Optoma H57 - Projector Performance: Image Quality
Color handling is beautiful. I have seen color richness here that I haven't seen on any other sub $5000 selling price DLP projector. When watching Lord of the Rings I marvelled at the deep blue color that was part of Bilbo's book cover. In watching that sequence over and over on my BenQ 8700+ and other projectors I never noticed it before.
Darker scenes are particularly vivid. Shadow detail is every bit the equal to the more expensive BenQ Pe8700+.
On the left is the closing scene from Bulletproof Monk. The greens are off the chart for richness, while the reds, browns and purples are vibrant. The whites/near whites of the sidewalk are not crushed (something I noticed on the same scene with the Panasonic AE700u).
The Optoma projector wins big here! Remember that this is merely a 1024x576 resolution projector, competing in price with a number of 1280x720p LCD projectors. When reviewing the BenQ 7800 and also the NEC HT510, I observed that both looked a little soft on DVD material (480p), yet rose to the occassion looking much sharper when feed 1080i Hi-Def content. Since the DVD source material is lower resolution than the projector, you would expect a good projector with this resolution to do as good a job in sharpness as a 720p projector. But that was obviously not the case for the old BenQ or the NEC HT510. Even on this tiny (reduced resolution) image to the right you get the idea - a very sharp looking image.
The H57 projector definitely looks sharper than those two on DVD source material, though no better on HDTV. I will attribute that to having a better scaler. Apparently its pretty easy to go from DVD to 720p and be sharp, but much more of a challenge to get to the intermediate resolution of these 1024x576 projectors.
So while you will expect a slight improvement in sharpness on HDTV from the likes of the Panasonic and other 720p projectors, the H57 looks every bit as sharp with DVD sources. And the slight difference on HDTV, you are only likely to notice if you sit moderately close. Those sitting say 14-15 feet from a 100" screen aren't likely to notice any difference at all in sharpness compared to the Panasonic.
Out of the box color was excellent, of course that's getting more common. I didn't have the time to calibrate with my Avia disk, but I doubt that there would have been any but the most minor changes. Flesh tones were almost universally acceptable, but if I wasn't perfectly happy, the shift was ever so slightly to the reddish-purple (better than shifting to yellow). Most often they looked great, and the controls easily handled minor adjustments.
Like many HT projectors there are multiple modes - Cinema, Normal, Vivid, etc. There are always multiple great settings - different for movies (and sometimes different movies) HDTV, rooms with more ambient light, etc. Plenty to keep the avid tweaker happy. Still the richness and balance of the projector's color handling, makes this one of the best out of the box (comparable to the BenQ 7700, which when I got done calibrating I wondered if it was really worth all the time)!
Noise: Very, Very Quiet! There are only 2 or 3 projectors that claim as quiet a spec as the Optoma H57. I don't have the ability to measure noise levels, but this one is quiet enough that it is a non-issue.