Optoma HD23 Home Theater Projector Review
Ok, this is a pretty entry level projector. No 3D, no CFI “smooth motion”, no dynamic detail enhancement, etc. etc. etc., so we don’t have a whole lot of special features. So, we’ll cover some basics. But first one interesting Optoma feature called Superwide.
Superwide is Optoma’s name for their image “cropping” concept. We all know how much letterbox you get at the top and bottom when watching a typical “Cinemascope” 2.35:1 aspect ratio movie on standard HDTV devices (16:9 = 1.78:1).
This Optoma offers a compromise not too different than found on many LCDTVs, but somewhat rare on home projectors. With that movie, the Optoma will zoom in, enough to eliminate about half of the letter boxing. In exchange though, it does crop off just a very small amount on the left or right. This is generally a better idea than fully zooming so there’s no letterbox, which results in a lot more cropping of the sides of the image. This works automatically if you are set for Auto.
Borrowed images from Optoma, show how Superwide works:
Above – a 2.35:1 image displayed on 16:9 screen.
Below I’ve added a red line (sorry, not quite straight) to indicate a partial zoom.
Finished image below! The letter box is noticeably smaller, but only a small amount has been cropped from the left and right sides. An interesting compromise! I like having the option, as will a lot of you, especially those that are used to having your LCDTVs doing some similar compensation. This will not distort the shape of objects though, like what most LCDTV stretch features offer. (I’m tired of oval shaped basketballs – you won’t have that problem here, nor one of basketball players looking like dwarves from Lord of the Rings! (really wide)
Gaming with the Optoma HD23
This projector has fast lag times as is typical of most DLP projectors. One of our hard core gamer / bloggers, will get to work with the HD23, and will report back in his blog, with a review of his gaming experiences with this projector.
HD23 Lamp Life
Optoma claims 3000 hours at full power (Bright lamp), and 4000 hours in “eco-mode” (Standard). That’s better than average, as there are still a number of projectors claiming 2000/3000 hours. That said, 4000/4000 and 4000/5000 hour projectors are out there. I’ve even seen one conventional lamp rated 6000 hours in eco-mode.
All considered, the HD23 has good lamp life and a reasonable lamp clost of $249 list. I figure Best Buy will sell the lamp for list, but since the same lamp seems to be in other Optoma projectors, when the time comes, there might be a better deal on a replacement lamp, online.
1.2:1 Zoom Lens
The HD23 is still pretty entry level in 2D, and in design. A 1.2:1 zoom lens is typical of low cost DLP projectors. The lens is manual focus and zoom. More on placement, lens offset, on the Physical Tour page. Let’s just say the HD23 produces a rather sharp image for a low cost projector. If you focus it at the dead center, though, it will be a little soft in the corners. Ideally, try to get the best focus about 1/3 of the way from the center to the left or right edges. That should get you an image that seems very sharp throughout.
Optoma’s ImageAI dynamically dims the image, for better black level performance. I find that in operation it too often, at the change of a scene, tends to do a visible snap, which when it happens is usually after a significant shift in brightness from one screen to another. I find it annoying, and don’t personally consider the trade-off worthwhile. I’ve left it off for almost all viewing. On or off, the black level performance is entry level, that’s not why you are buying this projector.
Make the call yourself. If it doesn’t bother you, leave it on.
OK, how about a quick tour of the projector? We’ll also check out the remote control, and most of the menus. After that, it will be time to discuss how good the picture quality is. Proceed!
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