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Lifewire / Nick Jaynes
Outstanding 4K HDR image
Better corner sharpness than some competitors
Three HDMI 2 ports
No 3D capability
Remote signal doesn’t reach much past 20-foot distance
Only a single, mono speaker
The Vivitek HK2288 is a distinctive standout in the sub-$2,000 home cinema projector segment. It has more connectivity options and better image quality than other projectors in its price class.
In the middle range of home cinema projectors, there are plenty of options that offer 4K HDR image quality and plenty of lumens of light output for under $10,000. These projectors, like the Vivitek HK2288, attempt to accomplish a lot for a relatively modest price tag with a mixed amount of success. In our experience, they ultimately lack the subtlety and nuance of image quality—and some of the features—that higher-end projectors return. That means the most discerning home-cinephile will be able to tell the difference.
But does the $2,000 Vivitek HK2288 suffer the same pitfalls as other mid-range 4K projectors? To find out, we tested it to see if its performance, image quality, audio quality, setup, and usability, matched its price tag.
Pulling it out of the box, and the first thing you’ll notice is that the Vivitek HK2288 is dominated by its large lens. This is just a hint of the incredible image projection quality, but we’ll get to that shortly.
Aside from the domineering lens which takes up most of the unit’s front, the design is good. Clearly, designers understood this would be a projector most likely destined to be ceiling-mounted. Accordingly, they put exterior controls on the back, left of the connectivity ports. The focus knob is mounted on top of the unit, above the lens. However, since it’s uncovered, it’s subject to being bumped out of focus. That won’t matter if it’s mounted up on the ceiling out of reach of most passersby.
Overall, the Vivitek HK2288 feels sturdy and well built. It’s rather heavy, though, clocking in at just shy of 20 pounds. So, if you do mount it on your ceiling, make sure you do so securely. You’d hate to have this projector come loose; those replacement lamps aren’t cheap. Buyers who want a projector in black rather than white will be wise to look to the Vivitek HK2488, which is a similar projector but with a black body.
Many of the projectors in the mid-range are intended to be fairly plug-and-play. The Vivitek HK2288 takes that to a whole other level Turn the projector on and it defaults to Auto, which will be more than sufficient for most viewers—even those who are a bit more discerning.
Some other projectors at or around this price point offer an HDR mode, which further enhances even non-HDR native images. The Vivitek HK2288 does not do that. Send it a native HDR source, however, and it will unlock additional HDR adjustment menus.
The Vivitek HK2288 Home Cinema Projector holds its value in the market even as the price tags of its competitors drop off.
If you’re wanting to fully dial in colors on your projector for your room, media type, and light pollution, you’re out of luck; the Vivitek HK2288 won’t let you get too far into the weeds. There are primary and secondary primary adjustments. However, there is only a single gain control for greyscale, for example.
Other than niggling complaints about detailed color and image adjustments, the Vivitek HK2288 is incredibly easy to set up and use. Remember, this is the kind of projector designed for someone who wants an incredible image at an accessible price without having to spend hours fiddling with it. After all, some consumers want the best without having to be an expert or technical wizard. In this way, the Vivitek HK2288 shines.
Like we mentioned in the introduction, the Vivitek HK2288 is the kind of projector that takes the 4K HDR image offered by some of its competitors and refines it—in the aims of challenging other projectors well above its weight. By that, we mean that we found the corners of the HK2288’s image noticeably crisper than even the Optoma UHD60, which we ranked as our runner-up for best 4K gaming projector of 2019.
While the Vivitek HK2288 is incredibly crisp and returns a true 8.3-million pixel 3840 x 2160 resolution 4K image, it is not without its faults. Images are a bit on the cooler side than we typically like to see. Black level detail performance, too, is a bit lacking for the price point.
For buyers who want a nuanced and crisp image from a virtual plug-and-play projector without having to step up nearly the $10,000 mark, there are few superior projectors to pick from.
This projector is rated at 2,000 lumens (1,000 fewer than the extremely bright Optoma UHD60). However, by our approximation, it didn’t seem quite that bright. Granted, even getting close to 2,000 lumens is more than adequate for most viewers. However, some might find it lacking illumination power in rooms with some light pollution.
Some projectors, like the UHD60, give users the opportunity to fake HDR imagery on non-HDR content by using a preset HDR mode. The Vivitek HK2288 doesn’t offer such an HDR mimicking setting. Rather, you have to project HDR content in order to get some of the visual benefits of the image type.
