Optoma HD70 Home Theater Projector Review:
Summary, Pros, Cons
The Optoma HD70, with its list price of only $999, is (I'll say it again) the least expensive 720p home theater projector on the market. It is definitely a bargain. If your budget is limited to no more than $1000 for a home theater projector, and it works (placement wise) in your room, go out and buy one. Your best alternative under $1000, in my opinion is InFocus's IN72, which beats out the Optoma in black levels by a rather significant margin. The tradeoff, though, is that the IN72 is only a 480p projector - it can't match the resolution, and its pixels are appriately more visible from the same distance from the screen. My own thoughts are, that the HD70 will be preferred by most, except for those truly into the ultimate black levels, and the extra shadow detail such a projector can provide.
If you have extra budget, definitely consider the Mitsubishi HD1000U, with a very slight edge in sharpness (very slight), and more more significantly, a noticeable jump in brightness in best mode, even though they are about the same brightness in their brightest modes. Besides the higher cost of the Mitsubishi, it also only offers a one year warranty vs. the two year warranty on the HD70.
Overall, I found watching the HD70 to be most enjoyable, despite being spoiled by my BenQ PE8720, almost four times the price. (The BenQ is brighter in best modes, and significantly sharper, plus has dramatically blacker blacks, but then, if you are looking at the HD70, the BenQ isn't even close to your budget.
When it comes to the need for brightness, if you do need a real light cannon, look to Panasonic's PT-AX100U, it can't be matched lumen for lumen. If the HD70's level of brightness should be sufficient for you, but sharpness is your "thing" consider the new Sanyo PLV-Z5!
That gives you a few alternatives if your budget is as large as about $1800, but again, I stress, the HD70 is one great value for its price!
Here's how the Optoma HD70 stacks up - good and bad - overall:
- $999 - Great price/performance
- Good shadow detail
- Very good remote control
- Very good warranty
- Well designed menus
- Plenty of control of the image
- Quiet in low power mode
- Ease of use
- Placement flexibility (typical of DLP projectors due to limited zoom range and no adjustable lens shift
- Only one HDMI input
- Large amount of lens offset
- Somewhat noisey in full power mode
- 8 Bit color processing
HD70 Typical Capabilities
- User Manual (good, not great)
- Range of remote control
- Must unmount projector to change lamp
- Black levels
- Lamp Life
Optoma HD70 Summary
I can easily argue that other projectors can match the HD70's price/performance. The thing is, there is always a projector or two offering great price performance in any given price range.
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In the case of under $1000 projectors, the Optoma HD70 gets my vote for best price performance. The combination of good color out of the box, acceptable black levels, reasonably good sharpness and a better than most warranty make the HD70 hard to resist for its price.
True, a number of people will not be able to use it in their rooms, if the HD70 doesn't meet their distance or height positioning requirements, but it will work for most. And some will definitely find the Mitsubishi HD1000U, at its slightly higher price (after you factor the value of its included spare lamp), to be appealing due to significantly more lumens in best mode, but the out of pocket cost difference is likely to be at least $400.
Remember, the HD70 even produces a significant amount of lumens when you really need them, even though its best mode is strictly average in brightness, so it is a good choice if you have a room with good lighting control. You can still handle modest to moderate ambient light when needed.
That about covers it. The Optoma HD70 sets the new standard for under $1000 projectors. At that price, it is definitely a winner.