5 review with the good old standard Ansi lumens for our measurements.
With its throw ratio of 1.27:1, the X5 is an optical device that can be placed further from the screen than their ultra short throw projector.
This new model comes straight from China using the new FengOS 3.0 interface. We have here an all-in-one configuration integrating speakers as well as advanced smart TV functions. These features were designed for the Asian market and many will not be of much use internationally, with the exception of perhaps the media player.
In terms of sound reproduction and built in-speakers, this is the second laser DLP projector to be designed in partnership with Denon. Remember, the audio part of the little Fengmi S5 was already the result of the association with the famous Japanese brand of audiophile and home cinema products.
The Formovie X5 is a small lightweight home theater projector that allows it to operate as a portable projector. It weighs a mere 8.77 pounds. It has low profile proportions with 8.5"x8.2"x6.5" dimensions.
The lens is centrally located on the X5.
Since the X5 does not have a mechanical zoom, its position determines the size of the image. It needs to be positioned 110 inches from the screen to make a 100 inch image size.
The keystone correction is particularly elaborate. Thus, in the event of the image overflowing outside the screen, an automated option will reduce its size to the correct format. Ditto if there is an obstacle in the field, the image will be reduced to make the intruder disappear (obstacle avoidance). Focus management can be configured to be fully automated.
The projector has a large number of sockets: 3.5mm audio, RJ45 LAN port, 1 × USB2.0, 2 × HDMI 2.1 (including one eARC) and S/PDIF. Attention, as often with this type of device, the power supply is external, in the form of a rather imposing transformer block.
By default, the projector comes with the HDMI sockets configured in 1.4. However, to benefit from 4K HDR, it will be necessary to activate the 2.1 mode.
A glass protection covers the entire front façade and the whole chassis exudes solidness and quality. Under it there are 3 speakers, a pair of 2×12W is placed on the sides and one of 6W at the back. This configuration allows a better diffusion of the soundstage throughout the room.
Its gray remote control connects via Bluetooth, offering the possibility of controlling the device from any location in your room without having to worry about aiming at an infrared sensor.
As already indicated, this projector is a smart projector with an in-house OS called FengOS 3.0. However, to have access to the main streaming channels available from Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. you will have to connect an external stick, a TV box or a multimedia gateway to it, because remember that the projector is first of all designed for Chinese streaming apps.
The menus also include a media player that reads all the video, photo and audio files you give it to play via your home network or a USB key.
The HDMI link offers the largest number of factory-configured picture selections: “sports, child, standard, movie, showy, display, Game, and a user memory”. If you are not using an HDMI connection, the number of selections available will be reduced.
In terms of colorimetry, no CMS on the 3 dimensions of the Gamut is offered. It's heartbreaking because this function is easy to add, especially since it is present on the international versions of the devices marketed by the brand the (X5 does not yet exist in a global version though it's coming soon!)
To adjust the colors, it goes through an adjustment of the RGB levels but which mixes Gain and Bias. For the Gamma, it will be necessary to play with contrast and brightness. The laser power can be adjusted through 4 selections "Day, View, Night and Extra silent". With HDMI sources it is possible to activate the dynamic contrast. Note that this is not available with the internal media player.
The projector certainly does not have a Gamma editor but the management of this parameter is rather well done (we will see it in the technical verdict part of this review) and then the Gamma EOTF (4K HDR) is selected automatically and it has correctly detected metadata at 1000, 2000 and 3000 nits! A first for this type of projector.
Its internal video processing includes an MEMC image interpolation device that can be activated on 3 levels (low, medium and high). It is now possible to control it directly from the broadcast image whereas with the precursors of this type of device at Femgi it was necessary to go through the box of the device parameters before being able to return to the broadcast of the film or of the series and to judge the effect produced. With the X5 this is no longer the case, we can intervene directly, we are very happy about this.
X5 Technical Evaluation
Colorimetry and Gamma:
As expected in a projector that is not triple laser, the Gamut only reaches 77.9% of the DCI-P3. If it is certainly better than the rec.709 references (105.7%), we are far from the color spaces achieved by the triple laser solutions.
This new Formovie home cinema projector nevertheless continues accumulate wins because it is the first projector of this brand to offer an image mode out of the box that does not require significant corrections. Indeed, the “ Movie” mode is measured at 6500K with a deltaE difference of 4.7 and a Gamma of 2.12.
Due to the lack of CMS available, I was only able to calibrate it partially by reducing the deltaE difference to 2.58 with a color temperature of 6454K and a better positioned Gamma of 2.21.
You will find all the changes made in the summary table below:
Contrast and Brightness:
If the 4200 Ansi lumens promised on paper, it obviously is not there, the X5 is still a particularly bright model. With 1832 lumens after calibration obtained in the "night" power mode (therefore one of the least energy-consuming), it is capable of lighting a 16:9 screen of 170 inches on an SDR source while maintaining 16 fL of luminance and 134 in HDR (26 fL recommended). By changing the laser power mode, you can almost double the light output to obtain 3329 lumens and without the usual greenish cast.
