Formovie THEATER Review – Who Needs A Television Anymore… | Tech Reviews
TVs are getting bigger and bigger, and those who want even more diagonals are more likely to use a projector. They are often large, have to be far away and don’t necessarily look good. That is about to change with ultra-short-throw laser beamers. Just like with the Formovie THEATER, a 4K HDR Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos Laser “TV”.
The “TV” in the name is in quotation marks because it is marketed as a laser TV but is technically a projector. Diagonals of up to 150 inches are possible with a distance of just a few centimeters from the wall or screen. Thanks to ALDP 4.0 technology, 4K resolution and Dolby Vision, the picture should also be able to keep up with current televisions. Does that also apply to OLED? A Bowers&Wilkins speaker system is also housed directly in the front, so theoretically you don’t even need a separate audio system. A small note in advance about the photos in the article: Since the projection and the camera don’t get along so well, there are rainbow effects and color distortions – but these only appear in the photos, not during normal use. In general, it is very difficult to document the image quality in photos.
With 2800 ANSI lumens of maximum brightness, it should also be usable in bright rooms, even if that’s generally not a good idea for projectors. On the software side, you do without your own solution and rely on Android TV 11.0. Last but not least, it promises more than 100% coverage of the Rec.2020 color space. On the connection side, there are 3x HDMI 2.1, one with eARC support, 2x USB 2.0 Type A and one each of analog audio out (3.5mm jack), S/PDIF and Ethernet. According to the data sheet, VRR is not supported, but ALLM (Automatic Low Latency Mode) is on board. There’s also MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Correction), which I’m personally not a fan of. But here’s the good news: all the notorious “image enhancements” are deactivated by default, at least they were on my test device.
The scope of delivery is quickly ticked off: In addition to the projector itself, the remote control and power cable are also included, that’s it. HDMI cables or similar are not included. But that’s enough, you usually already have cables, if you need them at all. If you don’t want to connect a console or the like, you can simply use the integrated Android TV and do without external players altogether. And if you have one or more consoles, you usually already have the cables for them. The remote control is then nothing special and is reminiscent of those who are present with FireTV and Co. A special feature is a large YouTube button and a button to access the projector settings. It also uses Bluetooth, so it does not have to be pointed at the projector. small side note, For those of you who, like me, prefer to use rechargeable batteries instead of batteries: The remote control doesn’t like them at all and therefore hardly ever worked for me and when it did then it worked unreliably. By the way, there were no batteries included, you should have thought of that with a device in this price range.
Set-up and start-up are then also fairly simple, although the Formovie THEATER has no automatic keystone correction. Since it’s a more stationary projector, that’s bearable as it only needs to be run once for the initial setup. The focus can then be readjusted manually, but that wasn’t necessary in my case. Then just set up Android TV and you’re done. With my test device, there was also an update of the system.
As mentioned, the software is Android TV in version 11.0, which basically supports all common streaming services and then almost all of the not so common ones. Supplying apps is therefore not a problem, nor is control via Google Assistant. HDMI-CEC is also supported, so connected devices can be controlled directly via the remote control. It was easy to control my FireTV and the volume of the connected AV receiver.
The settings menu of the Formovie THEATER itself is also quite clear and you can find your way around quickly. Something can also be changed quickly from a series or film, even focus and keystone correction can be reached directly.
Otherwise it’s just Android TV and works accordingly. Google Assistant and Chromecast are directly integrated, so most functions can also be easily controlled via smartphone or voice. The only minor negative point is the volume control. If you try to adjust the volume by several steps, it tends to jump over the target and instead of 3, you then increase the volume by 8 or more steps. You get used to it and then regulate more slowly, but it’s not nice. The boot process also takes a bit longer than I’m used to. Then the picture is there, but the menu reacts rather sluggishly for the first 15 to 20 seconds. After that, however, there are no more problems.
There are also two adjustment wheels on the front, which can be used to adjust the feet on the front. This allows the image to be aligned a little more precisely. On the right side there is a mute switch for the integrated microphone if you don’t use voice assistants or just want to temporarily deactivate it.
So now we come to the most important thing: the image quality. As already mentioned, the Formovie THEATER is bright enough to be able to see everything even during the day without being darkened. Of course, I tested mainly in the dark living room. The image is quite washed out in bright surroundings and the contrast suffers greatly. This is not due to Formovie, but to the technology itself.
Once in the darkened room, the result looks very different. According to the marketing material, the contrast is up to 3000:1 and from a purely subjective point of view the contrast is really good. More about measured values etc. but a little later, first about my impression. It’s really good – the picture is very sharp even at close range and the colors look really good. HDR content in particular looks very lively and rich in contrast. Even in a direct comparison with current (mini) LED televisions, it does not have to hide under any circumstances – quite the opposite.
The only time I was a bit puzzled was during the movie 1917 – the sky burnt out in SDR was still visible in HDR, however the tones were very unrealistic and looked badly distorted. Unfortunately, I cannot judge whether this is due to the film itself, the transmission or the Formovie THEATER.
