Optoma HD23 Projector - Image Quality
A lot of processing goes on from the start of a photo shoot until you are viewing the Optoma HD23 images on your computer screen. As a result, these images are reasonable indications, but not accurate enough for truly comparing color, saturation and other aspects. Note: Selected images relating to shadow detail, and especially black level performance can be somewhat effective at demonstrating how the HD23 compares to other home projectors. Different computers, browsers, displays, graphics cards, and software affect how the image looks on your screen.
The HD23 images came out looking very good, although when viewed on my Macbook Pro screen, a slight bit oversaturated.
If you think these pictures look good, just wait until you take an HD23 home.
12/5/12 - Art Feierman
Optoma HD23 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Not an ugly mode in the group, all the preset modes vary from pretty good to exceptionally good. Cinema mode, for example, is nice, a bit cool, but with otherwise pretty well balanced color. This is a mode you can watch anything on. Reference (or User mode) is not as bright, but a little more natural - a "best mode" as we refer to it.
If you become a real enthusiast, you can get the HD23 calibrated. Less expensive, try our settings, but even the "right out of the box" settings will not offend. They always look at least as good as you would expect from a good LCDTV.
Optoma HD23 Projector - Flesh Tones
Using the HDMI inputs, there's no access to the color or tint controls. With that the case, skin tones sometimes seem to have a bit too much red, due to color saturation, with no ability to conveniently reduce them. For a family room projector, picture quality (notably skin tones), are very pleasing. I've found the HD23 to rather forgiving when viewed.
Above, from Lord of the Rings: Gandalf
Above, Leeloo (The Fifth Element) demonstrated the really good skin tones. There's a bit of a natural feel and texture. The HD23 really looks incredible similar to the HD33 when it comes to skin tones.
Below are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Craig - to have different looking skin tones. All look pretty good!
I said above - very similar to the Optoma HD33, here's the same Bond image from the HD33 below. They truly are strikingly similar, although the HD23 image is a touch darker due to the exposure differences:
More images we like for considering skin tones:
The image immediately above with Willis and Morgan Freeman is a good example of a scene where the reds can be a bit strong in the skin tones. It won't happen in bright scenes, but darker ones.
Optoma HD23 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
HD23 Black Level Performance, as stated elsewhere is entry level. Optoma claims a 5000:1 contrast ratio and by today's standards, that's very near the bottom of the food chain, for any projector headed for the home. Black level performance is ok for the price, as this projector isn't for those looking for "high performance" in that area. The least expensive projector I can think of with what we call "ultra high contrast" performance is th Acer H9500BD, but that's far more expensive at $1599.
I didn't do any side by side photo shoots with the HD23 projector. Sorry about that. If I can hang on to it a bit longer, I've got the BenQ W1070 (recently going on sale in the US as I write this), coming back from one of our two "gaming with projectors" bloggers. This HD23 will soon be heading to the other gaming blogger.
Our primary look at black level performance is the Starship image from The Fifth Element. All the images are at least a good bit overexposed. This allows you to get a better handle on the black levels.A lot of bright stars in its own right may just reflect gamma differences. It's the blacks you want to be watching).
Note that the letterbox area of the HD23 image immediately below, is already a medium dark gray. If the letterbox areas are the same brightness on two different projector's starship images, then the one with the most overexposed starship is the one with the better black levels on this, and similar scenes. Well, this starship appears barely overexposed at all, indicating unimpressive blacks.
Further down on the list of images is the $2600 Epson with exceptional blacks, note how incredibly overxposed the starship looks there.
Here's the Optoma HD33:
Acer H9500BD: (Best black levels we've seen that sells for well under $2000) The Acer is just a touch more overexposed, but the blacks there are very black (I should have overxposed the Acer image more). Look at the difference - stunning:
Panasonic PT-AR100U - (Panasonic's $1199 light canon of a 2D projector) Blacks are a bit better than the HD23 - still a far cry from the Acer above, however.:
Mitsubishi HC4000. This projector always had pretty decent blacks considering it has no form of dynamic iris or dynamic lamp dimming:
Top under $3000 projector for blacks - Epson HC5020 UB projector (compared to these others, the starship is a lot brighter, and the lettterbox at least as dark.
Vivitek H1080FD ($899): Blacks here are pretty much in line with the HD23's.
BenQ W6000, This BenQ costs only a few hundred more but has dramatically better blacks. The projector has been around for 3 years (at one point $2499) An old image (and taken with a different camera), the letterbox isn't there for reference, but this projector has far superior blacks:
Optoma HD20: Older, litte brother to the HD23 - one in the same case, is extremely similar but less bright. Comparable blacks.
