There isn't a Better Projector at this Price Point + Unmatched Service
Verdict: 4.5/5 stars overall
- Almost perfectly implemented Dolby Vision (DV) Bright mode
- Ample brightness for a decently well light-controlled room
- Excellent contrast
- Excellent (almost inky) blacks
- Amazing (but accurate) colors that pop
- Highly tweakable with a multitude of picture controls
- Can be set-it-and-forget-it
- Better menus than most projectors using Android TV
- Great bang for the buck
- ProjectorScreen.com's caring & dedicated service (for peace of mind)
- (Optional) Adding HDFury further elevates performance
- (Optional) Adding Zidoo Z9X (or similar) adds DV benefit to any video
- Prone to dust blobs (but addressable)
- Finicky HDMI connectivity (struggles to lock onto signal)
- Can lose wi-fi (but fixable)
- Focus isn't as good, as adjustable as it could be
- Not as sharp as single-laser projectors
- DV Dark needs improvement via firmware
- Initial placement is laborious (but also true of all USTs I've had)
- No HDR10+ support (but still advertised on Formovie.com product page's specs section)
- No 3D support (but, to be fair, was never promised)
This review is this home theater fan's own and not influenced by other posts or reviews. I've settled on Formovie Theater for most of my home theater (HT) needs, with a secondary projector, a BenQ HT2550A, to satisfy my continued 3D hunger. I have a 7.1.4 home theater Dolby ATMOS/DTS:X set-up, and a 145" white 1.3 gain screen (a front PJ and ALR/CLR screens don't work). My HT room is fully light controlled. My recent experience with projectors includes USTs like Fengmi T1, Vava Chroma, Wemax A300 and Xiaomi 4K, as well as front PJs like Epson 5050UB, Optoma UHD50X, and BenQ HT3550. I've been into projectors since 2007, and been a HT hobbyist since the early 90's. This ain't a cheap hobby, even being budget conscious.
Let's start with why you'd want the Formovie Theater. Its Chinese counterpart, the T1, which I previously owned (then regretted selling) is one of the first projectors to have Dolby Vision and garner great word of mouth here at AVSForum, mainly given its amazing colors, contrast and blacks, all at an attractive, affordable price point. But, it needed to be imported from China with the risks that go with it. Fengmi, Wemax and Xioami have been known for 4-5 years now for having great contrast and blacks using Appotronics's ALPD 3.0 (and now 4.0) technology. Vava & others using the same tech don't have whatever additional 'secret' engineering those 3 brands (and soon Appotronics's own T1/Theater clone) do. And, Theater is basically the T1 with better picture controls and Android TV sans the cluttered, bloated FengOS with Chinese streaming content & ads galore.
I've tested Theater without & with a HDFury video processor (VRROOM in my case) in the mix. You don't need it, but it does allow you to dial in custom DV (specifically low level DV) settings that squeeze bit better highlights and details.
Additionally, Zidoo's Z9X media player allows you to push all video to LLDV so you get dynamic tone mapping and quasi-DV like picture quality with SDR & HDR10 videos. Zidoo's Dolby VS10 processing engine is really impressive. Z9X is made for local media playback, your own ripped Blu-ray and UHD discs, not streaming services.
I also use a nVidia Shield TV Pro, primarily for streaming content. Watching 'Top Gun: Maverick' (thrice already, such a cool flick), it just looks fantastic on Theater. It should look even better on disc when it's out. Rich colors and great details, especially noticeable in Tom Cruise & Jennifer Connelly's close-ups, you can make out their skin pores, wrinkles and all. I've actually been finding myself revisiting standard Blu-ray movies as well, because coupled with Shield TV's upscaling, they're often close to or indistinguishable from 4K at actual viewing distance. Formovie Theater just renders any video better. It's a tough choice whether to use Zidoo & enjoy quasi-DV applied to regular Blu-ray or opt for Shield TV with mild upscaling for slightly better details.
Of course, whether using Zidoo, Shield TV or any UHD disc player, where the Formovie Theater really shines is with native DV disc content. Watch the documentary 'Awaken' and be just blown away, 'Aquaman' impresses with IMAX scenes that pop, 'Dune' looks epic, 'Gemini Man' has hyper-realistic and detail (as its 60 frames/second), 'The Matrix Resurrections' has lots o' digitally-shot detail, 'No Time to Die' looks gorgeous, and there are many more.