Apart from that I couldn’t see any problems and in short the picture was really good and hardly distinguishable from an OLED. In a direct comparison, OLED only wins due to the significantly lower black value, because in the case of the Formovie THEATER this does not appear as pitch-black as with OLED. In addition to the projection itself, there can also be other reasons for this. White walls cause reflections and brighten the image, resulting in a brighter black level. In a room prepared for a projector, the result should be even better than in my test.
Thanks to the “image enhancements” deactivated by default, there was no soap opera effect and the image looks pleasantly natural. I especially like the “Film” mode for all types of content. The gaming mode then activates the various image enhancements such as ALLM and MEMC. It didn’t bother me when gaming with the Xbox, but it’s less suitable for other content and colors and contrast suffer as a result. In the end, it just stayed in film mode for me, which didn’t bother me with titles like Forza Horizon.
All in all, the image quality is really good and it’s just fun – even if the 80 inches are almost a little too big in my case. But only almost 😉 .
Finally, a few measured values for the picture, because they are definitely impressive: the important sRGB color space is covered 100 percent, Adobe RGB still 97 percent and the film standard DCI-P3 99 percent. The picture is theoretically even suitable for color-critical work, even if I would rather refrain from doing so. It only achieves optimal values in completely dark surroundings and working on at least 80 inches is perhaps not optimal either.
Loudspeakers are located in the front. They rely on Bowers&Wilkins speakers, which should ensure a decent sound. The Dolby Atmos certification underlines this again. In terms of sound, the setup is also quite good and it is sufficient in small rooms. Dialogues are clearly understandable and even a little spatial sound comes into its own. In large rooms, for which the Formovie THEATER is also most likely intended, the system should then quickly run out of breath. What’s also missing is depth, so an option for an external subwoofer wouldn’t go amiss. Alternatively, the sound can also be output to an external receiver via jack, TOSLINK or HDMI eARC.
In everyday life
As always, a short paragraph about quirks and special features that I noticed in everyday life. The high contrast and high brightness for subtitles was a little annoying for me. They stand out so much from the picture that they can be annoying in dark scenes. I also noticed a kind of rainbow effect when the contrast between the subtitles and the image was very large. It didn’t always happen, and it didn’t happen all the time, but I just noticed it.
Then there’s the fan. Every projector has one, including the Formovie THEATER Laser TV. But it doesn’t really bother me and always stays in the background. Even in very quiet passages there is nothing more than a minimal noise – if you sit close enough. At a seat distance of 3 meters you can no longer hear him. And you don’t want to sit much closer to it with a diagonal of at least 80 inches.
What is then still important: A really smooth screen. While you can get away with a classic projector with slight bumps, that doesn’t work here. Every slight crease, every crease or other unevenness is noticeable due to the steep projection angle and you should definitely consider that if you want to buy a laser TV like the Formovie THEATER. The photos at the beginning of the post give a good impression of what I mean. A reasonable frame screen is then quickly at several hundred euros, just in the necessary size for the up to 150 inches of the Formovie THEATER.
The infrared sensor, which detects whether a person is too close to the lens, is also quite useful. Then the image will be dimmed automatically and a warning will be displayed to avoid eye damage. This was very practical, especially when aligning the screen and projector itself, because I almost looked into the lens every now and then. And especially if you have children, you should be happy about it, because in most cases the projector should be at exactly the right height so that children can look straight into it.
A few things that I couldn’t test: The service life of the lamp is specified as 22,000 hours, which of course couldn’t be checked given the short test duration. Theoretically, with around 4 hours of daily use, the bulb should last for 13 years. One thing TVs have over the Formovie Theater: You don’t have to dust the lens. After a good 2 weeks of use, we noticed darker spots in the picture that we couldn’t explain at first. They turned out to be just dust, once the lens was cleaned the image was fine again. So you should think about that from time to time.
Let’s finish. I honestly have to say I’m pretty blown away by the image quality. I usually know projectors as a bit pale and if you want a reasonable picture you have to have a complete home cinema for the price of a mid-range car. The projectors alone often cost a well-equipped Golf.
This is changing and the Formovie THEATER is a perfect example of this. Of course, it is anything but a bargain, but compared to extremely large televisions such as LG’s Monster OLED with over 90 inches, it is no longer that expensive at 3600 euros. In addition, if there is enough space, a diagonal of 150 inches can be covered – try that with a television. On top of that, there is an excellent picture with crisp colors, great contrast, HDR and Dolby Vision support, coupled with a subtle design that fits in almost anywhere.
My only criticisms are the imperfect black level – which is also partly due to the environment – and AndroidTV 11.0 as the operating system. The latter is more of a personal preference than a real criticism. However, such a projector comes with limitations that do not affect normal televisions so much. A darkened room with anechoic walls is more or less mandatory for optimal results and the necessary seat pitch to be able to really enjoy 150 inches should not be underestimated.