Overall, the Optoma HD23's black levels are entry level. This should be acceptable to anyone who's standards consider any good LCDTV to have acceptable blacks. In a family room / living room type environment, with typical light colored walls and other surfaces, and minor ambient light, most of the advantage of great blacks gets lost. Still, an advantage will always be there even if far less noticeable. Check out our video on black levels.
Shadow Detail Performance
Our primary comparison image is the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Optoma, followed by the BenQ W1200, Viewsonic Pro8200, the HC4000, the BenQ W6000, then Sony VPL-HW15, the Sharp XV-Z15000.
All considered, the HD23 shadow detail is very good, although not outstanding. That's not surprising for a projector with less than great black levels. Everything is brighter - blacks, and near blacks, so dark detail tends to be brighter, if nothing else, and therefore easier to see. No complaints here. We'll have to see what my gaming bloggers have to say about whether all the dark details they need for good gaming are visible.
Optoma HD23 Projector:
Optoma HD33: (pretty close to identical, in both dark detail (shrubs, etc.) and also black levels, based on viewing this image
The venerable Mitsubishi HC4000 (now in its 3rd year). A bit darker exposure, but dark shadow detail comparable, or a bit better.
BenQ W6000 (once a far more expensive projector, shipping for over 3 years):
Epson Home Cinema 8350 (a top selling projector, major competitor, entering it's 3rd year, brighter, lens shift, selling for far less than originally at $1199):
Epson Home Cinema 3020: ($1599, 3D, really bright). Also a bit better on dark shadow detail (this image is more overexposed)
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: HD23 Projector - Bottom Line
Black levels are entry level. Handling of dark shadow detail is very good, although not exceptional. Both are about what you expect in a sub-$1000 projector.
Optoma HD23 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
What I really like about the Optoma HD23 is that after watching a wide range of content, the overall color, and picture in general, looks good. It never appeared seriously over the top, or wrong. As just stated, blacks are entry level, while shadow detail is very good.
Skin tones are extremely good for such a low cost projector. That's not surprising, you're not going to have consistant, good skin tones, if overall color is not well balanced. Even without calibration (or our adjustments), they look pretty good.
All considered, picture wise, the HD23 projector produces a very pleasing picture, that won't offend. Better blacks would be great, but then this wouldn't be a $999 projector targeting the family room type of setup, it would cost far more.
A mix of additional images to show off the Optoma HD23:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Optoma HD23 Projector: HDTV and Sports Viewing
To the right, are two images that should the back light sources. To get an idea of how bright, the recessed ceiling lights are 65 watt equivalent LEDs. The other room has a giant skylight in it. There is one shutter on the window to the right of the screen. Blinds open about 1/3 of the way. Light on the back of the chairs is a good indication of the actual brightness. The room still looks pretty dark, but for the screen, but that's due to all flat black and dark navy blue surfaces - classic "cave".
Almost any mode will do for sports viewing. I'd skip Photo though unless you need high contrast to cut through ambient light, and use Cinema or Bright. Save the less bright User or Reference modes for more critical viewing.
Sports (mostly football) looked really good. The overall image not only looks nice and sharp, but the colors are all pretty believable. You might want to dial back the color saturation a little, unless you have some ambient light you are cutting through.
All the images below were taken using Cinema mode, non-football images were taken with about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the ambient light levels used for the football shots. Room shots show how it looked for football images.
Speaking of which - She wants to know if "you're ready for some football"?
No, not swimming, I said football!
Team uniforms looked good, as did the skin tones as you can see. The default Cinema mode is a little cool - more blue - less red, but that should not be a problem at all. Even if a balanced 6500K is technically ideal, I've often felt 7000 - 7500K is easier for sports viewing. It's not surprising that most "Living Room" or similar brighter modes tend to be cool.
Most impressive for under $1000.
You might consider Photo mode if you are dealing with lots of ambient light. It's definitely more contrasty. In a good light controlled room, it's going to be just a little over the top for HDTV viewing, but it may be a great choice under poorer circumstances. Photo is also the coolest mode, where white measures in way up around 9000K.
Since all the modes are relatively similar in brightness, though, that's hardly a concern. Regarding the image below, not bad, but with the ambient light used (shown above) for the football images, this image just lacks the pop it would have if the lights were off and there was a bit less light from the windows.
As mentioned on the first page, the HD23 does not offer any creative frame interpolation ("smooth motion"). That's almost always a plus for sports viewing, but also a feature most of us could live happily even without it.
Below: Florence and the Machine, and a "hobbit" home on HGTV. (so cool!)
Optoma HD23 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports
Go for it. It's a good sharp picture with good color and 1100+ lumens for really good looking sports viewing. Switching to some of my other favorite things, such as music videos, they too looked great.
Below, an image from the last summer Olympics on NBC. Nice vibrant colors, even without the room exceptionally dark.