That said, and you’ll notice this is a running theme in this review, the limited modes (including the all-encompassing Auto) are more than adept at adjusting image settings to suit the source for most viewers.
Built-in audio is one of the areas in which the Vivitek HK2288 falls short. That’s because product designers clearly gave precedence to image quality and processing power over built-in audio capabilities.
Accordingly, this projector only includes a single 10-watt mono speaker. That means you’ll be mighty disappointed if you try to enjoy a movie from the projector alone. It simply lacks the auditory expertise to match its visual bona fides. That’s why this projector, unlike others in its segment, does not offer an audio-in jack; there’s little point in using it as a sound source. We strongly recommend you use auxiliary speakers with this projector.
The Vivitek HK2288 offers a slew of ports located on the back of the case. These include three HDMI 2.0, a mini-jack audio-out, USB Type A, Mini-USB, and RS-232. Of course, the standout of these ports is the set of three HDMI 2.0’s.
These ports enable users to plug multiple sources into the projector without necessarily utilizing an external switcher, which is the real benefit. Plus, it allows for the use of a streaming stick or two without taking full advantage of all the projector’s HDMI ports.
Product designers clearly gave precedence to image quality and processing power over built-in audio capabilities.
That said, since the HDMI ports are 2.0, users with HDMI 1.4 (think older Blu-Ray units, etc.) may have some connectivity issues. And while the Vivitek HK2288 shines in terms of connectivity options, it falls short with its remote usability with the remote’s signal seeming to lose effectiveness beyond 25 feet. Not everyone will find this an issue, as not all consumers will have such large home cinema spaces. However, if you have an open-concept home and wish to control the living room projector from your kitchen, you might not be able to. So keep that in mind for where you place the projector in your home.
Range issues aside, the remote is a good one. It offers a red backlight, compared to some of the crisp white backlights of its competitors. What’s more, it’s not so bright as to be painful when illuminated in blacked-out rooms. Nor is it soft enough to make button recognition impossible. It’s a nice midpoint with a color tone that’s easy on a user’s night vision.
Software on the Vivitek HK2288 is fairly rudimentary, but is in line with other projectors. There aren’t too many menus to dig through. Similarly, the system and what menus you will find are easy and intuitive to navigate. As we said before, more options are available when projecting a native HDR source. However, casual watchers will be more than happy with the standard Auto options offered by Vivitek.
The price of the Vivitek HK2288 starts at $1,999 and we haven’t seen any sales. Meanwhile, some of its competitors started off comparably priced but have seen their sticker prices come down. Take the Optoma UHD60, for example. It can now be had for $1,599. Similarly, the BenQ HT3550 goes for $1,499 on Amazon as of this writing. In our rundown of best gaming projectors of 2019, it came in first in the 4K category.
As we said in the lead-in, the Vivitek HK2288 offers a nuanced image that its competitors can’t quite match. This makes it competitive even while the price of the other projectors in the market comes down.
Since the KH2288 and UHD60 are similarly priced and have 4K projectors, it’s only fair to put them side-by-side here as well. Both the HK2288 and UHD60 and offer true 4K ultra-high-definition images at 3840 x 2160. However, the UHD60 wins out in terms of pure lighting power. It puts out 3,000 lumens.
Meanwhile, the KH2288 only pumps out 2,000 lumens. And you’ll notice the difference in rooms with some light pollution. However, the HK2288 has noticeably crisper images at the edges than the UHD60. The Vivitek offers a 1.5x zoom while the Optoma has 1.6x optical zoom. That means you can project from further away on the HK2288 than the UHD60.
In terms of sound quality, the Optoma walks away with the win. Its loud stereo speakers easily out project the 10-watt mono speaker of the Vivitek in terms of volume and sound quality. The 16-pound UHD60 is also a veritable lightweight compared with the nearly 20-pound HK2288. Given their disparate specs and features, there are arguments for and against both projectors. For some buyers, it might well come down to price—and that’s understandable.
A solid 4K projector, though not perfect.
The Vivitek HK2288 Home Cinema Projector holds its value in the market even as the price tags of its competitors drop off. Having spent plenty of hours testing the projector, we see why. It’s well built and the relatively compact size and design pack a ton of projecting prowess. Granted, it might not be the brightest projector. Nor does it offer the best built-in audio quality. However, for buyers who want a nuanced and crisp image from a virtual plug-and-play projector without having to step up nearly the $10,000 mark, there are few superior projectors to pick from.