Optoma HD71 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 HD71 Menus
Optoma HD71 User Memory Settings
HD71 Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Optoma HD71 Projector Brightness
Optoma HD71 Light Leakage
Optoma HD71 Audible Noise Levels
HD71 Projector Screen Recommendations
Sorry folks! These will have to wait until I get back from Japan. Look for them the week of 4/28.
HD71 User Memory Settings
Same as above
HD71 Projector - Remote Control
I like this Optoma remote. Unlike some other of their remotes, it seems to have plenty of range. One interesting thing - and I never thought I would ever say this, is that the HD71 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 give 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.
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.
HD71 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Well, the HD71 has no adjustable lens shift, which means you will either be ceiling mounting the projector or placing it on a table. Wall mounting isn't a viable option. The zoom lens itself has very limited range, being a 1.1:1 ratio. This means, for a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 11 feet 3 inches, or as far back as about 12 feet 5 inches. That's just less than a fourteen inch placement range.
In other words, you pretty much put the projector where it needs to be, and have just enough zoom to make it fit the screen perfectly.
HD71 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
For those sensitive to the rainbow effect, the HD71 has good and bad news. The bad news is that it is a very bright projector, and many claim that the brighter the image the more susceptable to the Rainbow Effect. The good news is that the HD71 uses Optoma's 6X wheel, whereas most projectors have only 5X wheels. I have definitely found that Optoma's 6X wheel is better. I am susceptable to RBE, and Definitely have not noticed it as much on other Optoma's such as the HD8000, etc, as on my old BenQ DLP that I owned (5X).
With the HD71, I would agree, I find RBE more visible than with the less bright, 1080p Optoma projectors, but, I'm probably still noticing it no more, and probably a little less than with other DLP projectors with 5X wheels.
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 HD71 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".
HD71 Projector Brightness
Wow time. Optoma has never really created a fully tricked out "how bright can I get this projector" mode, but, I'll get back to that in a moment.
OK, starting with Cinema Mode and everything at default, the Optoma HD71 measured a whopping 1463 lumens!
Unfortunately, those default settings do not yield a great picture. After doing the usual contrast and brightness adjustments and a grayscale balance, the HD71 now measured a still incredibly impressive 1040 lumens.
I should note that Optoma has TI's Brilliant Color, and their TruVid adjustments. This creates way too many combinations, and it affects brightness tremendously.
For example, but toning down Brilliant Color from default 7, to 1, and TruVid, from default of 1, to 0, using the original settings that yielded 1463 lumens, only 885 lumens remained - a drop of about 40%.
Ok, back to the 1040 lumens. Cinema with those settings (listed in the calibration section below), looked very good.
Using those same grayscale settings, but engaging Bright, instead of Cinema, took us back up to 1635 lumens, enough to equal the Epson Home Cinema 720, but still far from the Panasonic PT-AX200U's brightest. Remember though, that even the Panasonic - at brightest, doesn't offer great color accuracy. Figure that the Optoma in bright mode, with the default settings, should break 2000 lumens, and if you really don't care about picture quality, because you are in an impossibly bright room, take Brilliant Color to 10, and crank up TruVid too. I didn't measure, but logic says the projector should get close to its claimed 2400 lumens. It won't be color accurate, but it will cut through the ambient light as well as any projector except the Panasonic, and not be too far behind it.
Let it be noted that Photo Mode measured 1290 lumens, and TV mode, 966 lumens!
HD71 Projector - Light Leakage
No real problems here. A little light out the vents, no significant impact on to the screen or front wall.
HD71 Audible Noise Levels
Tsk, Tsk! The HD71 is not overly quiet. It really is fairly typical for a DLP home theater projector. Optoma claims 27db in eco-mode, and 29 db in full power, however, I am skeptical. The eco-mode number is probably realistic, but when you go to full power (which also happens when you engage AI for better contrast), it seems like a jump of 4-6 db, and that would be, in my estimation, about right - something close to 32 - 33 db.
Those who are noise adverse will not be happy in full power or AI mode. Those who are really noise adverse, will probably look elsewhere. Keep in mind that LCD projectors as a group tend to be quieter than DLP projectors, although the HD71 is probably not really much noisier than the Epson Home Cinema 720, which is the noisiest of the LCD models.
HD71Projector Screen Recommendations
The bigger the better! Actually, the HD71 gives you the freedom to handle a large screen, like my 128" Firehawk, rather effortlessly, even in its best mode, with lamp on low.
Since the black levels are not spectacular, you may want to choose a high contrast gray surface, like the Firehawk, or more likely other more affordable HC gray surfaces, since any Firehawk, costs more than the HD71. Look to those HC gray screens from Da-lite, Elite, Carada, all of which are rather affordable.
That type of screen will work especially well if you have ambient light issues coming from side sources, as they "reject" side lighting, to a certain extent.
On the other hand, if you just want to go with a really large screen, which will spread out those lumens, and therefore produce less bright blacks, a screen like the white surface Carada, with about 1.3 gain, will let you tackle 150" diagonal screen sizes!
Still I favor going with the HC gray surfaces if possible, for the black level performance - unless you are buying primarily as a sports fan, and more interested in brilliant, vibrant action, than dark scenes in movies.
HD71 Projector Measurements and Calibration
Cinema With lamp at full power, default settings: 1463 lumens
Measured color temperature:
White (100 IRE): 5889K
Light gray (80 IRE): 5506K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 5324K
Low gray (30 IRE): 4954K
As you can see, color temp is way below the ideal 6500K
Post a quick grayscale calibration, resulted in the projector being in Cinema mode, with color temp set to Cold, degamma, on film (or automatic) and corresponding color accuracy for movie watching contrast at -6, 1040 lumens:
White (100 IRE): 6253K
Light gray (80 IRE): 6669K
Medium gray (50 IRE): 6831K
Low gray (30 IRE): 6411K
Green was pretty much dead on. The results were warm (redish) at the extremes and cooler in the mid brightness ranges. This a bit more range in settings than I can get with most projectors, but still produces very neutral color results.
The separate R,G,B settings used to get the color temp range above:
Gain: R -3, G -5, B -12,
Bias: R 0, G -1, B -1,
I did not create any additional setups for different uses, although the video setting on the Optoma menu, as expected has a different gamma than film, and is more suitable for TV/HDTV/Sports viewing.
I hope to get another chance to play with the settings when I return for travel, but I may not, as other projectors are waiting.
I do anticipate a review of the Optoma HD65 in May, and do plan a comparison article, between the two.
HD71 Image Noise
Not great, not bad. DLP projectorstend to show more image noise than 3LCD projectors, and the Optoma does have a little visible image noise when you have an almost still image on the screen. I've seen worse, and as it is fairly typical for DLP projectors, I don't think that the level of image noise seen here, will cost Optoma any sales. Motion artififacts were handled well, when checking with the Silicon Optix test disc.