Sunday, April 3, 2011

Optoma HD20 1080P Full HD Entry-Level DLP Home Theater Projector

When it comes to home theater, it is easy to want to go big. When it comes to going big in home theater, one of the best ways to do that is with a huge TV. And the best way to get absolutely huge is to go front projection. With front projectors you can go well over 100" in size. If you are looking for that WOW! factor, nothing drops jaws the way a front projector can. Up for review today is and entry level projector, the Optoma HD20.

The Optoma HD20 has some great features, and specs. They include: Bright at 1700 ANSI lumens and contrast ratio of 4000:1 Up to 300” screen size for large group viewing Perfect for connecting to any home entertainment device with HDMI, component, composite video and VGA Backlit IR remote control. Features:

Texas Instruments 1080p DLP® chipset and BrilliantColor™ technology

Type Single 0.65” 1080p DMD DLP Technology by Texas Instruments

Resolution Native 1080p (1920 x 1080)

Brightness (Typical) 1700 ANSI Lumens

Contrast Ratio 4000:1 (Full On/Full Off)

Lamp Life and Type Estimated at 4000/3000 Hours (STD/Bright) 230W

P-VIP Throw Ratio 1.5 to 1.8:1 (Distance/Width)

Projection Distance 4.92’ to 32.8’ (1.5 to 10m)

Image Size (Diagonal) 37.6” to 301.1” (0.95 to 7.64m)

Aspect Ratio 16:9 Native, 4:3 and LBX

Compatible Displayable Colors 1.07 Billion

Uniformity 70%

Remote Control Backlit Remote Control User Controls

Complete On-Screen Menu Adjustments in 21 Languages

Computer Compatibility HD, UXGA, WXGA, SXGA+, SXGA, XGA, SVGA, VGA Resized, VESA, PC and Macintosh Compatible

Video Compatibility NTSC, PAL, SECAM, SDTV (480i), EDTV (480p), HDTV (720p, 1080i/p) Projection Lens F= 2.55-2.87, f= 22.4-26.8mm,

1.2x Manual Zoom and Focus

Horizontal Scan Rate 15.3 to 91.1 KHz Vertical Refresh Rate 24 to 85 Hz

I/O Connectors Two HDMI, VGA-In, Component Video, Composite Video and +12V Trigger Security Kensington® Lock Port, Security Bar and Keypad Lock

Projection Method Front, Rear, Ceiling Mount, Table Top Offset 116%

Weight 6.4 lbs (2.9kg)

Dimensions (W x H x D) 12.76” x 3.82” x 9.21” (324 x 97 x 234 mm)

Noise Level (STD/Bright) 32dB/34dB

Keystone Correction ± 5° Vertical

Operating Temperature 41° to 95°F (5° to 35°C),

80% Max Humidity

Power Supply AC Input 100-240V, 50-60Hz,

Auto-Switching Power Consumption 308 Watts (Bright), 254 Watts (STD), <1>

The quality of the Optima HD20 is pretty good. It features an all plastic gloss white body. Zoom and focus are manual. So if you are ceiling mounting it, that may want to be considered. Controls are on the top, which is also conveniently located when ceiling mounted. The rear has single connections for composite, component, and VGA, and dual HDMI inputs. In all, the HD20 had a good heft to it, and felt well put together. The remote control was simple to use and well laid out. The blue backlit buttons were also so bright that in a dark light controlled room you could also see the labels for what the buttons were for. The quality was as good as I would expect at this price point.
The performance you can get in an entry level product is similar to what you would get a few years ago paying twice as much. You've got to love that, if this is your budget. I continue to be amazed at the level of performance with some entry level products. The Optoma HD20 is a good example of this. With an MSRP of $999, I was amazed at the performance you get.
It is a 1080P front projector that has a lot going for it. Light output was pretty good. While the image did get washed out a good deal with the lights on but was still enjoyable, the image was significantly better in a light controlled environment. I was equally impressed with the out of the box image quality at factory default settings, including skin tones. With a few minor tweaks in the menus, the image was even better, such as correcting the reds from being a tad oversaturated at times. But users would probably be happy with the image out of the box, and not feel the need to make any adjustments, or maybe just a few. Adjusting the setting, such as color, contrast and noise reduction was fairly simple. But for those not comfortable adjusting those settings, there were also picture modes of Cinema, Bright, Photo, Reference, and User. The lamp also had a bright mode, which increased the light output, but the increase was minimal.
The overall image had a lot going for it. Light uniformity was good edge to edge. Overall color saturation was good, with the reds being just a bit over saturated. Sharpness was not as good as I am used to, but for this price point it was good. And as mentioned earlier, skin tones were also good. Improved optics could help the overall image, but that would put the Optoma HD20 at a different price point. The 1080P resolution was also good.

It is a projector, and as such I wanted to include some pics of how the image looks. It is a difficult process. While I used a very capable Canon Digital Rebel T1i, computer monitors are rarely calibrated, so the colors and image do not come out nearly as good as they are seen on screen. But not posting pics on a projector review seemed even more wrong. So take the pics with a grain of salt. I included a couple from the movie "Wolverine" to show how it looks on film, as well as animation to show off its colors, and sharpness.

When compared to my reference Sony Bravia HW-15 which has an MSRP of around $3000, the image was better on the Sony in just about every way. The resolution was the same, but with better optics. Video processing was better with fewer artifacts. Contrast was significantly improved, and color uniformity was better. The image had more pop, better depth, and the LCOS panels had better black level performance. The image was also more refined looking. That may seem a little rough, especially how positive I have been on the Optoma HD20. But the Sony is 3 times more expensive, so it should perform significantly better. the end, I kept saying to myself...this is only a $1,000 projector?! For $1,000 you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck! And for $1,000 it looks REALLY good.

If you are in the market, I would highly suggest checking it out before purchasing the HD20. That is more to do with the DLP technology. DLP technology uses a DLP chip, and to keep cost's down, the HD20 uses a single DLP chip and color wheel. This does however bring out what is called the "Rainbow Effect" that some are susceptible to. Some people can see them, and some don't. And of the ones that can see the rainbows, some would consider it minor and no big deal, and for others it would really bug them. So, it is best to experience DLP technology first, before you make a purchase and potentially regret it. I personally see them, and it does bother me. And the HD20 is no different. For those that are not bothered by the Rainbow Effect, the Optima HD20 is a great entry-level product!

In conclusion, I was greatly impressed with the performance of the Optima HD20 as on entry-level product at it's price point. Bottom line, there are significantly better performing products out there, like my Sony Bravia HW-15, but it will also leave your wallet significantly lighter. If you are on a budget, or the increased performance is not worth the extra cost (after all, we are in a recession) the Optoma HD20 should be on your short list. Based on it's design, quality, and performance, it has earned our Value award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Reference gear used, EliteScreen ezFrame 100" screen, Sony Bravia HW-15, Onkyo TX-NR1007, Bryston 9B SST2 and Oppo Digital BDP-83.