Optoma H27 - General Performance
The lamp is rated 2000 hours in Brite mode, and 3000 in Standard mode. Standard mode provides sufficient brightness for screens up to 100" diagonal under typical theater lighting (or slightly larger screens with higher gain screens). This translates into an extremely low cost of operation if you use standard mode, but even in Brite mode its operational cost is still lower than most competitors.
The Optoma H27 remote control is fully backlit, has a logical layout, and provides single button access to the most popular menu items, such as brightness, contrast, aspect ratio, and source selection.
You can also access the image shift, to move the image up and down (covered elsewhere).
The arrow keys, enter and menu button are near the top of the remote, (along with Power, Hide, and "re-sync" which is an auto setup).
You can also freeze any image, with (of course) the Freeze button. Keystone correction buttons are also there, but - picture quality is better if you don't mess with keystone correction. That advice is true for any home theater projector, since keystone correction definitely (if only slightly) degrades the image quality.
A good remote means that you don't have to do much navigating of menus - as the most popular things you want to access, are accessible from a single button. That said, there are often things you want to change with a home theater projector, such as the settings between "movie" modes and those designed more for normal TV or sports viewing, or you might want to readjust for different room lighting...
There is no "main menu" on the Optoma H27. Pressing Menu on the remote or the projector brings up the menu above. The "main menu" is on the left, (where it stays regardless of which of the major menus (Image 1, Image 2, Management and System) you are looking at. This is great! It basically saves you one extra layer to navigate through, for, by simply using the down arrow key, you can see ALL the major menu items from the four major menus. If you are looking for something, this will really save time.
The Optoma H27 projector offers a number of "Display modes", with separate settings for Movie, TV, "normal" Game and also two user programmable settings. In addition there are controls for contrast, brightness sharpness, "degamma" (adjusts the gamma curve which affects the "brightness of the overall image without any real effect on the very darkest or brightest parts), color, tint, and a reset. Depending on whether you are feeding it a computer source or a video source will affect the options, as you will not have access to the color or tint control with a computer source.
Changing from one display mode (movie...) to another will affect the numbers you see for brightness, contrast etc. As a result, if you are calibrating, start with a choice (movie, tv...) that looks very good, and take it from there. Ultimately regardless of where you start, you will end up with the same final settings.
If you will be calibrating - or just setting up the projector in general, I suggest saving two final sets of settings - one for dark room, and one if you watch with some lights on.
The next menu is Image II, and that's where you will find the more advanced features including color temperature, aspect ratio and "advanced adjustment" which gives you independent control of reds, greens, and blues. You will definitely need this if you are calibrating, and probably if you are just fine tuning the color to your taste.
The remaining two menus have some gems you'll want to find. On management is the Brite mode, which maximizes brightness (for really large screens or fighting some ambient light). Note, the brighter mode does not damage the projector's contrast ratio, or otherwise affect the overall image quality in any detectable way. The other interesting item is image shift. This allows you (lets say you are viewing a typical DVD and have the black areas at the top and bottom) to move the image up or down. Now where this gets interesting, is if you have a motorized screen (or a pull down) and if you can control how far down they open. You could move the image up, and not have the screen drop all the way down. Effectively you can end up with showing less screen, so that the image fills the entire screen - flush with the screen casing at the top, and down to the bottom of the screen. Of course this only works if you can control the screen drop!
The last (System) menu lets you control more mundane features - such as Hi altitude mode (fan is faster and louder), moving the location of the menus on the screen, auto power options, and more.
Rainbow Effect - DLP projector color wheel speed
Unlike some low cost DLP "powered" home theater projectors, the Optoma has a fast color filter wheel; 4x speed, and six segments. Now, the much more expensive DLP home theater projectors typically have a 5x wheel, but that is a minor difference compared to the 2x color filter wheels found on most low cost DLP projectors.
As a result, the rainbow effect should not be visible to the vast majority of viewers. There is no good published info out there as to what percentage of the population is bothered by the rainbow effect when viewing video on 2x, 3x, 4x or 5x color wheels, but lets say this, with a 4x or 5x wheel if you have yourself and 20 friends over for a movie, most likely none would see it, but maybe one person would be able to detect the rainbow effect, and that person, probably might see it only occasionally when moving their head, etc. In other words - don't worry about it. If you instead went with a DLP projector with a 2x wheel, a best guess is that one person in five to one in 10 people would see it. If it turns out that the H27 has a visible rainbow effect that bothers you, you've got a problem with DLP projectors, because it basically means that it is likely that you will not be able to enjoy any current model DLP projector, and will need to look to LCD projectors instead. Of course, the likelyhood of that happening is very remote. (Still its a good reason to buy from an authorized dealer that has some form of upgrade path that won't kill you with restocking fees.)
Not a problem with this projector, at all. The Optoma H27 projector claims less than 27 db, in standard mode, and if possible it may be quieter than that! They do not publish a spec for Bright mode, however, in listening to the change in noise levels, I would put the noise level in bright mode at 30-31 db, still nice and quiet, and definitely quieter than the InFocus 4805 and about the same as the BenQ PE5120 (which claims 29 db - possibly optimistically).
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The H27 projector does leak a little light out the vents in the front. The good news is that it doesn't hit the screen. What little light that leaks out the front is aimed down (if you are on a table, or up on your ceiling - if the projector is ceiling mounted (for you novices - when ceiling mounted projectors are mounted upside down). The amount of light leak is small and since the projector normally sits at least as far back as the audience, it should be not be an issue at all.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Optoma says their AI circuitry which looks at the content "frame by frame" and adjusts output to optimize picture quality, increases their effective contrast all the way up to an impressive 4000:1. As mentioned earlier, "AI" type circuitry is appearing in more and more home theater projectors, and the overall result is to provide a better viewing image.
Like almost all lower cost projectors, Optoma's H27 projector does not have adjustable lens shift. This means that you will want to mount the projector (ceiling, shelf or table) at the correct specified height relative to the screen. The Optoma H27 will position with the center of its lens above the top of the screen or below the bottom, typically by a half foot to perhaps less than 2 feet, depending on the size of screen and the position of the zoom. This is, overall, what you want in a fixed lens shift projector, a good angle for most rooms. If you have a low ceiling, you will have to mount the top of the screen still lower, which could be a problem, especially in some basements.
Optional Wide Angle Lens Adapter.
Because the Optoma has a pretty long throw zoom lens, it sits further back than many projectors. If you need it to be positioned closer, a 0.8x lens adapater is available, and it will let you move the projector 20% closer.