Review: Optoma HD131Xe Projector

OPTOMA HD131XE SPECIAL FEATURES 2:  3D Capabilities, Audio

3D Performance - HD131Xe Projector

First things first, the HD131Xe, out of the box is 3D ready, but you won’t be able to run 3D until you have some 3D glasses.

And you have two ways to go.  Like most DLP projectors, the Optoma HD131Xe supports DLP-Link, which was the standard from TI, for doing 3D on DLP projectors.  But time brings change, and these days, the trend is to RF (radio frequency) glasses, that are lighter than the traditional DLP-Link glasses, typically brighter, and with slightly better contrast.

All you need to do, though to get started would be to buy a couple of pair of the DLP-link glasses.  They can be had from 3rd party suppliers from less than $30 a pair.  Those that are rechargeable tend to cost more than those using button type batteries.

That will get you into the 3D game.  Want to do better?  Then it’s time to go with the optional 3D emitter, and the new RF, and rechargeable glasses.

Here are the numbers for Optoma’s better solution for the HD131Xe:

3D Glasses:  BG-ZF2100GLS    RF, and Rechargeable:  $99 MSRP

3D Emitter:  BG-BC100B            3D RF Emitter:                 $49 MSRP

Sorry,  I can’t tell you for sure what lower cost 3rd party 3D glasses might work with the emitter, at this time, but there should be some.  If I find out, I will update.

Expect better performance overall, if you go with the RF glasses, and a more comfortable experience as well.

 

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So, how is the 3D on this projector?  Now that’s a question I’m not yet prepared to answer either, but I will provide some guidance.

Overall, I’m not a fan of DLP-Link solutions, every time I see an alternative, it’s typically brighter and better looking, but I haven’t viewed 3D with this projector.  (They didn’t send the glasses!)  The good news is that this week (it’s Dec. 18, 2013) Optoma is going to ship me the emitter and the new glasses, so there definitely will be an update.

I did, however, get to play with the emitter and the newer glasses when I reviewed the not too different HD25-LV projector this past summer.  The HD25-LV is roughly $500 more, but it’s mostly extra features, rather than brighter…

I found the 3D to be very good on the HD25-LV and would expect a repeat performance with the HD131Xe projector.  Optoma’s new solution seems to be crosstalk free (unless there’s cross-talk inherent in the content itself), which is about what we should expect with most single chip DLP projectors (the advantage of the speed of the DLP mirrors).   Overall, the 3D image was fairly bright, allowing for movie viewing easily at 100″ diagonal (the HD25-LV and this HD181-LV are very close in terms of brightness).

Pushing out to my maximum 124″ diagonal I found 3D just a bit too dim for my taste, for I am more like friends and family in this regard.  Enthusiasts will often suffer too dim a 3D solution, because they are really into other aspects of the projector.  But, with friends and family, I’ve found “I’d rather watch in 2D, this is too dark” to be a familiar cry.   I’m with them.  I want, no insist, that my 3D be adequately bright.   So, depending on how you feel about brightness, you should be happy (with a typical 1.3 gain screen) with screen sizes for 3D from a maximum of about 130″ diagonal, if you aren’t critical, to being pretty satisfied at 110″ diagonal or less.

Don’t forget, expect the RF glasses to give you a visibly brighter 3D image.

HD131Xe Projector: Audio

The HD131Xe has a 10 watt sound system built in.  Ok, no deep bass of course, but it will do a respectable job in a typical family room type setup.  It’s fine for your average TV, but, it’s just not going to blow you away on action flicks.

It’s a good thing to have some decent sound built in.  It makes it more practical for those backyard, family movie nights in the summer, or to take the HD131Xe with you on vacation.

And there’s another fringe benefit.  The HD131Xe is really a cross-over projector.  It’s got much of its design from portable business projectors.  In the business world or classroom having some decent sound is often a requirement for presentations.  Well, no problem, this projector sound wise does a lot better than most portable projectors, many of which only have a pair of one or two watt speakers.  The point being, the sound system also allows you to use the HD131Xe for non-home uses such as formal presentations.

One note.  The projector likes to put up the Muted speaker icon in the upper right corner when you set the volume control to 0.  If you are using a surround sound system, you would want to turn off the sound.  So, the trick, so you don’t have to stare at that speaker icon, is to go into the audio menu and turn Internal Speaker to off.  No more icon!

All considered, the sound is pretty respectable, for a built-in speaker.  Try to do better though.  Even the least expensive HTIB (home theater in a box) surround sound systems be they $99 or $199, are a dramatic improvement.  Those systems all have sub-woofers, so you can have some of that ” rock the house” bass.   Keep that in mind for a better home theater experience!

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