Optoma HD70 Projector Review - Image Quality
The Optoma HD70, an entry level home theater projector produces surprisingly good colors "out of the box" without any adjustment. Although a basic calibration was done before these images were photographed, the changes brought about by the adjustments were very minor, mostly reducing reds slightly in the darker grayscale range.
Let's start with handling of flesh (skin) tones. The HD70 did extremely well, as you can see from the first group of images below. For most images on this page, you can click on the image for a much larger version. A good number of the images found here, are also found on most other recent reviews. It will not always be exactly the same frame, but close enough that the color balance is the same.
All five images above were from standard DVD sources, the first two (Arwen and Gandalf) from Lord of the Rings, the next two (Leeloo, and Bruce Willis) from The Fifth Element, and the last one is Will Smith in I, Robot.
The next two are from Phantom of the Opera, and Space Cowboys, both, in this case, from HD-DVD disks.
You should have the idea by now: Pretty impressive, especially for the least expensive 720p HD resolution home theater projector on the market!
The Optoma HD70 also does a respectable job on black levels. The next collection of images includes standard DVD and Hi-Def (HD-DVD) ones. The HD70's black levels are not up to slightly higher end projectors like Mitsubishi's well regarded HC3000, or, for that matter the lastest in LCD home theater projectors from Panasonic and Sanyo. Considering that it is 1/3 to half the price of those other projectors, and since the black levels are low enough to produce detailed images in dark areas, the HD70 gets high marks.
I'll start you off with some star scenes from various movies:
The image above, is from Starship Troopers, on standard DVD. Not only are blacks good, but colors are richly saturated and very dynamic.
Sin City is a movie that is generally very dark and often black and white or sepia and white with spot colors added for effect. These again, are standard DVD.
Note the shadow detail in the right side of Nancy's face, I've seen more expensive projectors that tend to lose some of that, with the dark parts of her face coming out black.
This second image with Nancy dancing allows you to look at shadow detail in the bricks, beams, and pillars.
Moving back to outer space, the HD70 does a very good job on the star field, with very little loss of stars compared to much more expensive projectors. It cannot however produce anywhere as black a "black" as say, any of the Darkchip3 DLP projectors (start at $2500 these days with the Optoma HD7100). the blacker the blacks the richer and more depth the scene has. Again, though performance for price is excellent. The more expensive Sanyo, Panasonic and Epson projectors can also do better, with their AI engaged, but to varying degrees.
Moving to HD-DVD, more space scenes - this time from Space Cowboys:
Coming back down to earth, consider this pair of images from Phantom of the Opera, (HD-DVD). The first image is normally exposed, however the limits of a digital camera are greater than the projectors, and the result is shadow detail is lost. In the second image of the same frame, the image is overexposed significantly, so you can see what detail is there in the walls and floors (note the images), that are lost by the camera in the first shot:
Here's another pair - from Lord of the Rings, again, the first has a normal exposure, the second, overexposed to bring out details in the shed and bottom:
The HD70 definitely has rich colors. Now, I realize that TI's BrilliantColor tends to enhance colors, but I have always been impressed with Optoma's color handling. Consider these images, first from Starship Troopers (standard DVD):
And HD-DVD - again from Space Cowboys:
Sharpness of the HD70 is fairly typical for the under $2000 projectors, although several are just a touch sharper. While its definitely not as sharp as the sharpest (Sanyo's Z5, in my opinion) I watched hours of content, and never found sharpness to be an issue.
Here is a close up photo from the same Phatom image above, of the star's necklace. Click to enlarge. Immediately below it, for sharpness comparison, is a similar image from the the Sanyo PLV-Z5, which is visibly sharper.
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All the images you have seen have been in the Cinema mode. The next group of images are from HDTV sources and were shot with moderate ambient light in the room, with the projector set to Bright mode:
But HDTV is not just about football (at least I don't think it is?).
In this shot of Jay Leno, the larger version is cropped a bit
8 Bit Color per channel (24 bit): One minor downside to the HD70 is that it processes colors at a maximum of 16 million colors. Now that may seem like a lot, but almost all home theater projectors today are at least 10 bit, which gives you about 1 Billion colors. Believe it or not, you can see the difference. If you have 8 bit processing, you may run out of subtle shades in a face, so you get a bit of flatness, in the image. In the case of the HD70, this is true, but barely visible. I was able to spot this on occasion, but rarely unless I was looking for it. This limitation may occasionally bother those extremely critical, but for most people its just fine and a minor tradeoff against a low price and good performance elsewhere.
That about covers it for the Image Quality section, so here are just a few more images for your general viewing:
Last note. The Optoma also did a good job on the opening black and white scene in Phantom, although several of the more expensive projectors are able to pull out some details in the left side of this very dark image.:
And two last images from Phantom that are good for shadow detail demonstration as well as contrast.
Wildlife anyone? from DiscoveryHD channel:
Enough! Time for the General Performance section.