Optoma HD20 Projector Review

Optoma HD20 Physical Appearance

The Optoma HD20 projector is one of the smallest home theater projectors out there. It’s finished in a shiny white with some silver trim. While mostly rectangular looking, it does have some style – with sloping grill, soft corners, and a bit of flair. As always, it’s what comes out of the lens that really counts, but, hey, this Optoma HD20 is cute when the lights are on and the is projector off. (That may help with the “wife factor”, if you are putting it in a family room.)

HD20 Projector - Control Panel

The control panel is on top towards the back. Inputs are all on the back, and venting comes in on the sides and exits, off angle (away from the lens, out the front).

From the left: Source and Menu buttons, then the navigation area with four arrow keys in a circle, and the Enter button in the center. On the right is the power switch (one for on, two for off).

Optoma HD20 Inputs and Outputs

Actually, the HD20 is pretty well equipped. While it doesn’t have an S-video input, which may make some gamers unhappy, it will work with all game machines since they all have standard composite video. Higher end game machines have HDMI outputs as well, which the HD20 has.

There are two HDMI inputs, which is pretty standard these days. I often comment that providing three would be better, but few, even far more expensive, home theater projectors have that extra one.

There’s a standard analog computer input (HD15 connector – same as on a standard computer monitor), which can handle a computer or be used as a second component video input. There is also one dedicated component video input, with the usual three color coded (R,G,B) RCA jacks. There is a small connector serving as a service port. Finally, there’s a 12 volt screen trigger, which could be used for a motorized screen or other purposes.

To put things in perspective, the recently reviewed, new Samsung SP-A600, by comparison, has the same inputs plus the S-video, and it has a full serial RS-232 port, but it lacks the 12 volt screen trigger.

Optoma HD20 Menus

Not much new to report as, as the menu structure is essentially the same as other Optoma’s reviewed in the last couple of years. Shown to the right is the image menu.

There are five modes including Cinema, Bright, Photo, Reference and User.

You can scroll through them but there’s a couple seconds lag each time, and no way to directly go from one to another, if not adjacent. I would have liked to be able to switch back and forth between Cinema and our User settings.

The Advanced menu off of the main Image menu has gamma, basic color temp controls (warm, cool…), and a sub-menu for doing the separate RGB adjustments.

Interestingly, the individual Gamma controls provide some user control, which many projectors lack. Thing is, the film gamma looked and measured very well, so I never played with the controls.

The other major menu worth a quick look is the Display menu. Notice that it has both Overscan and Edge Mask. For those of you not familiar with the difference, I’ll take a moment to discuss. It is not unusual (unfortunately) to get noise or a color bar off of some satellite/cable stations. The traditional way to solve that is overscan, which will not show you the entire screen – eliminating the outermost data. It then expands (interpolates) the remainder – say 97% of the image, to fill the entire screen. Problem solved.

There is a drawback though, if you are watching 1080 source material in 1080 resolution, you have to give up 1:1 pixel masking. The interpolation will add a slight amount of softness.

HD20 menu image

User

HD20 menu image advanced

RGB Gain/Bias

HD20 menu system

Projection

Edge masking addresses the same issue a different way. It essentially just “turns off” that outer 3% – black. That maintains the 1:1 pixel ratio, but the image is a little bit smaller, so won’t quite fill your screen.

I prefer the 1:1 and use edge masking when needed. The Optoma offers control of the amount of overscan or edge masking – another nice touch.

Of note, the System menu has the lamp controls, Image AI (which I don’t care for – more elsewhere), the 12 volt trigger control, projector positioning (Projection) for front/rear/ceiling/floor.

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