The Vava Chroma is an all-in-one Ultra Short throw (UST) DLP projector that offers supersized images in rooms of any size, provided you have a spare white wall or dedicated screen. Parking it around 100mm from a wall will cast a picture some 100-inches big. This ability to cast huge images up close to a wall is key to any UST projector’s appeal.
It boasts a triple laser light engine, on board apps and a really good Harman Kardon sound system. While watchable in rooms with some ambient light, the projector is at its best in a fully dark viewing room.
The Vava Chroma is launching into an increasingly crowded projector niche, with Optoma, Hisense and BenQ both providing competition, in the form of the CinemaX P2, Laser L5 and V6050, respectively. Like those models, the VA-SP003 attempts to offer a TV-like interface, using an Android platform, complete with on-board apps, including Netflix, YouTube and Disney+.
Price and availability
The Vava Chroma VA-SP003 is currently selling for $3,5000/ £2,500 via Indiegogo. If delivered for this price, it will be one of the more affordable Ultra Short throw 4K laser projectors available. This ticket is fluid though, due to the vagaries of crowdfunding. Availability is quoted as January 2022.
This Vava can be partnered with an Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) screen, the VA-LTS005, for an additional $649.99/£469 (or thereabouts). This ALR screen is said to filter out up to 92 per cent of the ambient light, resulting in the highest possible contrast and colour vibrancy. Typically, however, most UST projector owners utilise white walls for the display, which is a major part of their easy-to-use appeal.
- Three HDMI inputs (with ARC support)
- 60W Harman Kardon sound system
- Remote control with microphone
- Eye Protection mode
With its chromed bumpers, making a virtue of heat dissipation vents, and black fabric grille with large logo, the Chroma VA-SP003 is hardly inconspicuous.
Light Source: Triple laser | 4K: Yes | HDR: Yes, HDR10 | Smart platform: Android | Wi-Fi: Yes | Dimensions: 539(w) x 110(h) x 376(d)mm | Weight: 11kg | Inputs/output: 3xHDMI 2.0, Ethernet, digital optical audio, AV minijack, digital optical audio, 3.5mm stereo audio out
It has a sizeable footprint too (540 x 378 x 110mm), and weighs a hefty 11kg. Not that you’ll need to ceiling mount it. This all-in-one movie machine is designed to sit on a shelf, bench or floor around a meter from your white wall or screen. 120-inches is relatively easy to achieve.
Connections include three HDMI inputs, USB port, 3.5mm minjacks for audio out and AV in, plus digital optical audio input and Ethernet to support dual-band Wi-Fi. Back panel alignment for the HDMI input board isn’t great, making it difficult to secure purchase. This may be down to the fact that ours was an early sample.
The Chroma SP-003 ships with a slim remote with built-in microphone, for integration into an Amazon Alexa smart home ecosystem. It also has a cursor mode, although trying to get the cursor to reflect where you’re actually pointing the zapper proves an ongoing challenge.
The Vava Chroma also has an Eye Protection mode, triggered by a proximity sensor; useful if there are small kids in the vicinity.
- Android 9 smart platform
- Aptoide app store
- Amazon Alexa Voice Control
Offering a TV like user experience, the Vava Chroma utilises an Android app smart platform. Not to be confused with Android’s familiar TV OS, this stripped back variant presents an easy to navigate Home Page, with boxy buttons for inputs and the Aptoide store (v3.0). Streaming service support includes YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, TubiTV, Paramount+, HBO GO and so on (usability depends on your location). There’s also a selection of social apps, including Twitch, Facebook and Twitter.
Both the Netflix and Disney+ apps are HD only, so you might want to dedicate one of the HDMI inputs to a streaming stick, be it Amazon Fire TV or Roku.
While there is ostensibly Voice Control support via Amazon Alexa, there are caveats. Firstly the Amazon Alexa prompt given during the installation process takes you to Amazon.com, suitable for US subscribers. Those in the UK or elsewhere, will need to use a local login. Secondly, Amazon itself cautions that the device has not been tested by Amazon, so whether you actually want to proceed is up to you.
Bluetooth is built in, allowing you to pair a mobile device and take advantage of the sound system for music only playback, although the projector’s operational noise makes that something of a non-starter.
