Instant Theater
Sound & Vision|October - November 2020
VAVA VA-LT002 4K LASER DLP PROJECTOR
Al Griffin

VAVA’S VA-LT002 4K Laser DLP projector is the first product of its kind to arrive from a company that offers a range of lifestyle-type electronics such as camera/DVRs for your car’s dashboard and baby monitors. At the 2020 CES, the VA-LT002, an ultra short-throw model with built-in streaming apps and a 60-watt Harman Kardon stereo audio system, was the centerpiece of the company’s suite. Paired with a 100-inch projection screen and playing 4K nature footage, I found the image it beamed absorbing.

The subsequent arrival of Vava’s projector at my home for testing coincided with the start of pandemic-related stay-at-home orders. The timing couldn’t have been better. Working from home alongside bored kids who were regularly invading my domain, it was clear that a secondary entertainment space (my home theater is mine!) where videogames could be played, and YouTube videos consumed, would benefit us all. Accordingly, I arranged a space in my finished attic, set up a 100-inch screen, and placed the Vava on a low table in front of it. Voilà: instant home theater.

FEATURES

Vava’s ultra-short-throw projector uses the Appotronics ALPD 3.0 laser engine paired with a three-segment color wheel and 0.47-inch DLP XPR chip to beam images from 80 inches up to 150 inches diagonal. When installed with a 100-inch screen, the projector’s 0233:1 throw ratio allows for it to be positioned 7.2 inches away. HDR10 high dynamic range is supported, brightness is specified at 2,500 ANSI lumens, and Vava’s website claims a whopping 1,500,000:1 maximum contrast, though the projector’s manual states a more modest 3,000:1 (full-on/full-off). Color gamut coverage is cited as “85 percent+” for NTSC, meaning it’s not designed to reproduce the extended color in Ultra HD/ HDR sources, and also can’t hit the full-color range in regular HD ones.

The projector features an Android-based smart TV interface and uses the Aptoide app store to download streaming apps. I found the selection here disappointing: no YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or any other app that I would regularly use was available. Fortunately, the set has ample HDMI inputs to plug in a streaming stick (a powered USB port is provided for that purpose) or box. Bluetooth is onboard for streaming audio from a phone or other device, and it can also be used to stream audio out to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. Vava’s projector has an appealing, streamlined design, with a gently curved white case. A gray mesh masking the built-in Harman Kardon stereo speaker system (Vava calls it a soundbar) helps to tone down the starkness of the white case and make it more living room-friendly. A total of three fans are used for cooling, allowing for efficient ventilation and low overall fan noise, and there’s a motion detection feature that automatically dims light output to prevent eye damage if a child or pet ventures too close.

Connections on the VA-LT002 include a trio of HDMI 2.0b inputs, one of them with ARC. There are also optical digital and analog minijack outputs for connection to an external audio system. Network links can be made via Wi-Fi or hardwired Ethernet, and the USB port can be used to access stored media files.

Vava’s remote control mirrors the white/gray look of the projector and features only a minimal set of control buttons used to navigate the smart TV interface and menus and adjust volume. The keypad isn’t backlit, but since most control functions happen onscreen, you’ll mainly use the central cursor controls to carry out operations.

SETUP

As with other ultra-short-throw projectors I’ve tested, getting good image geometry was largely dependent upon precise physical setup. Vava’s user guide (a printed one, not an online version!) has a table providing precise height and distance data for a specific screen sizes, and once the projector is installed there are rear right and left adjustments to make further manual tweaks. Menu adjustments include electric focus and a “keystone correction” that’s more of a warping-type feature to compensate for distortion in 8 image zones. Using these, with the projector’s back 7 inches from the screen surface, I was able to achieve good overall geometry and focus.

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