Managing the Cons:
Dust blobs, aargh! Let's just say I've been unlucky to have had to to deal with this more than others, pretty sure. Mine appears to have happened during shipment transit. You can do 4 things to address it. First, use a lens cleaning pen to try & get rid of dust particles on the exterior of the lens. If that doesn't do it, use an air blower (but not canned air) to blow air on the vent in the direction of the airflow. You can tell which way by placing your hand on either side of the projector to check. If this also doesn't fully get rid of dreaded dust blob(s), you can either ask your dealer for a swap-out for a new unit (what I ultimately had to do) or open up the unit & attempt cleaning inside the lens assembly. I'm so glad I bought from ProjectorScreen.com because they provided excellent support & guidance. I highly recommend asking them to pre-screen your Theater unit before they ship it. Not just for potential dust blobs, but ensuring focus and geometry are both good. They are probably the best A/V vendor I've ever dealt with.
On HDMI connection issues, not much can be done about it. Both T1 & Theater suffer from finicky signal lock issues, taking 10-15 seconds to finally lock in after resolution & color space changes. This happens when switching inputs, starting a video from the user interface, and stopping a video. In my case, buying an expensive 8K fiber optical cable (40ft from HDFury to Theater) helped some, as did premium HDMI cables between my media players and HDFury. To make sure it wasn't the HDFury causing the issue, I did try connecting a media player directly to Theater, but had the same issues. If my set-up had allowed for my A/V equipment to sit near the Theater & use short HDMI cables, this maybe would've made the difference, but I shouldn't have to do so when using an 8K fiber optical cable. Didn't have this issue with my previous projectors.
Lost wi-fi problem, which others have also posted about here & in the T1 thread. My Theater unit wouldn't see my wi-fi network after a firmware update. Rebooting didn't help, and I had to factory reset to get wi-fi back.
On focus adjustment using the remote, the focus ring on T1 or Theater doesn't go quite far enough to either edge as it could or should. So, even with the left arrow maxed out, focus, especially on the top right & left corners remain kinda soft. This is more noticeable in screens larger than 100", like mine at 145". Focus does improve on its own after the unit has been powered on for about 30 minutes, but if you want perfect focus, the only way is to open the unit & manually push the focus ring (then leave it be, and not use the remote to focus).
HDR10+ support, don't think so. Fengmi themselves have added confusion by showing it being supported in T1/Theater promo pics and their official Formovie.com product page, specifications. To make sure, I plugged in a Fire TV Stick 4K Max into HDMI1 port on Theater and fired up 'The Tomorrow War'. On-screen indication is just HDR10, but I also watched parts of the movie, as well as parts of 'Thirteen Lives', and didn't notice any dynamic color or brightness variances within or between scenes. I'm assuming it's just standard HDR.
Initial placement of this projector takes time & patience (also true of USTs in general). Centering perfectly, leveling, moving left/right, and having to do it all over again. It's all manual. I wish UST projectors had 4 adjustable feet vs. two. In my case, I needed to buy furniture shims to level the back, in addition to using the built in front adjustable feet to get it placed just right.
Other Notable Aspects:
Formovie Theater has rather impressive built-in audio powered by renowned Bowers & Wilkins. I use a dedicated 7.1.4 audio system, and don't use the built-in audio. But, if you don't & might be planning to buy a soundbar to pair with the Theater, you probably don't need it.
The Theater supports CEC, which is useful for powering on/off the unit as well as other CEC devices you have. In my case, I can use either the Theater's remote or Shield TV's to power on/off the projector, AVR and media player, and control volume.
If you're planning to use Formovie Theater with some ambient light, an ALR screen will help. But, you absolutely don't need one. Standard screens with beveled frames are problematic because the bottom edge blocks the bottom of the projected image from the screen.
A few (mostly manageable) cons aside, Formovie Theater is an awesome projector for the price. It's better than all PJ's I've owned or tested to date, and that includes the highly regarded Epson 5050UB (also at this price point), various 4K front-projection DLPs, and other single & tri-laser USTs like Xiaomi, Wemax & Vava.
Not that I'm expecting it, but if Fengmi were to add HDR10+ & especially 3D support to Theater, it would make it an absolute unbeatable projector. I don't expect it'd be all that hard to implement via firmware like Vava (3D support) and AWOL (HDR10+, with DV & 3D in the works) have done. Pretty please Fengmi!
When you have family members that don't care about this HT hobby nor care critically about PQ say "wow" and are amazed by the picture Formovie Theater throws, you have a winner. We don't go to the movie theater much when the home experience can often best it. And for those of you who are picky HT enthusiasts like me, Formovie Theater is the best there is for this affordable price. It's really a great bang for the buck. You can't do a better PJ, any kind, for this price.
And, seriously, don't risk it, don't consider buying from anywhere else but ProjectorScreen.com (cuz they truly provide the best support).