Optoma HD23 Home Theater Projector Review

HD23 Menus

The Optoma HD23 uses the same look and menu structure that Optoma’s been using for years, so no surprises.  Overall, it’s a good menu navigation layout.  Pressing the Menu button moves you back up the menu chain, back to the main menu, then closes menus.  Let’s take a look at the main menus and a few of the more advanced ones.

If you must know more, download an HD23 user manual. Documentation is decent, not exceptional.  It touches on every feature, but often lacks explanation as to what different settings affect, and how to use them effectively.

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HD23 Menu Slideshow

Main Image menu

Color Temp menu

Color Temp menu, which appears at the bottom when selected. Note that the the preset modes (Cinema, etc.) when selected have a similar bottom of the page menu.

Image menu

The Advanced setting on the Image menu. Calibration is done in the Color settings (RGB Gain/Bias) sub-menu, shown immediately below.

Advanced sub-menu

The Gamma setting, from the same Advanced sub-menu

Display menu

he Optoma HD23 has some nice touches on the Display menu. They offer Overscan, but also Edge Masking, which I favor as the preferred solution if you have edge noise around your image. Also found here are the vertical digital image shift, and Superwide, which is mentioned on the first page.

Lamp Sub-menu

The lamp sub-menu on the System menu

Optoma HD23 Remote Control

The HD23 remote control is well designed in terms of layout.  In addition, it’s range seems very good, easily past 20 feet, which is better than some others.  The actual IR beam seems narrow, so it is a bit more critical than most to point it in the right direction – toward the IR sensor on the projector, directly, or with a bounce off your wall or screen.

As to the layout itself: Power On and Off have separate buttons on the top row.

Next come four aspect ratio buttons, in two rows, but the top of those two has a center button which let’s you change lamp brightness.

Two rows of three have: Brightness, (preset) Mode, Contrast, on the first of those two.  The second row has both Edge Masking, and the Overscan alternative.  The center button is a Source Lock. The HD23 can search through all the inputs automatically, looking for live ones, or with Source locked, it will stay on the one you set it for.

That brings us to the Navigation area. Four arrow keys in a roundish shape, with a center locate Enter button.  Menu is below to the left.

That leaves only the five bottom buttons which control sources.  There’s two HDMIs Computer (or a second component), Component video and standard composite video.  That’ all she’s got!

This remote control is extremely similar to past Optoma remotes. I have the same old complaint.  The Optoma remote is backlit with bright blue LED light.  It is almost blinding in a dark room.  Way too bright.  If I want to tweak colors I have to hold the remote where I can’t see the blue or I can’t see the finer points of the screen.

OK, it’s great going with blue LED lights for backlighting, but please, pick a dimmer LED bulb or cut down on it’s brightness another way. One third the brightness is probably more than bright enough.

All considered, a perfectly fine remote, other than being too bright. Button feel is reasonably good. Learn where the buttons are, and the LED light brightness can be dealt with. On the “bright side” when the room is fully darkened, the remote can double as a nice (blue) flashlight for reading Blu-ray disc boxes, finding your snacks, and hunting for that black Sony PS3 remote (that I can never find in the dark), etc. I guess there is a silver (blue?) lining to many issues.

Click Image to Enlarge

Optoma HD23 Lens Throw

The manual lens has a 1.2:1 zoom ratio – typical for most low cost DLP home theater projectors.

For a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 screen, the projector (measured from the front of the lens), can be placed as close as 10 feet 10.5 inches to 13 feet 1 inch.

This type of throw distance is also very typical for a DLP projector. This gives you just over 2 feet of placement flexibility for a screen of that size. Looking at a larger or smaller screen, you can calculate the distances easily from the numbers above. (A 10% larger screen – 110″ diagonal would have distances 10% greater for both closest and furthest away…)

Lens Shift

No lens shift for the Optoma HD23, so mounting or placing the properly is critical if you don’t want to have to use keystone correction (which does slightly degrade the picture.

This Optoma HD23 has less lens offset than many past Optoma projectors (and a number of other DLP models with no lens shift). That’s a good thing. For that same 100″ diagonal screen, the Optoma HD23, when ceiling mounted, needs to be placed (measured from the center of the lens) almost exactly 8 inches above the top of the screen surface – or if on a table, 8 inches below the bottom of the screen surface.

Most previous Optoma projectors had a lot more offset – typically more like 18 inches worth. This configuration on the HD23 allows more folks to own and properly place the HD23 in their rooms. Unlike those projectors with that extra offset, the HD23 should work in most rooms with 8 foot ceilings, with all but the largest screens.

Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen

Not surprising, no support for an anamorphic lens, which makes perfect sense.

It is incredibly unlikely that anyone would want to pair an anamorphic lens with a $999 home theater projector, or even a $1500 one, considering that an anamorphic lens typically is around $2000, and with a motorized sled, more like $3000 or more.

This is doubly true now that projectors with lens memory can be purchased, saving the need for considering an anamorphic lens.  (Both Lens Memory, and Anamorphic lenses have trade-offs.  You have more pixels in use with cinemascope movies (widesreen) with the anamorphic lens, but, you are giving up 1:1 pixel mapping which has to add some softness.

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