Review: Optoma HD131Xe Projector

OPTOMA HD131Xe HARDWARE

Optoma HD131Xe Appearance and Layout

As always, we start from the front.   The HD131Xe projector comes in a shiny black finish.  If you are facing the front of this home theater projector you’ll find the lens is offset to the right side.  To focus turn the barrel of the 1.2:1 zoom, manual zoom lens.  A 1.2:1 is a minimal amount of zoom range, however, that’s very typical in the sub-$1000 range.  When you start spending over $2000, then about 1.5:1 or 1.6:1 range becomes common, with many projectors offering a full 2:1, or slightly more.

The case itself is nicely sculpted.  It’s not stunning, but it sure beats looking at a rectangular box with hard edges.

Also to be found on the front is an IR sensor for the backlit remote control, and aa single centered, screw thread adjustable front foot.  (OK, it’s on the bottom, but easy to see from the front!)

The control panel, for power, source selection and navigating the menus is located on the top, towards the back and is further discussed below.

All of the inputs are located in the back, also covered below.

Other than that, The holes for a ceiling mount will be found on the bottom.

The lamp door, that you’ll need every few years, to replace lamps as they age, is located on the bottom.   Generally, that means that if you are ceiling mounting, you may find that many universal mounts will not allow you to open the lamp door, while the projector is ceiling mounted.   That’s a pain, however, I suspect that many – no most, of these projectors will not end up ceiling mounted, but sit on a table, where that becomes a non-issue.  Most more expensive projectors have moved the lamp door to the top, or a few cases, the side.

Click Image to Enlarge

Zoom Control And The Control Panel

Other than the control panel, the only things you’ll find on the top of the HD131Xe projector is a large Optoma logo, and the far more important (than the logo), zoom control, which is a large wide ring, near the front, straight back from the lens barrel.  Like the lens focus, it has a pretty good feel to it.  I can think of some competing projectors that are real “clunkers” by comparison, when it comes to the zoom and focus rings.

The control panel is straight forward.  Let’s look at the controls, starting at the left side:

First is the HELP button.  It’s pretty basic, brings up three items, relating to using keystone correction to get a rectangular image, adjusting the volume, etc.  In each case, you can go directly to the control in question from the help menu, but they could be offering up a lot more help, and a lot more direct access to the features.  Still what little is there is interactive.  Some other companies, have had more extensive Help controls that are interactive.  Epson, for example, has had interactive help on most projectors for the last decade or so.

Sharing the same button bar is the Menu, which, as expected, opens the main menu up.  The four arrows for navigation are located to it’s right, and are in a round formation.  In the center of them is the Enter button.

Each of the navigation arrows are used for navigating through the menus, but when the menus are closed they each have their own function.  Up and Down arrows double to control keystone correction.   What’s interesting is the inconsistency between the control panel and the remote control.  The same two up and down arrows, on the HD131Xe’s remote control, control the volume.

Left and right arrows, on the other hand, are the same on both remote and control panel.  The left one brings up the source menu.  The right one is Re-sync, which relates to using analog computer sources, for optimizing the image.

Further to the right, is the usual Power button (long and skinny).  Power is the usual press once for on, twice for off.    Just further to the back of the projector from the power button are the usual three indicator lamps for Power, Temperature, and Lamp.

Although hard to spot, there’s also a second IR sensor for the remote control very close to the navigation ring.

HD131Xe Projector User Guide

I make a point to take a decent look at every user manual when reviewing.  The HD131Xe, like many, pretty much covers all the features and controls, and (a bit sadly), like most, does come up a bit thin on explanations.

Optoma will tell you how the various controls work, and other info, but, they aren’t near  as good at telling you the why you would want to use this, or what settings might be best for a particular type of viewing, or which controls you might want to turn that off, for one reason or another.

Overall, minor translation issues notwithstanding, this is a reasonably good manual, but it could definitely educate the owner a bit more regarding a number of the features and adjustments.  I’d give the manual a “Not bad”.  If it were grades, probably a B, B- at worst.

On the next page we’ll take a look at the Optoma’s remote control, and the menus themselves.

As is the case with many user manuals today, Optoma only provides theirs on disk.  Personally, I prefer to also have a printed manual, but especially on lower cost projectors like this Optoma, little things like printed manuals add to the cost.

And without a print version, we get to save a few trees!  That’s a good thing.

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Visual Apex 
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