HB Opto HBP503D Pocket Projector Review

HB Opto HBP503D Pico Projector - Picture Quality

In the course of reviewing a dozen or so pico and pocket projectors over the last 3 years, one thing that was rarely wonderful was the overall picture quality.  Some were pretty terrible, some were not bad.  This HBP503D, however, I believe to have the best picture of any true pico or pocket projector.  No, we’re not talking home theater accuracy, but we are talking about doing a rather good job on showing photos, movies, and everything else we through at it from spreadsheets, to PDF documents, to browsing the web. Out of the box, the projector is a bit heavy handed in terms of contrast, but worry not, the HBP503D has a pretty good set of color controls for a relatively inexpensive, non-home theater projector.

 

Standard Test Pattern

A standard test pattern. Note the very small type at the bottom center. A closeup of that area is shown in our discussion of sharpness. The projector has a little bit of trouble with alternating lines of one pixel, but handles most other tests pretty well.

DVE-HD Test

A screen from the DVE-HD test disc we use. Grays look pretty good if a touch on the blue-gray side, and definitely are further improvable from the controls.

Color Accuracy

This was perhaps the biggest surprise.  As we often find that single chip DLP based projectors have serious problems with reds and yellows in their brightest modes, I could barely believe that a pocket projector in its standard mode had vibrant bright reds and yellows without the usual greenish caste.  Blues and reds are a bit strong in Video 1, while video two appears a touch more blue, because Red is reduced slightly.  Skin tones look better on Video 2.  Both images below are with the default settings for the video modes.  Contrast is high, default is 50, better is changing the setting to somewhere in the 35 to 40 range.

 

Click Image to Enlarge

Color is not perfect, but it is really a good deal better than what we are used to in pico and pocket projectors.  As we review a half dozen more of these projectors this summer (this is the first - and we have a brand new, brighter HB Opto projector arriving early July I’m told.) Figure 1 or two pico projectors the rest will be pocket projectors from various brands.

Shown is the HBP503D hiding behind my MacBook Pro.  It is running on its battery pack.  (Note the small battery indicator in the lower right of the screen image.)  You can of course click for the larger image.  Once again, note that the color between the two are very similar.

Bottom line:  Color and overall picture that impresses. This projector can rival much bigger portables, and in some ways surpass them.  Welcome to the HBP503D and a world of pocket projectors that are not total compromises!

Video Mode 1
Video Mode 2
Video Mode 1
+Video Mode 2

HBP503D Video

3D or 2D, the HBP503D does a good job.  Below an image from Iron Man 2. While the black level performance of this projector is hardly noteworthy (nor did we expect it) this image gives you the understanding, that a dark scene like this one can look rather good.

Both 2D and 3D movies were very watchable.  Color as noted above is pretty good.  3D artifacts were a bit worse than I would expect from a home theater projector but then, that was certainly expected. All considering, I wasn’t the least disappointed in the 3D.  The 2D movies and other videos (including personal ones, and one of our Projector Reviews TV videos) all were well handled, even if black levels had to be a disappointment to a hard core home theater guy like myself.   On the road, in Maui, the movies looked just great - on battery, I should note.

Image above – tough one, taken before any color adjustments.  Looks like those slightly strong blues are in play.  Decent, but better after some casual adjusting.

Bottom line on both image quality and video handling.  The HBP503D delivered more and better than I had expected.  While many of these small projectors do a nice job on the hardware, picture quality often lags.  These guys, however, have managed to, by comparison, taken picture quality very seriously.  I may have raved, in the past, about the PK320 pico projector from Optoma as a great pico, but it can’t touch the picture quailty of this HBP503D.  How good is it for doing standard “business” or “educational” videos?  More than just good.  Enough said.

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