Optoma HD65 Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance
There's lots to cover in this section. These links will allow you to quickly get to any topics of interest to you.
Optoma HD65 Menus
Optoma HD65 User Memory Settings
HD65 Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Optoma HD65 Projector Brightness
Optoma HD65 Light Leakage
Optoma HD65 Audible Noise Levels
HD65 Projector Screen Recommendations
Optoma offers a very straight forward menu system, built around four main menus, and any number of submenus. I like that the submenus when called upon, bring up all the choices and let you select, as opposed to some projectors that make you toggle through choices without seeing what they are.
Let's start with the Image menu, which controls most of everything that affects the picture quality.
First choice is the Display mode, which brings up a horizontal bar, with the different mode choices: Cinema, Bright, Photo, TV, and User. Also on the main Image menu: Contrast, Brightness, and Sharpness, plus the Advanced menu, which holds lots of choices.
The Advanced menu starts off with degamma choices, basically Film or Video.
Next come Brilliant Color and TrueVivid controls which are discussed elsewhere in this review.
Image AI, can be turned on or off. Note, if On, the Lamp and fan switch to High mode, and the Lamp Hi/Lo option disappears from the Options menus.
Color Temp lets you choose between three settings: Warm, Middle, and Cold. We found Cold works best for everything! The Color Space control, you'll normally leave on Auto, it chooses between RGB and YUV.
That leaves only RGB Gain/Bias, which is where we do all our individual color adjustments when calibrating. That menu looks like this.
The next major menu is the Display menu, shown here.
You get manual control of overscan, or alternatively you might use EdgeMask, which should give you a slightly smaller image but maintain 1 to 1 pixel mapping, compared to Overscan, which simply enlarges the image slightly so that the outermost edges are not displayed. This is done to hide noise artifacts that often show up at the top, bottom or sides of a standard TV image, especially when on a Hi-Def channel.
Optoma has always offered Vertical image shift (horiztonal too on many, including this HD65). The vertical, in particular can be an interesting feature. Let's say you have a 16:9 screen and put in a movie. Typically you'll get the letter boxing (black bars) at top and bottom. With Vertical Image shift, you could slide the whole movie image down, so the bottom of the actual movie is now even with the bottom of the screen. The letterbox at the top, just doubled in size, of course, so that the lower one can be eliminated. Quite honestly, I wish my JVC has this option. Superwide is a feature you are not likely to use, and I should note, not well described in the manual, but seems to offer a stretch option.
That leaves two more main menus. Setup, is straightforward, with language, orientation (ceiling/table, etc.) and the ability to reposition the menus.
Lastly, the Options menu, shown here. Most of the items are self explanatory. Source lock lets you powerup to the same source that was running when shut down, or lets it scan all hooked up sources, until it finds the first good one.
High altitude - kicks up fan speed if you are living at a ski resort, Denver, etc. Optoma, however does not say how far above sea level to use it. Most projectors specify between 4500 and 6500 feet. In high altitude mode, the HD65 starts sounding more like a vaccuum cleaner, and I'd guess it would probably measure around 40 db - very noisy!
Advanced lets you set Auto Power Off, and Sleep Timers.
Lamp settings, let you reset lamp hours when you replace a lamp, and also, if AI is NOTE engaged, lets you toggle between high power, and low power lamp modes. (It essentially defaults to what would be High, if AI is engaged, and the fan runs at the High power speed).
Overall, a very good job, although it would be nice if the Lamp mode still had the Hi/Low option with AI engaged, but a note, that if you select Low, then AI is turned off. That would save much confusion (compared to "where's the darn lamp brightness control?")
HD65 User Memory Settings
Optoma doesn't seem to like nice, neat, savable User settings. Instead, you have one User mode to work with. Likely, the User mode will recognize different input devices, as other Optomas do, however, I did not confirm that, as all the work done so far has been with DVD or Blu-ray, just using a Sony PS3.
It really would be nice if Optoma provided 3, or better 4 or 5 savable user settings, it would make everyone happy I think. The downside to not having them, is not a loss in the ability to have your settings, but rather, if you are watching a movie, using your nicely calibrated User mode, but that movie has its own issues, and you feel the need for, say more contrast, or less red, etc., once you make those changes, you no longer have your previous calibrated settings.
So, the important rule with this HD65, or any other Optoma projector, is to WRITE DOWN the normal settings you are using, so you can get back to them, after playing around to fix content which is atypical.
HD65 Projector - Remote Control
This is the same remote as the HD71 uses, and as a result, I pasted in the Remote section from the HD71 review (replacing the model number). Here it is:
Unlike some other of their remotes, the HD65 remote seems to have plenty of range. One interesting thing - and I never thought I would ever say this, is that the HD65 remote control's backlighting, may actually be a little too bright. I love the blue LED lighting, but when I'm just playing with the settings of the projector through the menus, the remote is so bright, that if I'm holding it in front of me, it's much brighter than the image on the screen, and I can have trouble seeing the subtle changes I'm making with individual color, brightness, and contrast controls.
