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Optoma HD20 DLP Projector Review Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 May 2010
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Optoma HD20 DLP Projector Review
Performance and Conclusion

ImageWith the roll out of Optoma’s HD20 DLP home projector last year, the reality of a 1080p projector lower than $1000 was finally realized.  As Blu-ray is rapidly growing in popularity, there’s no reason that home theater gurus with growing collections of stunning 1080p transfers need to hold off on replacing that old 720p projector.  The Optoma HD20 attempts to meet that need with 1080p output, 4000:1 contrast, and 1700 ANSI lumens.   The retail MSRP of the unit is $999.99 and can be found slightly cheaper around the web.


The design of the HD20 has a very small footprint, which makes it useful as a somewhat mobile projector.  The white body has a sleek finish with silver trim. It can get dusty if positioned on a coffee table and the white finish obviously makes that more visible.  The front grill of the projector is sloped forwards and the lens stands out in the silver housing.  Frankly, it’s not a bad projector to look at especially when paired with white accents.

The rear of the unit contains the following inputs: power cord, 12 volt screen trigger, VGA computer connection, Component video, composite video and two HDMI inputs.  You won’t find an S-Video connection, but the majority of the home theater population has moved on to the superior component or HDMI connections for recent electronics purchases.  In addition, the unit can be paired with a A/V Receiver with tons of HDMI inputs if you required more.  On the top of the projector, you will find the standard set of button controls for switching sources and navigating on-screen menus.

Back Panel

If you have used an Optoma projector before, the menu system is unchanged from previous models.  There are five preset picture modes including User controlled, Reference, Bright, Photo and Cinema.  Switching between them requires a bit of lag time to reset the screen, but it’s not overly annoying.   For more advanced video calibration, you can dive in to noise reduction, gamma controls and color temperature selection.  Within the menu system, you can also utilize overscan, edge mask, image AI and a variety of other modifications.  Image AI, while useful, cranks the fan noise into high gear, so beware if the projector is mounted near your audience.

The remote control for the unit has a similar form design to the projector, compact and white.   The remote control sensor is mounted on the front of the unit, so you need a fairly direct line of site to modify settings.  Pointing it at the back of the unit doesn’t work at all, especially in a seated position.  I’ve heard people complain about how bright the remote LED is, but I found that to be more useful than not.  It is stunningly bright.  In fact, I’ve used it several times to navigate out of my pitch black theater after a movie is over.   Two features I really utilize the most on the remote are the direct input buttons and the aspect ratio modification buttons.  If someone in the house was watching a 4:3 DVD on the composite input, I can switch over to HDMI and / or 16:9 in a flash to watch the Lakers game in HD.     

Top View
Placement of the HD20 is somewhat simplified over previous Optoma models, but positioning may seem limited.  The 1.2:1 manual zoom lens has no lens shift and the throw angle is fixed.   It works well as a ceiling mounted unit or a coffee table placement.  I was using an 80” screen and had about two feet of leeway in where I could place the coffee table.  By the way, the lamp inside the unit is rated at 3000 hours in high lamp mode and 4000 hours in low lamp mode, a solid rating for such an inexpensive unit.  Replacement blubs hover in the $300 range, but I have seen them as low as $250 on some sites.



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