Optoma MovieTime DV10 - General Performance
Since this is an self contained home theater projector system (just add electricity and a wall or screen), and has built in speakers, I think Speakers are a good place to start.
Rocking the House? - The Sound System
Optoma's MovieTime DV10 projector has two built-in 5 watt speakers facing primarily to the sides, but also slightly to the rear. That makes sense as the projector sits fairly close to the screen. The first time I hooked up the MovieTime DV10 projector, it was in a large demo room. about 16x30. The sound was thin, and lacking in bass.
I was pleasantly surprised, however when I brought it home and placed it in my home theater room, still a fairly large room - 12x21, with a cathedral ceiling going up to 21 feet at the peak. This time I found the MovieTime projector to do a pretty acceptable job. Although I had to set the volumen near the top setting it provided a good amount of volume, enough for all but those that really want to rock the house.
Optoma offers an optional $199 subwoofer from D&K. In the large demo room it certainly helped, but that room was so large that I didn't think the Optoma projector had enough volume to do a "loud" movie justice. The sub-woofer certainly added umph, but I still found it slightly lacking.
But, in my theater, the combination of the projector and the sub-woofer really did provide an acceptable audio solution. It won't replace a true 5.1 (or higher) surround sound system costing $600 - $1000, but it's got Game! I suspect that the vast majority of people who buy both the projector and subwoofer, will find the overall sound quality and volume to work for them. I watched part of The Italian Job, first without the sub-woofer, and found it performed acceptably, and when I added the sub-woofer, I was actually impressed. (I am an audiophile of sorts and have many thousands invested in the sound in my theater). Optoma's solution won't win awards for audiophile performance, but it does the job well with movies.
Caution, if you are an audiophile, or simply spend a lot of time watching Music videos and are real pickly, you will want a true surround sound system (or a killer stereo one), that costs far more than what Optoma provides in it's box. Certainly a $300 A/V receiver and $700 worth of speakers would blow the MovieTime DV10 projector's sound performance away. But a thousand spent on sound, would only leave a few hundred for a projector and DVD player, and that solution just doesn't exist.
So for sound, we'll say - good, for what it is, and if you have a smaller room - say 10 x 13 with a normal height ceiling - and opt for the sub-woofer too, you will be able to "rock the house".
It sets up in your room, in just seconds. OK, it doesn't run on batteries, and we probably couldn't afford the batteries if it did. The system draws almost 300 watts, compared to a dozen or two for a boom box.
For setting up in a room just when you want to use it, and stuff it in a closet, though, its a great home theater system. Tomorrow your kids can use it in a bedroom or a different room. Put it in its soft, padded shoulder case, and you can take it on vacation, to a friends, or even run an extension card and show movies in the back yard (or on the outside of your garage door if it's white).
This should appeal to a great many families, as a practical alternative to permanently ceiling mounting or shelf mounting a projector. Since the quality is excellent considering its price, you will have to figure out whether the MovieTime is best for you, or a traditional projector, plus separate DVD player and sound system.
Positioning the Projector
This Optoma projector has a huge amount of fixed lens shift. In fact, so much (I've never seen anything close), that you pretty much have to place the projector on the floor, or on a very low table (let's say under 16 inches) to have the image fit a screen mounted at a normal to high location.
If you have an 8 foot ceiling and place the projector on a typical 30" high table, you'll probably have some of the image on the ceiling, not exactly desireable.
I don't see this as a problem, in fact, it makes sense. You can probably always find some floor space for it and if needed prop it up an extra 8-10 inches or so, if needed.
There is a penalty, due to the drastic lens shift. The image is not straight all the way across the top. It bows slightly. That is, the image is slightly higher on the left and right corners and gently curves down toward the top center. The actually bowing is about 2 inches on a 100" diagonal screen, so the border of the screen should hide this defect. Once you are watching a movie or TV, if your screen has a border, and you set it up right, most probably will not notice. For those of you who are videophile purists, you will be happier with a more expensive projector anyway, or a stand alone projector, like Optoma's roughly $1000 H27 projector, mentioned in the Image Quality section.
I found no problems with the built in DVD player. It seemed to perform every bit as well as the two DVD players I use, a Sanyo and a Bravo D2 (with DVI interface). The DVD player outputs digital to the rest of the MovieTime, which is ideal, in terms of one-for-one pixel matching, which you normally don't get with a typical DVD player (only a few have digital outputs). So the DVD player, overall, is a real plus. The DVD player also handles a wide range of music and image formats besides DVD and Audio CD, here's the list: MP3, WMA, JPEG, VCD, DVD, DVD-R,DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, Audio CD, CD-R, CD-RW. That should keep you happy.
Projector Lamp Life
The MovieTime offers typical lamp life. 2000 hours is the rating for full power, or you can switch the projector into Economy mode, where the image is a little dimmer, but lamp life is 3000 hours. For those with screens smaller than 100" diagonal, you should find the MovieTime DV10 projector to be plenty bright in Economy mode. In fact, if you end up with Optoma's 92" Grayfox screen, which they are currently (9/05) offering for free, and which has a very high gain of 1.8, the only time you would want full power is if you have a significant amount of light on in the room. (Football fans, rejoice!
