With the new Optoma HD50 home theater projector, Optoma continues a trend of delivering low-cost, high quality projectors to consumers. While other Optoma projectors seem to best be labelled as family room models, the HD50 steps up the image quality by delivering a Full HD 1920×1080 image with 3D support, and an RGBRGB color wheel that is sure to impress.
Coming in at a $1,599 street price, the HD50 offers more than any of their lower priced models, including a 50,000:1 contrast rating, 1.5x zoom range and vertical lens shift, and some system options like PureMotion (frame interpolation), and a full Color Management System that may make it perfect for your home theater setup.
When the projector first came on, it was clear that a bit of adjustment was going to be necessary. The image appeared artificial with over blown colors and brightness that was artificially high. Switching between the seven different color modes that include Cinema, Reference, Vivid, Bright, Game, 3D, and User, it was determined that Reference really did deliver the reference settings.
Some time was spent with the Blu-ray Disney WOW! calibration disc and only minimal changes were made to the reference setting to get a overall solid image on screen from the HD50. Colors appeared accurate and well saturated on the large 161″ test screen that was being used. There wasn’t a time when extra light output was desired, and the image didn’t appear muddied when scenes got darker.
An early viewing experience of ice hockey really played to the strengths of DLP technology and the HD50 delivered the goods. A small black puck zipping around on a white background can be a nightmare for those who are sensitive to DLP rainbows. Not only were there no rainbows jumping across the screen, but the fast paced action of hockey was matched by the HD50 with sharp detail, with the white ice having good on-screen pop, and the black puck travelling cleanly across the screen. Even with a few lights turned on, the HD50 held up nicely and the game was still very watchable.
Sitting down to watch a few movies once it was calibrated, the Optoma was out to impress. The image delivered by the HD50 for movie viewing is perhaps the best on the market at its price range. It delivered excellent image quality with colors that were smooth and accurate. No hints of false contouring were present and movies such as The Avengers delivered smooth color gradations, without appearing to be over saturated or lacking. The skin tones were very good, avoiding a lean towards yellow or green bias.
Certainly, the black levels were not as impressive as the higher priced models out there, but the lack of inky blacks wasn’t a distraction to the viewing experience in any way. The image allowed for true submersion into the movie. So, instead of watching a projector, and finding faults, it was easy to get lost in the story that was unfolding. The unparalleled sharpness of single chip DLP projectors rung true with this model as fine details in sharp scenes stood out with impeccable precision. The HD50 allowed for an enjoyable movie viewing experience from start to end.
3D, using the included Optoma 3D glasses and VESA emitter, was a breeze to use. The 3D glasses didn’t come charged, but a USB cable was included and after a few hours of charging, the simple on-off switch, instead of a more typical push-button, allowed for the glasses to be utilized. A bit of menu surfing into the 3D setup allowed for a choice between VESA, DLP Link, or Off, as choices for 3D operation. After VESA 3D was enabled, the Blu-ray player immediately started playback and the glasses had no issues whatsoever with syncing up and working very well. To test the other options, DLP Link was enabled for 3D, and a set of very well regarded eStar 3D glasses were put to use and they seemed to actually look better than the Optoma glasses. The eStar glasses maintained better separation between the two halves of the image with better overall contrast and no visible color bias. For those who consider 3D an important part of their viewing experience, the HD50 did an impressive job overall.
by Paul Vail
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