The Philips Screeneo U4 (SCN350) projector features a 0.23-inch DMD chip from Texas Instruments (DLP230NP) with native Full HD definition of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This chip uses wobulation (extremely fast display of multiple 960 x 540 pixel qHD images staggered from each other) at 240 Hz to stream four qHD images side-by-side to produce a 2.1 million pixel Full HD 60 Hz image. real. This chip is coupled to a light source using four LEDs (RGBWhite) of 400 lumens. Less powerful than a lamp or laser source, diodes still have some advantages, such as a long lifespan announced at 30,000 hours or even instant start-up.
The small Philips projector also has two 15 W speakers associated with a passive radiator to improve the presence in the bass. It has a keystone correction system and autofocus via a ToF (time-of-flight) sensor. If the Philips Screeneo U4 is powered by an AMlogic T972 processor, it does not host Android TV, but a personalized version of Android offering a single app: the VLC media player. On the other hand, it stands out from the competition by the integration of two Bluetooth chips which make it possible to connect two wireless headphones simultaneously and to control the volume independently.
The Philips Screeneo U4 takes up the concept of the defunct LG PH450UG that we tested in 2017, but also of the excellent – and bulky – ultra short throw projector Philips Screeneo HDP2510 from 2016. This Screeneo U4 was offered through from the Indiegogo platform for around 620 €, a rather decent price for such a model, but Philips mentions a final sale price of around 1200 €, which makes it much less attractive.
2D image quality
This video projector is equipped with a fixed optic with a ratio of 0.25:1 and can project an image of 2 m diagonally with a decline of only 30.5 cm. To carry out our measurements, we placed the Screeneo U4 at 35 cm, a little more than the recommended value, in order to obtain an image of 2 m base allowing us to compare the measurements with those of the other projectors tested. Focus adjustment is automatic, as is keystone correction. The process is efficient and it is still possible to adjust manually using the remote control. As is often the case with a projector using wobulation, the image is not perfectly clear. The optics don’t help things, because if the image remains almost sharp in the center, you lose a lot of sharpness as soon as you move away from it.
Delta E = 10.9
To get the best display quality, we chose the Standard mode. If the Cinema mode diffuses more faithful colors – if one can express it that way – with an average delta E of 9.1, the gamma is completely whimsical with a generally overexposed image, probably to uncover the dark areas. In Standard mode, we obtain an average delta E of 10.9, a very high value far from the delta E of 3 below which the colors displayed can be considered faithful to those sent by the source.
The average gamma (1.9) is far from the reference value (2.2). The curve clearly lacks stability and the gray levels are all overexposed. This process is often used by projector manufacturers to artificially increase perceived brightness, but at the expense of grayscale accuracy.
If the curve very slightly lacks stability, the average temperature measured at 6890 K is quite close to that of reference for the cinema (6500 K).
Models using Texas Instruments wobulation tend to offer quite low contrast, rarely exceeding 800:1. But the use of LEDs does not help much. On our 1% white target, the contrast is measured at a ratio of just 220:1, and even drops to 110:1 on our 35% white target, all with a maximum brightness of 19 cd/m². This is a long way from the contrast of 1340:1 calculated on the Vava 4K UST Laser Projector, equipped with a 0.47 inch DLP DMD chip and a laser, from the 720:1 measured on the Benq W1800i with its 124 cd/m², and even more from the Sony VW290ES which peaks at 135 cd/m² with a native contrast of 2820:1. In practice, the low contrast of the Philips Screeneo U4 results in washed out blacks. This has little impact on TV shows or sports watching, for example, but can be annoying with movies.
The Screeneo U4 does not use a color wheel, but red, green, blue and white LEDs to quickly mix colors. The rainbow effect, visible on all projectors using a single DLP chip, is limited. This phenomenon more or less visible, or even not at all depending on the people and the images, results in small rainbows around bright objects on a dark background.
The Screeneo U4 displays a display delay (input lag) of 29.4 ms in game mode. This results in a delay of two frames compared to the 60 Hz source, which limits the latency between the action with the controller and its repercussion on the screen. We can therefore consider playing on this video projector without any problem.
Light. max. : 19 cd/m²
Delta E = 44
Announced as HDR10 compatible, this video projector in fact only really provides an image display without really respecting the HDR standard. It must be said that this model with limited power must be satisfied with a very reduced dynamic range, which nullifies all the interest of HDR. If the software indicates that the colors are totally wrong (average delta E HDR of 44), it is mainly because of the lack of brightness which means that the colors displayed do not correspond to those expected in HDR. In general, projectors have a lot of trouble with HDR content, but with the Philips Screeneo U4, it is better to simply settle for SDR content.
Functions and ergonomics
With dimensions of 22.3 x 12.3 x 8.1 cm, the Philips Screeneo U4 is a compact model that is easily placed on a piece of furniture near the wall to project its image with its ultra-short focal length. The 1.4 kg weight also makes it easy to move from room to room.
On the left, we find the camera used for autofocus, while the Tof (time of flight) sensor on the right is used for automatic keystone correction. Finally, in the center, we identify the optical unit responsible for projecting the image.
The connection is quite classic since it consists of two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one of which is located on the side, a headphone output and a USB 2.0 port that can be used to connect a storage device or power an HDMI key (Fire TV Stick, Chromecast with Google TV, etc). Another special feature, and not the least important, is that it is possible to pair two Bluetooth devices with the U4 to enjoy sound on two separate headsets by allowing individual volume control. A very practical feature that partially masks the noise of this projector, which is unfortunately not silent.
Pressing the home button on the remote control gives the choice between the HDMI source or the multimedia player. The latter is simply the Android version of VLC; a guarantee of quality, but which clashes a little at a time when competitors rather offer access to video streaming applications (YouTube, Netflix, Disney +, MyCanal, etc.). With this projector, you must therefore go through an external box (Shield TV, Apple TV), or an HDMI key such as Fire TV Stick or Chromecast with Google TV. This model also has no network connection (wired or wifi): you must therefore install the films in a USB key or an external hard drive to enjoy them with VLC…
The remote control is light, simple and functional. We find access to all the features, including adjustment of focus, volume, brightness, presets, as well as source change. It responds well and the rubber keys are quiet and pleasant to the touch. The system being very limited, the remote control does not bother with a microphone.
Ultra short throw (easy to install).
Dual Bluetooth connection.
No onboard streaming app.
Lack of sharpness.
How does grading work?
The Philips Screeneo U4 ultra-short throw projector is an endearing product due to its compactness and ease of use, but it makes too many concessions. There are, however, some good ideas, such as the dual Bluetooth connection or the automatic focusing and keystone correction system, but the image quality remains perfectible, whether in terms of sharpness or fidelity. Similarly, the contrast is far too limited to make it more than an extra video projector to which you should not forget to attach an HDMI key to take advantage of streaming services.
2D image quality
Functions and ergonomics
Consumption and noise level