Optoma MovieTime DV10 - Image Quality
In once sense, Optoma's MovieTime DV10 projector is the equivilent of a stereo boom box, or an all-in-one home theater in a box sound system, and if you think of it that way, you wouldn't expect it to perform as well as "separate components". Now, while there is plenty of compromise in terms of audio, compared to dropping $500 or a grand, or more on a 5.1 surround sound system, the projector and image quality aspects of the MovieTime projector, rival the best of the lower cost home theater projectors out there, including Optoma's own highly regarded projectors.
Certainly, from a spec standpoint - 1000 lumens and a 4000:1 contrast ratio, you should expect great image quality, and the MovieTime DV10 projector won't dissapoint. In fact, in addition to watching the MovieTime perform on many DVD's including Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Fellowship of the Rings, Sin City (a great test of black levels and shadow detail), Men In Black II, The Italian Job, and Independence Day, I also watched live HDTV from cable, and Hi-Def off my D-VHS deck. In other words, I threw plenty of everything at it. I also quickly hooked it up to my laptop, however, the projector being WVGA resolution (854x480) its a bit low for viewing traditional XGA computer information 1024x768. As a result very small type was very difficult to read. However if you set your computer to lower resolution - say SVGA (800x600) the MovieTime's performance was acceptable for surfing the internet, etc.
But you want to hear about picture quality on DVD and HD, so lets start with DVD. There's something I really like about the quality of just about every Optoma home theater projector I have tested. The colors have excellent saturation and the MovieTime is no exception. The image above from The Italian Job, are vibrant, faithful, and realistic looking.
The MovieTime DV10 projector is also no slouch when it comes to natural looking fleshtones as seen on this shot of Gandalf from LOTR. A little more challenging is the image of Will Smith from Independence Day.
Optoma's MovieTime projector handles daylight scenes effortlessly, as you will observe on these two shots - the first also from the Italian Job, and the second one from Independence Day. The projector handles the colors very well, with natural looking grass, the bright reds and blues of the cars, and even the sunlit concrete in the background. On the image below, the photo I captured is a bit off on the blues, but it looked right on, when viewing the projector. (My digital camera does have some limitations!)
The real challenge for projectors, however is how well they handle "black levels". LCD, DLP (like the MovieTime), and D-ILA projectors, can't produce a true black. Their best attempt gives you extremely dark grays, when black is called for. Contrast is normally the spec that gives you a heads up on how well a projector will do. The Optoma's 4000:1 (using their "AI" circuitry to enhance contrast) is an extremely high spec, found on only a few projectors selling for less than $3000.
The MovieTime does a great job. I found it annoying that it even did a marginally better job on a few scenes than my own, higher resolution (and far more expensive) BenQ PE8700+.
This is the first projector I have tested since I recently acquired the DVD of Sin City, a movie done mostly in black and white, with just splashes of color added on some scenes. Here are images of two dark scenes from Sin City - but unfortunately my camera does not capture the full intensity that the Optoma projector was able to put on the screen.
Performance was also very good on Hi-Def. The shot below of the Chrysler building at dusk, comes out a bit darker, and with a bit less of the pinkish hues that the image calls for, but my reference for viewing this scene, is Marantz's $14,499 VP12S4 home theater projector. The fact that the Optoma projector is even in the game is impressive.
The MovieTime projector has 5 modes which will be discussed in the Menus section in the Performance - Other section. All the images photographed from DVD and Hi-Def were shot in Cinema mode. The Chrysler building image may have performed better had I selected the Image AI mode which is designed to enhance dark scenes, but appears a bit lest contrasty (a higher gamma) in the low to mid bright areas.
Overall, I found the MovieTime to do a sensational job, however, I did view Independence Day, and the Hi-Def content side by side with Optoma's new H27 projector which sells for $999. My impression is that the H27 did a slightly better job on images like the Chrysler building. In the comparison shot , the H27 projector is on the left, the MovieTime DV10, on the right. Again, a different setting should bring the two closer together. Another reason for the difference. The H27 appeared to be the brighter projector on all the sources I viewed as you can see in this image from Independence Day.
In summary, fleshtones are excellent (out of the box), shadow detail and black levels are very good, and images are generally bright and well saturated. I found that the MovieTime has enough "horsepower" to fill my 128" Firehawk screen, (which has a gain of 1.3), and that would indicate that the MovieTime DV10 should be able easily handle a standard matte white screen of 106" diagonal, and that's one nice large theater-like image from a small, entry level "all-in-one" projector.
Lets look at the other areas of performance, including layout of the control panel, menus, the projector's remote control and many other features.