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The UNIC UC40+ - A Projector Noobie's Casual Projector Review...

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  • The UNIC UC40+ - A Projector Noobie's Casual Projector Review...

    The UNIC UC40+ - A Projector Noobie's Casual Review...

    I say casual, as it will not be picture rich or full of technical info or formal tests. Many photos and Youtubes exist demonstrating the UC40+, I have found that capturing a projector's display quality can be a challenge.... with a Moto G.
    Also, it may be hard to interrupt a projector's video quality in this way.

    The mission: To solve a curiosity and to see if I was truly interested in projector tech without dropping $400+ to find out.



    I bought this projector as something to experiment/play with, mostly just "projector" curious. Gearbest had a good price on the UC40+ and with stock in their US warehouse. It arrived from the West coast in under 7 days from the order, using the free standard shipping. The unit arrived in good working order.

    After messing with it for a few hours, I am beginning to think using it for the purpose for which is was designed, may appeal to me. Granted, it only has a native resolution of 800x480, but if you are not overly picky about picture quality. It looks good enough for a movie night on the deck. Or big screen football when you have a house full of rowdy sports drunks. Cartoons(Squidbillies, ATHF, Archer, etc) look very good on the screen. Movies, in general, that don't require FHD to enjoy, look perfectly acceptable.
    As this is my first projector(sans the slide and 8mm types), I had no specific expectations. Well, I had two expectations, that it would turn on and throw light. Those two expectations were met rather quickly.

    The fan is audible, as fans often are. So if you are watching old silent movies, you should be aware of this. But for everything else, the builtin speaker is minimally adequate(depends on media volume). But IMO, a big screen demands big sound, so plugging in almost any amplified speaker/system will be a huge improvement. The inbuilt solo speaker is of course monaural. The 3.5mm headphone jack is stereo. The internal speaker can be switched off via settings or with a well placed shot from your BB gun(not recommended).

    Inputs to cover almost all bases are present, HDMI, VGA, A/V( via included 3.5mm male to 3xRCA female breakout cable). A USB port and an SD card slot are available to play files using the inbuilt media player of the UC40+.
    NOTE: The VGA port is a very tight fit due to the gaps(too small) between the port and case, and also its tight case confines. So you will want a VGA cable with a small head shell.
    NOTE 2: A second USB port supplies [email protected] to charge your phone, tablet, etc. A small USB goose-neck lamp could also be plugged to the 5vdc out, to help see the projector's controls in the absence of light.
    NOTE: The USB port supplying 5vdc is on even when the projector is off, a plus.

    I have not used the media player much, opting instead to hook up a TV box via HDMI. A TV box will be far more format-flexible and likely much faster at browsing your collection, in addition to offering better audio options. The projector can handle input up to 1080p, but the projection system is limited to 800x480.

    The power is provide by a standard two conductor power lead terminated in a two-blade, non-polarized plug, US in my case. It would be better if it was a meter or more longer or even a yard, but that's easy to overcome. The power supply unit is housed in the projector.

    The focus adjustment system is OK, but crude in function. A precision control it is not, however, it is adequate.

    The manual Keystone correction adjustment also lacks precision, but it does allow for a +/-15 adjustment. Keystone correction is required if the projector is not perpendicular to the viewing surface. For instance, the projector is physically lower than the screen, resulting in the light striking the screen at an angle, relative to the projected image. If the screen is not angled, this makes the image appear trapezoidal. Manual Keystone adjustment will only compensate for top-to-bottom correction, not sided-to-side correction. I generally have the projector as close to centered left-to-right and top-to-bottom on the viewing surface(screen) as practical, I try not to need much Keystone correction as it seems to induce some irregularities. So try to start with the projector in a good position and use as little keystone correction as possible.

    The UC40+ rests on four rubber pads stuck on low-rise pedestals at the corners. A retractable foot/prop can be used to raise the front of the projector. This unit appears to not project a "level" image when the unit is on a level surface. Fortunately, the lens cap works well to level the image, but a magazine or old love letters will also work.
    NOTE: The lens cap does not fit well and falls off if you look at it wrong, but with just a little attention to detail when mounting the lens cap, you can get it to stay on about 30% of the time....so there's that.
    NOTE 2: The thread of the prop is smaller than a tripod's mounting threads. So if like me, you wondered if it could be removed and mounted on a tripod, it cannot. I used a boom cymbal stand and made a platform for the projector to sit on.

    The image can be inverted or reversed from the IR remote(Turn button), so the UC40+ can be mounted inverted, if needed. Also it can be used to project an image from the rear of a screen or a window(Halloween, etc). Two zoom modes are available, as are aspect ratios of 4:3 and 16:9. There is also an "Auto" setting for the aspect ratio and a couple of others settings as well..