Projector Brightness and Practical Screen Size
I already mentioned this in the Image Quality section. But, there's more. At full power, and lights off, the MovieTime had the "horsepower" to fill my 128" screen which as a gain of 1.3. In other words, the MovieTime has plenty of brightness, that rivals most home theater projectors, including those costing several times as much. On smaller screens - 80 inch to 92" diagonal, you really can handle some lights on, especially on TV (movies are always tougher - as they tend to have some really dark scenes, that will wash out with any home theater projector, if there's even modest room lighting hitting the screen. The 92 inch Grayfox, makes a great screen choice for both movies or HDTV, especially sports. (Brightness rolls off rapidly to the sides with this screen, but it also rejects much of the lighting hitting it from the side.
Projector Fan Noise
I found the MovieTime to be noisier than expected. The specs say that the projector noise levels are 28 db in full power and 27 in low (economy) mode. I'll accept the low power spec, but believe they are very optimistic at full power. From a practical standpoint, the projector was very audible when powered up in full power, before you start watching. Still, I didn't notice it at all, except on extremely quiet scenes, in full power mode, and that with the projector sitting just about 3 feet from my ears.
Again, this is an all-in-one solution, and I think even in full power mode, more than acceptable. In low power, which many users will find perfect for movies, no problem at all. And, if you are watching football (I'm just thrilled that football season is back - go Penn State), or other sports, you won't care at all.
Calibrating The Projector
Out of the box, image quality is very good. With 6 modes to choose from (one is user savable settings), its not hard to find the right setting for what you are watching. Still, I always recommend getting a good calibration disk like the Avia Disk, to fine tune color and contrast. If that's not your thing (it's requires about an hour of your life), you still will find the performance excellent. I did find that with calibration, several of the test images (the Chrysler Building at dusk) improved, and I was able to see more stars in those great night sky scenes from Star Wars, and Independence Day (there were plenty of stars without calibration).
Optoma MovieTime DV10 Menus
Well Done. They are nicely laid out, and easy to understand. Most notable are those 6 pre-defined image modes on the Image 1 menu: Cinema, sRGB, Vivid (hit that one for those sports with some lights on), ImageAI (good for movies, but better for regular HDTV I thought), Game (that cranks out the colors, but is not particularly natural - not suitable for movies and good flesh tones in general, and lastly the User Savable setting. The Image 1 menu also has the usual Projector Brightness, Contrast, Color (saturation), Tint, and Sharpness settings.
The DV10's Image 2 Menu offers some of the more sophisticated controls, including the White Peaking (controls the tendency of near whites to end up "blown out" and appearing full white - thus reducing detail). The Degamma control lets you lighten up the middle brightness values, without affecting the extremely dark and extremely light areas.
The True Vivid setting gives you independend control of both brightness and contrast, each separate for Red, Green and Blue. The toggle for Image AI is also there, along with the Reset control. You will note that the default settings for these will vary depending on which Image mode you select (Cinema, Vivid, ImageAI, etc.)
There is (not shown) a lamp settings menu, which tracks your lamp usage and allows you to reset, and also to switch the projector into Economy mode, which dims the lamp and extends lamp life.
The last menu shown (there are two others) is the Display Menu, which let's you change the aspect ratio, digital zoom, keystone correction, and other general display items.
Of particular note is the Image Shift feature (also found on Optoma's H27 projector). This is a very nice feature that, when watching DVD's, can be very handy, in terms of placing the projector, and screen location. Since with any 16:9 home theater projector, you fill the screen with HDTV, but the vast majority of DVD's still give you a letter box (black area) at the top and bottom of the screen, since the movie shape is wider than HDTV - 2.35:1 instead of 1.78:1 (1.78 is screen width divided by screen height 16 divided by 9). With Image Shift, you can move the used portion of the DVD, up or down, instead of the black bars at top and bottom, you could move the image down even with the bottom of the screen (or up with the top of the screen). I like this feature. And have used it previously to watch movies when I evaluated the Optoma H27. (I should have shown some images showing its use to make its operation more obvious, but didn't think of it when shooting, my apologies.)
And that takes us to:
The Optoma MovieTime DV10 Home Cinema Projector's Remote Control
For a change, I'm going to go into a bit less detail - only because there are so many features, due to the all-in-one aspect of this projector.
The MovieTime's remote control is NOT backlit, and that's a shame.
On the bright side, however, the layout is so well done, that by the time I had been using it for two days, I was able to find almost every feature of interest, on the remote control, without even looking at it. The layout is logical, and the button shapes are different separating types of features. I have a remote for my Marantz THX receiver, and after a year of using it, I still have to turn on its backlite to figure out where some things are, and it has about the same number of buttons!
OK, from the top. A nice big power button, in the center. Use it once and you know where it is. Press once for on, twice for off! Immediately below, four wide buttons, Format (aspect ratio) and Source (toggle between DVD, computer/cable/satellite, S-video, etc.), are also obvious. Right below that is the Menu button (right) and the Enter button for the Menus, on the left.
