Optoma HD7100 Projector Review

The Optoma HD7100 is a great projector for the money

It’s not perfect, but most of its minor flaws relate to some of the limits of DLP projector ergonomics. Other issues are less performance related that concious decisions in what needs to go into this projector without running up the cost.

The HD7100‘s strenghs are many, but overall, it brings excellent, Darkchip3 powered home theater performance into your home for under $3500. That’s a thousand or more dollars less, than any other Darkchip3 (except for the closeout of its predecessor, the H78DC3). The HD7100 sits at a price point well above the mainstay 720p projectors, but certainly offers the extra peformance to justify the price.

What do you get? Color handling is very good. Out of the box, using the ISF Night setting, or just setting Normal to 6500Kit provides as accurate a color as any projector I have reviewed. Black levels and shadow detail are Darkchip3 caliber, no dynamic iris or lens dimming needed to improve darks on dark scenes, the HD7100 does a great job. And the balance between darks and lights – gamma is fully controllable by you, accessable from the Picture menu, or a button on the remote.

The HD7100 has a richness about its colors, especially in dark areas, that seems to be an Optoma tradition. I always noticed that with their earlier home theater projectors. It isn’t really adding depth, so the best word I have is richness, and its natural looking. In this regard it has an edge over my BenQ PE8720.

Brightness is also very respectable. with the projector able to do a very nice job on my overly large, 128″ diagonal Firehawk screen (light gray, high contrast).

It’s not perfect though. I’d still like to see a zoom with more range, and definitely more range in the vertical lens shift, but those issues only relate to placement, not performance. Also the save settings options could be expanded upon, but since they are device dependent, they still provide plenty of flexibility. The manual is respectable, but not great.

Without doubt, my most severe criticism is that the HD7100 should be a little quieter. I don’t believe its going to be a problem for many, but those who really want an essentially silent projector won’t be happy.

Then, of course, there is that truly excellent image it projects!

On that note, in speaking with Optoma about that very issue – compatibility, they, like all projector manufacturers, are looking for any possible compatibility problems. (Even if the fault is Toshiba’s). I was reassured by two people at Optoma, that, if there is a need for new firmware, etc., that Optoma will take care of all existing owners of the HD7100, (most likely by swapping out the projectors, or maybe by providing a downloadable upgrade?) Considering few of us need rush into an HD-DVD player – as there are about 10 movie titles shipping at this time, I’ll trust to Optoma to quickly take care of its customers if there are issues over the short term.

Before we look at the Pros and Cons summary, I want to mention one more thing. I have not yet been able to buy an HD-DVD player. It has been reported that many projectors are having trouble interfacing with the Toshiba HD-AI player, the only such player shipping right now. The problem seems to more prevelant with projectors with DVI inputs rather than HDMI (yes, they are all HDCP compatible). As a result, I have not been able to test the HD7100 with the Toshiba, but hope to find a Toshiba in the next few days. I will update this review once I have tried the combination.

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