Optoma H57: Summary, Pros Cons and Typical Attributes
If this projector was selling online for around $3000 (as it was only weeks ago), it just wouldn't cut it. But with the newly revealed and huge price drop, we now have a truly serious contender here.
While I favor DLP projectors over LCD for home theater, pricing differences between the two technologies has resulted in LCD HT projectors dominating the $2000 selling price area, while DLP's have pretty much owned the $3500 - $15,000 dollar range (note the new BenQ 7700 brings 720p DLP projectors down below $3000 street price for the first time). While there have been slightly lower resolution DLP projectors around $2000 - notably the NEC HT510, in reviewing them I have for various reasons, favored the LCD projectors to the 1024x576 DLP's.
The Optoma H57 projector, using the newer Darkchip2 DLP chip (vs the Matterhorn on the NEC and old BenQ), for whatever reasons, seems to not only have a projector that I find more pleasing than the BenQ 7800 and NEC HT510 to watch, but one that I believe a significant number of people will prefer to the LCD projectors, for image quality. Certainly, even in their dimmest modes the competing LCD projectors contrast and shadow detail handling is sigificantly inferior to the H57 projector. I enjoy the Panasonic's vibrant colors, but it certainly has found an equal here with the H57, in fact I would give the H57 projector the edge on color saturation on medium to bright scenes.
On the downside, the H57 is typical of the DLP projectors in that it is somewhat limited in features. It's zoom lens while longer throw (and has the optional wide angle adapter, has a limited range compared to the Panasonic. Most significantly missing is lens shift. (In fairness most projectors lack it) Both the Sanyo Z3 and the Panasonic AE700u home theater projectors offer variable lens shift which simplifies ceiling mounting or placing the projector on a low table. (You don't want to use keystone correction - it adds distortion to the image.)
Some will argue that the H57 (being a 576p projector) isn't technically a HDTV device (officially that requires at least 720p), but that is splitting hairs.
What we have here, is a projector that will blow you away with the richness of its colors, the lack of any significant artifacts that I could detect, an exceptionally bright image, and many modes, including a couple of good ones that will help you cut through ambient light when watching sports, HDTV, etc.
- Overall picture quality "Vibrant"
- Stunning color saturation (especially for a DLP projector)
- Excellent shadow detail, high contrast, some of the "blackest blacks" around
- One of the brightest projectors in the class
- Well designed easy to use menus
- Price Performance
- Extremely quiet
- Separate DVI-I, Computer, and component video inputs, and according to their website you can input component video on both the DVI and the computer - allowing for 3 component sources if you don't hook up a computer or DVI source. Great for those without a receiver that can switch multiple component sources (like your DVD player, cable/satellite box...)
- Superior sharpness when handling 480i, 480p sources (DVD), compared to other DLP projectors with the same 1024x576 resolution
- Excellent job on HiDef sources
- Rather average 2000 hour lamp life at full power
- No lens shift
- Remote - its actually respectable, but many others have done much better
- Menus are large can get in the way
- Ok styling
Finally a serious contender for the dominating Panasonic AE700u. Will you buy this slightly lower resolution projector? Tough call. If you like the advantages of DLP (more film-like for lack of a better subjective term), blacker blacks (those bars at the top and bottom when you watch a DVD won't be medium dark gray (like the LCD projectors - they'll be "really dark gray", then this is a must consider. On the downside, it lacks the lens shift and the super wide range zoom lens of the Panasonic. Of course that's not likely to be an issue for most people ceiling mounting their projectors.
The Optoma H57 earns a Hot Product Award! (Like the Panasonic AE700u)!
Summary, Pros, Cons