(At ProjectorScreen.com we were only able to achieve a maximum measurement of 2500 ANSI lumens so expect more testing on its way)
By consulting our tables of the thirty or so projectors tested over the past 16 months, the X5 quite simply offers a record figure taking into account the conservation of a cinematic image.
Regarding the contrast, its value is impacted by the choice of a small DMD chip size and the ALPD 3.0 light source. Appotronics, the company that designed and developed the APLD lasers, aptly touts a native contrast of 900:1 for regular throw projectors like the X5 and 3000:1 for ultra short throw models. I have already demonstrated many times that these figures are in fact realistic and obtained in real life at home.
I now perform two types of contrast measurements, the first probe facing the projector to avoid the impact of the screen and the second facing the canvas. I also added an Ansi contrast reading (read in a semi-dedicated environment) using my new measurement probe.
I therefore note a FOFO (Full On Full Off) contrast facing the screen, i.e. the sequential contrast which alternates a completely black pattern followed by a completely white one. For the X5 it is 973:1 after calibration. It is not as good as USTs but it is one of the best measurements obtained with a DLP laser projector equipped with a DMD 0.47 chip. It is also a native value therefore without the aid of a modulation of the luminous flux and without negative effect on the dynamics.
More interestingly, the ANSI contrast is particularly high, at 430:1. It is therefore almost 3 times better than that of the recently tested ViewSonic X1-4K or BenQ W2710i.
Note that the dynamic contrast option present on the HDMI source in the " custom " image parameters has no influence on the measurements, as you can see in the table of measurements facing the probe below.
As already indicated, the X5 cube is not compatible with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. But when it comes to handling HDR10 and HLG dynamic metadata, there's no choice here but to keep filling out the X5's list of good points. Indeed, and unlike many 4K HDR projectors which only manage encodings up to 1000 nits, the new Formovie reproduced with the right level of contrast and brightness the 2000 and 3000 nits excerpts submitted, without the intervention of my part in the picture settings menus. This is an appreciable automatism for the user.
Sharpness and precision of images:
I am often asked the question of the impact of keystone correction on the image, specifically if it really alters the quality. It is up to each individual and also depends on the extent of the correction applied but, damn it!, in the case of the X5 there is no comparison! I can only encourage you to deactivate all these options because the impact on precision and definition is significant. This is all the more damaging since the sharpness of the X5 is among the best on this type of device, with great precision of details and cutouts. In short, it is necessary to position the X5 perfectly in front of the screen otherwise we lose quality.
As is often the case with Fengmi/Xiaomi, it will be necessary to reduce the level of sharpness from +50 to +20 to avoid the harmful effects of this type of device such as video noise or the presence of double contours. The choice of an all-glass optical unit is beneficial for the precision of the image and this does not need to be supported by an artificially excessive sharpness parameter.
Fluidity and motion handling:
As you know, DMD 0.47 chip without frame interpolation (MEMC) is judder assured. Fortunately, the designers of the X5 did not omit this part among the options. It works on 3 levels of intervention more or less marked “low, middle or high”. As soon as the "low" mode is activated, the improvement is noticeable but with slight remains of judder. You must select "middle or high" to obtain a perfect reproduction of the tracking shot.
The MEMC of the X5 can certainly be completely deactivated but I do not recommend it because you lose precision in the tracking shots and above all you experience visible slowdowns.
Note that this option works on SDR and HDR sources.
Outside game mode, the display delay is significant with more than 160 ms of difference. The “Game” selection reduces it to 42.5 ms on a UHD 3840×2160 signal at 60hz. It is not the best in this field but it remains confined below the fateful bar of 50 ms, which allows it to receive the “Gaming” qualification from Mondoprojos.fr.
Overscan and gray frame of DMD 0.47 gray chip:
Out of the box, the X5 does not apply any cropping to the original image of the source connected to it. As for the too famous typical gray border linked to the presence of inactive micro mirrors on the DMD 0.47 chip, it is visually detectable and has its usual width of 2 cm.
The X5 uses an ALPD 3.0 laser solution with a phosphor wheel. This technical solution, which does not make it possible to benefit from a Gamut reaching 100% of the rec.2020 color space, has the advantage of avoiding any speckle effect. In fact, the image remains smooth without the presence of multiple small dots visible on the plain backgrounds.
The X5 is the third front facing projector for which I have been given the opportunity to measure the color distribution over the entire image thanks to the very recent addition of a specific probe whose measurement beam is so narrow that it makes it possible to separate the zones in which the readings are carried out. The deviations from the center of the image which serves as a reference are measured in deltaE; the higher it is, the worse the uniformity.
By making a comparison with the two previous models (ViewSonic X1-4K and BenQ W2710i) we note that the X5 is the one affected by the largest differences, resulting in a less homogeneous color distribution than that of the previous models.
Built In Sound System
The second commendation dedicated to the designers of this device I address to the choice of a Denon sound system. It's very simple, so far and in my opinion the best device integrated into a projector was that of the Formovie Theater with Bowers and Wilkins speakers. Well, the X5 manages to surpass it with an ample, powerful sound stage and with convincing bass! It's precise, dynamic and never aggressive in a 322 square foot room. This also helps with the portability of the projector allowing you to forgo external speakers for a casual backyard movie night.
