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Optoma H79 DLP Video Projector  Print E-mail
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Written by Brian Kahn   
Friday, 01 July 2005
Article Index
Optoma H79 DLP Video Projector 
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The Movies
While watching “Spider-Man” (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment) again on DVD, I noted the H79 on the GreyHawk screen did not produce colors quite as vibrant as did the recently reviewed InFocus 7205 on a DaLite 1.0 gain screen. I substituted a Studiotek 130 1.3 gain screen with the Optoma and the vibrancy was noticeably increased. I personally found the Optoma’s colors on the GreyHawk Reference screen to be very natural-looking and compelling. Moving to the darker scenes, I noticed better performance from the Optoma, including better apparent resolution and fewer dithering artifacts on the lower gain screen. It is essential that you select the correct screen for your room when you invest this kind of money into a video projector.
Next I viewed chapters 27 and 28 from “Shakespeare in Love” (Miramax Home Entertainment). The Optoma was just as sharp as the InFocus and did a better job with the details in the darker uniforms and shadows. The picture detail in the embroidery was good but not great, with some flickering when viewed through the component inputs. This was reduced noticeably when viewed through the 720p HDMI input.
Looking at “Toy Story” (Disney Home Entertainment), the picture uniformity across large fields of the same color was very good. Some minimal noise was noticeable on the component inputs, but not the HDMI 720p input and with the projector in native mode. The darker fields were much cleaner on the Optoma, demonstrating the ability of the new DarkChip3 with darker scenes.

I then watched a bit of “I, Robot” (Fox Home Entertainment) in component input, using the Optoma’s scaler, and then again with the 720p HDMI output, bypassing the internal Optoma scaler. The 720p test was slightly sharper that the Optoma scaler. I found that, as with the other movies viewed, when watching through the HDMI input, the picture was slightly sharper. I confirmed this by doing the same thing with “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line Home Entertainment). When Frodo, Sam and Gollum are approaching the gates of Mordor, the scene was sharper and appeared to have more depth seen through the HDMI input than it did when viewed through the component inputs.

I then switched to HDTV via DirecTV and again found a familiar episode of “24” to watch, as it has many dark scenes. The new DarkChip3-equipped H79 had greatly reduced dithering in the dark scenes when compared to similar projectors utilizing the prior generation chip. I also watched some high-definition sports and Discovery Channel and found the colors to be extremely natural, even compared to those produced by my CRT projector.

When watching 480i sources, I noted some twitching on moving images, not bad but an external scaler – even even a good but inexpensive doubler – would perhaps improve this aspect of performance. DVDO’s new scaler comes to mind for about $2,000. It is hard to judge 480i against 1080i HDTV, but most viewers still watch more 480i than anything else. It is hard to say that that you wouldn’t be happy watching a baseball game in SD (480i) or a movie not in HD. With really strong contrast from the new chipset, the Optoma hangs right in there with my older CRT projector, which is no small feat.

I spent some time going through the Silicon Optix test DVD and noted that the color gradations had smooth transitions, except on very dark colors. On the “Jaggies” test, the diagonal filter did okay but not great, showing jagged edges on the bottom of three bars and on low-angle diagonals. I noticed these artifacts when watching 480i television as well. The Optoma did well on the flag test, with only minor jaggies when using component inputs. After switching to the HDMI 720p input, the biggest notable difference was the increased detail in the brick building in the background. On the detail test, the grass looked great, as did the bridge. On the HDMI 720p input, the picture was slightly sharper. Moving to the noise reduction tests, the Optoma did very well when compared to stills, with very little noise on simulated television signals; it was slightly worse with noise on simulated film. The Optoma did a good job on all of the cadence tests. I did notice at times that, when using the internal scaler between scene changes, the image would lose its color and be displayed in black and white for a split second. I can only assume that this is related to the time that the scaler takes to lock onto the signal.

Overall, the internal Optoma processor did a relatively good job with scaling and noise processing. When I bypassed the scaler with the 720p HDMI signal, I thought that there was generally slightly better noise reduction and a bit more detail: these are small but noticeable differences.


 

 
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