It's not that big a deal. I have gotten used to hitting a button on the remote (any button lights it up), and then turning the remote over to use, unless I need to read the buttons. Also the remotes buttons stay lit up, for only about five seconds. Still, considering I'm usually complaining that backlit remotes aren't bright enough...
Ok, to the functionality of the remote:
At the top left is the power button - once for on, twice for off. Opposite it, is the Mode button to toggle between modes like Cinema, Bright and so on.
The next two rows have four buttons for the different aspect ratios. the next six buttons in two curved rows, give you control of brightness, vertical keystone correction, contrast, edge masking, overscan, and finally (lower right) the Menu button.
Below those, are the four arrow keys in the typical diamond formation, with the Enter button in the center.
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That only leaves the six direct source buttons on the bottom, one each for HDMI, DVI, VGA, Component, S-Video and Video.
All considered a very good remote.
Optoma HD65 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Wow, no Lens shift - that was easy. Lens throw? This projector has a 1.1:1 zoom, which means only a 10% adjustment range - it's for fine tuning, since you get only about 1 foot of choice, from front to back.
For the standard 100" diagonal screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 11.25 feet, or as far back as 12.34 feet - a difference of roughly 13 inches.
Most Optomas in the past, have had a really large amount of lens offset, meaning the projector needed to be mounted significantly above the top of your screen, or on a table/shelf, significantly below the bottom of your screen. For a 100" screen, most Optomas needed to be about 17 inches offset. This drives people with low ceilings (basement home theaters), crazy, and has often eliminated Optomas from user's choices.
Not so the HD65, which is more moderate, and only requires an offset of 9 and a fraction inches. I consider this a major improvement for most users. Of course, those with high ceilings will have to hang the Optoma down an extra bit.
HD65 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
Like the HD71, pixel visibility is typical for a 720p DLP projector. That is, sit too close and you will start seeing some pixel structure. Too close, however, is just about 10 feet from a 100" diagonal screen about 1.4 times screen width. I watched the HD65 extensively, filling about 125" diagonal of my 128" Firehawk, and sitting about 12.5 feet back. For the most part, pixel structure was invisible to me - until the usual white text credits on black background, and some digital "signage".
The Rainbow Effect, specific to DLP projectors, are quick flashes of red and green, mostly, are seen by a very small segment of the population, mostly when bright objects are moving on a dark background, or the other way around. The Optoma HD65 uses a 4x (4 speed), color wheel, which is slower than the more commonly used 5x wheels on most DLP home theater projectors. It's even slower still, than the HD65's big brother, the HD71 which uses a 6x wheel (that's the fastest I'm aware of), and Optoma uses them in several models.
With the HD65, the Rainbow Effect will be an issue for more people. I am slightly sensitive to it, and when viewing the HD71, seeing it was pretty rare for me (a few times a movie). With switching to the HD65, it's another story, I spot it fairly regularly when there are dark scenes and fairly fast motion. Those sensitive, will have to decide, whether it's an issue for them. Certainly the HD71 would be a better choice and of course, there are plenty of 3LCD projectors - which don't have this issue.
HD65 Projector Brightness
Most impressive. Despite the pretty high claim of 1600 lumens, I had preferred to review the HD71 first - as it was the "bright one" claiming 2400 lumens. I really expected the HD65 to be rather average in its brightness performance.
While it never lived up to its rated 1600 lumens, even in its brightest mode, it was impressively bright in its best mode - Cinema.
In Cinema mode, before any adjustment of the HD65 projector, measured 665 lumens in full power mode (bright lamp). In low power, that drops to a still bright 615 lumens. Note, that the projector runs officially in high power if AI is engaged.
Switching to Bright mode, the HD65 puts out an impressive 1140 lumens, but still more than 25% below claim. Nonetheless, the HD65 is brighter than average, even though it can't match the brightest ones, like the Panasonic PT-AX200U, their own HD71, or the Epson Home Cinema 720.
Once calibrated, best mode, drops only slightly to 625 lumens. Considering many of the competition are in the 300 to 500 range, that makes the HD65 a cut above typical projectors in best mode.
This was Mike's first measurements and calibration for us, and he got a little carried away doing a quick calibration of Bright mode. He got the picture quality very close to the calibrated best mode, at 765 lumens, whereas I was hoping his quick tune up would still sacrifice a little more perfection to maintain lumens.
I actually find the defaults for Bright to be good enough. After all, this is the mode for some ambient light. Thus, despite his 765 lumens, let's just say you can still maintain very good (but not as good) color and image performance while still maintaining close to that 1140 lumens.
Two other measurements were taken, for the default Photo mode - 730 lumens, and TV mode 530 lumens.