- 2500 lumens brightness
- HDR10 support
Color vibrancy makes a big first impression. This second gen Vava model utilises a triple laser ALPD 4.0 laser phosphor light source. There’s claimed support for 106 per cent of the Rec 2020 colour gamut.
Marvel’s What If… Captain Carter was the first Avenger (Disney+) is simply gorgeous. Its 1940s Fleischer-influenced animation style is a feast for the eyes on the vava Chroma, with beautiful shading and depth.
Vava suggests a maximum image size of 150 inches, although this will realistically be mandated by either the wall estate available or the screen you’re partnering this with. Shuttling the projector closer or further from a wall dictates the image size.
Big is definitely better. A look behind the scenes of Top Gun Maverick (on YouTube), is hair-raising. Sharing the cockpit with Cruise as he banks and rolls his F16, supersized by the Vava Chroma, proves a visceral experience.
Focus is automatic, with multi-point positional adjustment on offer, so it’s easy to square things up.
The projector supports HDR10 sources, and will adjust its output for maximum contrast and highlight pop. It should be remembered that HDR as delivered by projectors is not comparable to HDR on a TV, not least because there’s no pixel level control.
The limiting factor here is overall average picture brightness. The projector’s output is rated at 2500 lumens, but we found it didn’t really have the intensity to maintain dynamics in a room with even moderate levels of ambient light. The Vava Chroma needs a full blackout to sing.
Beneath the hood is a Texas Instruments’ XPR allied to a single DMD chip. It outputs a 3840×2160 image by dint of pixel shifting. So what we have here isn’t a native 4K image, but a 4K pixel dense one. This is comparable to what we see from rivals like BenQ and Optoma. Only Sony and JVC have native 4K consumer projectors, and neither offer a UST solution.
That said, detail remains impressive. Big close ups of assassin Will Smith as he patiently waits to take out a target on a speeding train (Gemini Man), appear convincingly detailed; the overall presentation suitably filmic. While the projector doesn’t do a deep black, the sense of cinematic contrast remains intact.
While the projector uses a single chip DLP solution, we weren’t particularly aware of intrusive rainbow strobing, once a common complaint of the technology. The Vava Chroma is clean, even with high contrast content.
This isn’t a projector you can overly tweak. Image presets cover most needs: Standard, Film, TV, PE, Game and PC. Film proved our go-to but Standard works well too.
Motion handling is via MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation). Filters cover Standard, Resolution, Smooth. Stick to the former to avoid soap opera effects.
There’s no high frame rate support. This is a 50/60Hz display.
- Harman Kardon audio
- 60W stereo
We’ve no complaints about the Harman Kardon-design integrated sound system. It’s pleasingly powerful. Inevitably, the soundstage is stereophonic, but that aside, it’s consistently entertaining. Audio modes comprise Standard, Movie, News Sports and Music.
Locke & Key (Netflix), boasts an inventive, atmospheric sound design, much of which is maintained here. Ominous bass notes have resonance, while the jangle of keys have a convincing metallic timbre.
You could also conceivably use the projector for Bluetooth music listening: Weezer’s swaggering singalong Beverly Hills sounds wide but not cramped. Stephanie Eitel’s ‘gimme, gimme’ vocal clearly delineated between the chugging riffs.
With 60W of amplification, there’s plenty of punch on tap for a standard living room space, but operating noise is borderline annoying, at around 32dB. At least it is consistent in tone and volume. This constant thrum tends to be disguised by the projector’s sound system most of the time.
Should I buy the Vava Chroma Ultra Short Throw projector?
Buy the Vava Chroma if…
You want a big cinema experience without the complexity and limitations of a traditional projector
This is largely a plug & play solution, and with punchy audio there’s no need to worry about adding a soundbar or external speakers.
You want a 100-inch + display for the price of a well-healed 65-inch TV
Being about to park the Vava Chroma just a metre from a wall means you can effectively turn even a box room into a home cinema.
If you want wall-sized entertainment that all-but-disappears when it’s not on
While a screen will eke more performance from the box, for the most part this projector keeps a low profile
Don’t buy the Vava Chroma if…
You simply don’t have a conveniently clear white wall or a dedicated Ambient Light Reflecting Screen
You’ll need one or the other to get up and running.
You want native 4K performance from sources
This DLP solution is native 4k, although many will be hard pressed to tell the difference.
You want the best UST viewing experience
Rival projectors from BenQ and Optoma may end up being more expensive, but they have the performance edge.