    Various picture settings are available, such as, Brightness and Contrast, as well as an autocolor mode and a few presets. I don't usually use the autocolor feature, however, the brightness and contrast controls can go a long way to improving the projected image.

    The projector can be seen in a room with some light, but the darker the better. The light in the room is not as important, if the screen can be kept dark. In other words, you could be in a rectangular room, one end darkened while there is usable low-level light in the other end. But keep in mind, image quality is inversely proportional to light level.....just like at the multiplex.

    I made a screen, I used materials I already had in order to stay within my $0 screen budget. Old wood I must have stored in the barn years ago, old paint and the screen itself a 40+ year old roller shade. It is a near blackout shade. I painted it with Kilz II, which is white tinted. Evidently some opinions suggest grey is a better color for LED projectors, specially those with a fairly low lumen output used in areas with some light. So I may paint the rear of the screen grey to test. If it performs better grey, I'll repaint the screen's front grey, or leave it and have a reversible screen for all occasions(except daylight).
    The screen is not perfect, but adequate to the task and a sub-$100 projector. Screen size: Frame 81"x48", View-able screen 74"x41", about 84" diagonal.

    Bootup and shutdown times are very quick. The controls atop the unit are adequate to navigate, but the included IR remote offers much greater and much more convenient control. My complaint about the controls on the unit, the power button is right next to the navigation controls. It is very easy to strike the power button when fiddling with the controls in the dark or low light, and the UC40+ shuts down immediately and without question. I would strongly recommend that they move the power button away from the other controls on their next model or revision....So I'm sure that will happen.

    The software is a tad clunky, and tad is out of town, but it works. Once I set the input to HDMI, I don't need the UC40+ software much, everything at that point is handled thru the TV box.

    The IR remote works well. With the projector to my rear(poor thing), the IR RX is behind the projector, but I was able to bounce the remote's beam off of the back wall, to reliably control the projector. This might not work outside, but it would be easy to fashion an IR reflector that would work.


    As an introduction to the world of video projectors, the UC40+ has been a blast. For the tiny price I am impressed with its capabilities. This would be a lot of fun for the kiddies too, or any cartoon/animation fan. Some games also look pretty good and they can be shown very large. Asphalt 8: Airborne may look better on a monitor or TV, but reduced resolution is worth having a huge screen. The in-car view is pretty cool when it is near life-size.

    I also want to try it to project ghoulish images on the front window for Halloween(next year) and experiment with some holographic hi-jinks....see if I can't get sued.

    For the younger crowd, when you have your dang loud parties and social shenanigans till all hours of the night, you can project the Youtube on to the side of your mom's house and play some really cool Rock and Roll videos or the Rap, or whatever the youngsters are listening to these days.

    Dorm bound, off to spend mommy's and daddy's life savings? If one does not have the $250 to drop on a 43" or larger TV, but you did manage to pinch a hundred dollar bill out of mom's purse on the way out, this little projector and a white or grey surface, would do till your savings catch up to that TV.
    If you are a videophile, let's face it, there is nothing in a $100 projector or display that will satiate your needs, and I can't believe you have read this far. But for many others, when considering the cost, this thing will be big fun.

    I mentioned earlier about old slide and 8mm projectors. All of those devices used a bulb of course. They all had fans too. Their power switches had three positions, Off - Fan - Lamp or similar. The idea was the fan would be run after powering off the lamp. A few minutes of cool down and the unit could be switched full-off and the light source's life extended. The UC40+ does not have this feature. I think the life of this device could be considerably lengthened if it had the benefit of lamp(LED) off - fan on. As previously mentioned, the 5vdc USB port stays on when the projector is powered down, so I think I will use it to power a mounted 45mm-55mm 5vdc fan to make for a convenient cool down.

    Of course this projector uses an LED light source, not a bulb. It may run cooler compared to a bulb, but it still produces much heat. I actively cool down the UC40+ after power down, in the hopes that it will extend the amount time I can have fun with it.

    For well under $100, I cannot really find anything to complain about. Most of its shortcomings can be overcome pretty easily. So far, considering the price point, I'd buy it again.

    So for me, mission accomplished, and on budget.
    I like the UC40+, it's a blast, but unfortunately, that won't stop me from moving up a few projector levels. Next I want to try a higher res model and a DLP type.
    So yes, I realize I am in trouble already.

    GOLE1(Intel Z8300), NEXBOX T10(Intel Z8300), Ugoos UT3(RK3288) and UT3+(RK3288), R-Box(RK3229-2GB/8GB), Tronsmart S95 Meta(AMLS905), Inphic i7(S905), UBOX(AMLS805), Q7(RK3188T)

    Never trust an atom, they make up everything.
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