Here are the same images shot with different modes, at the same exposure. That way you see the relative brightess difference between the modes, Note, since Bright Mode is not particularly overexposed, the others are dark, and therefore appear a bit contrasty, or oversaturated. You are looking at these four images solely for regular brightness, as they do not reflect color saturation accurately:
User mode (Calibrated):
TV mode (note image looks closer, since this kicks on overscan):
HD65 Projector - Light Leakage
The Optoma HD65 definitely leaks some light. Some comes out the lens, slightly illuminating the wall below the image. More light comes out the exhaust vent on the front right. This light is more likely to hit your side wall, in front of the projector. Neither leak is dramatic, but those who are critical will definitely dislike this aspect of the HD65.
HD65 Audible Noise Levels
Claiming 29 db (it didn't specify low or high lamp mode, so we'll assume low), the HD65 is a definitely a bit noisy. Fortunately switching to high power doesn't increase the noise as much as with most other projectors.
I do have trouble with the 29 db claim. We don't measure noise here, but the audible output of this projector seems more typical of projectors claiming 31 to 33 db. The noise adverse won't like this projector in high power, and maybe not in low power. Certainly there are dramatically quieter projectors, most of them of the 3LCD variety.
HD65 Projector Screen Recommendations
If you are buying the HD65 because you want a great little projector, no muss, no fussing around, and aren't worried about the last bit of black levels, etc., I think a nice white surface screen, with some gain - such as the Carada Brilliant White surface, or one of the screens with 1 to 1.4 gain from the likes of Elite, Da-lite, and others produce.
If you are primarily watching movies, and not worried about really bright for sports and some TV viewing, then you've got a pretty bright projector here, with over 600 lumens in best mode, and you can treat yourself to a pretty large screen. I've mostly been watching movies at about 120" or even a bit larger diagonal, and there's brightness to spare (compared to most).
I use a high contrast gray surface, not even a positive gain white screen. It helps control the black levels, so, if you are more performance orientented in this regard, try a high contrast gray surface.
If dealing with some ambient light, and you like sports, etc (not cave style), the HD71 might be the better choice, being brighter still, but if the HD65 appeals to you, I'd say go with those plus gain screens, but limit the size to 120" diagonal maximum, or a little less.
HD65 Projector Measurements and Calibration
OK, from the top:
There are three color temperature modes - Warm, Medium, and Cool were measured, at 100 IRE (white), for three of the four main modes:
Cinema: 5177 (Warm), 6020 (Medium), 6570 (Cold)
Bright: 6092 (Warm), 6774 (Cold)
Photo: 5967 (Medium), 6660 (Cold)
TV: 6505 (No temp choices available)
As you can see above, the Cold setting looks best for hitting the ideal 6500K target (actually 6480K is technically corrected but most people just refer to 6500K).
After adjustment, these were the final temperature measuresments:
80 IRE: 6650K
50 IRE: 6505K
30 IRE: 6505K
That's about as good as it gets with all temperatures in a tight 165K range.
To get those numbers, these ended up as our User defined settings:
UserMode Bright Mode
Contrast = -4 Contrast = -4
Brightness = 2 Brightness = 0
Gain R = 5 Gain R = 5
G = 0 G = 0
B = 2 B = -2
Bias R = -3 Bias R = -1
G = 0 G = 0
B = 0 B = 0
You may want to try out these settings and compare them to the defaults (cold color temp) for Bright Mode. As mentioned elsewhere, these Bright Mode settings produce a really good image, you will find that the default though is over 50% brighter. Many will favor leaving bright mode pretty much at the default settings, to enjoy the extra horsepower.
Thanks to Mike's work, we now have an image and some charts, in addition to the numbers above: The main image here, shows the accuracy of the colors, and as you can see not only do the primaries (Red, Green, Blue) look really good, but even the secondaries (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta) look good as well.
You can see here, the square in the center indicating our ideal color temperature. There are also 6 small circles connected by the lines. Those represent the ideal points for each primary and secondary color. The diamond in the center, represents the projector's color temp. The triangles (represent measured results) by each circle, show how close the H65 comes to hitting each target.
Below is a chart showing the primary colors each is within a couple of percent of the ideal 100% for each color (that's not much at all), except down at the low end under 30 IRE where our current equipment isn't accurate.
Overall the results look extremely good, which is equally apparent when watching the fully calibrated Optoma HD65.
HD65 Image Noise
Pretty much the same as the HD71: "Not great, not bad." DLP projectors tend to show more basic image noise than 3LCD projectors, and this Optoma projector is fairly typical in that regard. The good news is, it isn't over the top. I would say, definitely acceptable. Interestingly, Optoma doesn't have any noise filter. We're talking about the basic image noise that you typically only would notice in fairly stationary images in bright areas.
When it comes to motion artifacts, and and some other more "sophisticated" types of noise, the HD65 passes all the noise tests on the Silicon Optix test disc.