Now Optoma chooses to have four buttons with large arrows on them for controlling the menus. It didn't take long to memorize the fact that the two on the left were down and up, and the two on the right, left and right.
Below that, the the main cursor control (four arrows) and center Enter button.
Back to round buttons for Setup and for the DVD's menu (use those cursor controls above). Keystone and Volume are verticals, with Display, Subtitle and Auto sync in between.
The rest of the buttons including a numeric pad, are primarily for the DVD player, and you'll find about everything you could need. two rows of round buttons below the keypad, have all your standard mechanical controls for the DVD - play/pause, fast foward, chapter skip, stop, etc. And lastly, slow motion, goto (jump to a track - and remember that could be CD or DVD), repeat, and return.
Again, I can't say enough about how quickly I was able to fully control the system in the dark. Really Well done. Lacking the light is still a negative (Occasional users might get frustrated without it, but overall, its a good remote.
It sure doesn't look like anything else out there. It looks more like a spacey boom box. Done mostly in white, with black accents, and lots of curves and angles, it is not surprising that it has already picked up a couple of awards for innovation, including at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. Like the experience in general, the MovieTime's looks are fun!
The MovieTime feels much like a nice boom box, in terms of construction. There's a lot in it for its 7.8 pounds and that means lots of lightweight plastic. My one complaint is around the lens. The small zoom lever for the lens, and its assembly, are apparently not well designed. If you adjust the zoom, the lens goes out of focus. Of course, once you set up the projector it takes only a second or two to adjust the zoom and refocus, but it is a minor nuisance, and I would hope Optoma will improve this while the product is still manufactured. It's more a case of it just feeling cheap than any lost performance.
I touched on this earlier. The front foot has lots of adjustment range, and is controlled by a bar on the bottom front. Only one of the two rear feet is adjustable, and this I found to be unfortunate. If you are placing the MovieTime DV10 projector on a table more than a foot or so off the floor, you may have to put something under the two rear feet. I think Optoma
All-in-One Projectors - Comments
To my knowledge, there are only 3 units so far. In addition to the Optoma MovieTime DV10, which I saw (a prototype) for the first time at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) back in Jan '05, there is also one from HP, (also shown there) and Radio Shack. Now first of all, I have never seen the Radio Shack projector, nor know anything about it, except that there is a rumor (take that for what its worth), that it hasn't been selling well.
The HP, however, I have seen briefly. There are a number of differences between the HP and the Optoma MovieTime. Two are of significant differences. First, the HP has a small subwoofer built in (or at least their prototype at CES did). A great idea, but to be built in, it really has to be pretty small, and whether it can do a serious job would be questionable.
The other major difference is that HP chose to go with the old 4:3 aspect ratio, of standard TV and Video tapes, instead of 16:9 favored by DVD and HDTV. This, I see as a major design flaw in a projector that has a DVD player built in. On traditional DVD's (2.35:1 movie ratio), that means that about 50% of the screen is black - 25% each letter boxed at the top and bottom, instead of 10% at top and bottom for a 16:9 projector like the MovieTime. The bottom line, the HP is inherently a dinasour - out of the box, unless your primary use is projecting games, and regular TV. There's a reason why when you walk into a Best Buy, all the plasmas, and virtually all LCDTV's and big screen TV's are 16:9. It's the future, and I can't see buying something that is inherently almost obsolete.
That said, I can't imagine what other advantages the HP could have to make it a viable alternative.
Of course you won't need a cable to hook it up to a DVD player, since one is built in. If you opt for their optional Sub-woofer, you'll have the cable you need for that, as well.
You will, most likely, want to also be able to watch TV and maybe a VCR with the MovieTime. The MovieTime does come with a composite video and stereo audio cables, to connect to the VCR, or you could use them with your cable or satellite box (but you don't want to, believe me.). With cable or satellite box, you will want to take advantage of the component video output (separate Red, Green and Blue cables), for the highest quality picture. For this you will need a component video cable. Remember you are likely to need a 10 foot or longer component cable to stretch from the Movietime to the cable/satellite box. The cable you need will have 3 RCA jacks on each end. The MovieTime DV10 projector, does not have an input for those three, but instead provides a small adapter. Plug the three RCA's into the adapter, which fits into the computer input on the projector.
You don't have to do it that way, you could instead order a cable with the 3 RCA's on one end, and an HD15 (computer) connector on the other. In that case, you don't need the adapter. Most Optoma MovieTime dealers will be able to provide the regular component cable in most lengths. Finding the 3 RCA to computer cable may be a bit tougher, so why bother.
Depending on where you are placing the MovieTime, you might also need a three prong extension cord. And it never hurts to use a power strip to protect against power surges.
Have a big sound sound system already, and want to play the DVD's sound through it? You can run a (digital) optical cable from the MovieTime projector to your surround sound system (if its old, make sure it has optical input). Again, figure out how much cable length you need. The Optical cable will move full 5.1 surround sound to your home theater audio system.
OK, time to review the warranty, and then summarize the review for you.