Optoma HD71 Home Theater Projector Review

HD71 Projector: Skin Tones

If you can’t get skin tones to look natural, you’ve got a problem. The Optoma HD71, like most home theater projectors, does a decent, but not great job on skin tones, when you first fire up the projector, in its cinema mode. A basic calibration really improves performance in this area. In the General Performance section we discuss the settings we came up with after doing a basic gray scale color temperature adjustment.

you’ll find a few images from movies, that are good for considering skin tone quality. The first two are from SD-DVD – Lord of the Rings, the rest in this section are from HD resolution Blu-ray discs.

When all that was done, the HD71 provided very good skin tones. I found that unless you reduce the color saturation slightly, the image tends to be a touch oversaturated. Unlike many projectors though, when oversaturated, the HD71 was more watchable than most.

Here’s a common sequence I use in reviews, which is Jame Bond, from Casino Royale, under different lighting situations. The first – bright, direct, sunlight, the second, florescent lighting at an airport, and the third, filtered sunlight.

Of course, you’ll want some over saturation if you have significant ambient light to deal with. Overall, I was most pleased with skin tone performance after basic adjustment.

HD71 Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail

Optoma HD71 Black Levels

The HD71 claims 3000:1 contrast without AI engaged, and 4000:1 with AI being used. For almost all of my watching of the HD71, the AI was engaged (which also means the fan is on high).

I’m currently jaded by the 1080p projectors, where 8000:1 and 10,000:1 is common, and 15,000:1 or more is found on several projectors. As a result I wasn’t expecting very impressive black level performance. Futher, because the HD71 projector is so bright, I anticipated blacks coming out not exceptionally dark gray.

Viewing typical space scenes, produced a good feel of black, but not the inky blacks that would be hoped for.

I was pleasantly surprised, while black levels aren’t spectacular, by any means, the overall product performed very well, in this regard.

Of course a key thing about the HD71 is its brightness, and its ability to work in rooms that are far from 100% free of ambient light, Family rooms come to mind, or even “cave-like” dark rooms dedicated for theater when an exceptionally large screen is going to be used.

But, by the same token, the HD71 is significantly brighter, in Cinema mode, than any of the other 720p projector competition, so not only are the blacks – “brighter” (gray), but so is everything else.

Considering blacks and brightness combined, we end up with a projector that has comparable black level performance to most other 720p projectors. In other words, put the HD71 on, say a 130″ screen, and a typical 720p projector on a 92″ or maybe a 100″ screen and the blacks probably look about the same, as will the brighter areas. So, you get similar performance but can use screens 40% – 60+% brighter than most other projectors. Keep in mind, I’m talking movie watching here. The HD71 is exceptionally bright in Cinema mode, but a couple of LCD projectors rival it or beat it in “brightest mode”. The point is, brightest modes are usually used for TV and sports viewing, where black level performance is not considered very important.

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