That said, the great Denon speakers pale in comparison to a real surround sound home cinema installation. But if you're planning to use the integrated sound system you'll be quite pleased.
After testing two noisy projectors, what a joy this X5 is! With a residual surrounding noise of 34.9 dB, it arrives in its " night" power mode at just 35.2 dB. The difference is therefore minimal and for once we can thank the engineers of Formovie for not having neglected this part, so important it is still necessary to remember it. In short, the X5 is a discreet. Note also that the full power of the laser can be used since the sound level meter only rises to 35.9 dB.
Power consumption :
We continue with the good points. Despite very high brightness, power consumption is more than measured. Here are the readings in order of the four power modes available, from highest to lowest “ View, day, night, silent”: 143W, 142.7W, 95.8W, 79.8W. This is great news for your wallets and for the planet, without sacrificing the pleasure of home cinema.
One Expert's Opinion
After the objective measurements comes our subjective analysis of the visual sensations provided by the image of the Formovie X5 home cinema projector.
It is always complicated to transcribe precisely the pleasure or conversely the reluctance if not even the execration that our regular throw projector had on my retinas. There is however a key to know if I am really excited by a device, it is the length of the dedicated article and more precisely at this revealing stage the development of this subjective part.
For the basis of an enthusiastic opinion on a new 4K model and in a period when 1080p SDR sources are still legion, the projector must be comfortable not only with 4K HDR programs but also with films and series remaining in Full HD.
This contract is fully fulfilled by the X5 whose video processing and 4k upscaling of our Blu-Rays means that it is not limited to UHD or 4K sources. On the 1080p clips of Fury, the tank crew's odyssey through the final months of the war in Germany, at no point do I regret the absence of native 4K. The image benefits from a convincing upscaling.
I also salute the work done in the factory on the colorimetry. The transcription is indeed faithful to the original and allows you to enjoy the film serenely without constantly having your finger on the remote control and the image settings menus on the screen. It's castle life!
The colors of Jack Reacher's intro scene are sublime and natural.
On the subject of contrast and despite measures that confine it very close to 1000:1, its Ansi level manages to counterbalance the perceived visual effect and we are far ahead of all this string of 4K DLP projectors floundering in the 500:1 range.
With 4K HDR sources and more specifically Aquaman's 4K Blu-Ray and that famous throne room scene with the rose window in the background, the X5 does well. The mapping is fine, which allows you to benefit from all the details of this part.
This disc also contains a number of nocturnal scenes, including the battle against the Kraken, and if of course I'm always fond of more contrast, this point is not harmful for the image delivered by the new Formovie.
Grayed out, I switched to excerpts from Mad Max Fury Road, perfect sequences to assess the level of precision and detail provided by the optics of this import model. Relax Max! : whether on close or wide shots, I took full peepers! I will end this passage on precision by not forgetting the work of image interpolation which is essential to benefit from tracking shots with the greatest precision and fluidity. Up to the judder! And there too it is impeccable. In short, it's like a good wine with this X5: we look at the bottle, its label, then the product poured into the glass, if it has thigh, bouquet, luster, color, and then comes the verdict in the mouth, the multiple sensations to the taste buds, if there are shivers of pleasure...
Let's start this part by getting rid of the dust on the bottle, so be sorry because there really isn't much with the X5 , it will then give me full latitude to list its qualities.
The new Formovie is marketed in Asia and intended for local cellars. It is only available for us in import without adapting its smartTV functions to the European market. If this is easily circumvented with a boxTV or an external stick, you will still have to be satisfied with menus only in English and absent options. However, let's hope in the future for the production of a global version (hypothetical for the time being; I have no information on this subject), and for that matter associated with a local guarantee and after-sales service. Here, it is necessary to be aware of it before any inclination to purchase.
If this obstacle does not put you off, then the X5 will dazzle you, both by its luminous power and by the fidelity of its colors, right out of the box. The fluidity aid will ward off any specter of judder, to the benefit of the quality of an optical unit that renders grace to all the most swarming and detailed wide shots. This goes for picking both SDR and HDR. I toasted, in a good way. With the X5 , drunkenness is so beautiful! On the strength of this affordable and well-born as well as balanced grape variety, Formovie will continue to dazzle home cinema enthusiasts. For all its benefits, it is awarded with enthusiasm a Gold Award of excellence. Sommelier's words: it's a great vintage!
Ah! To the gossips that here and there spread on the net that Mondoprojos has a dependence on Chinese soil, yours truly will answer that it is only up to the competition from wherever it comes to submit projectors worthy of satisfying our wine taster. We only ask that!
I enjoyed (beware the list is long! Hips! ):
- The seriousness of its assembly
- The price
- The discretion of operation,
- THE DENON SOUND!!!! (in caps because it deserves it!)
- Color fidelity right out of the box
- The luminous power
- The fluidity and motion handling
- Input lag
What I don't like:
- An import projector not designed for the European market.