Optoma HD7100 Projector Review

Menus

With the HD7100, Optoma has introduced a new menu scheme, and in general I found it to be really easy to learn, and quick to use. The Picture Menu has the usual settings, however, I really like the way they set up the gamma and color temp controls, you can use the left and right arrow keys to raise or lower gamma or color temperature, without having to enter another layer of menu. You will note that the color control and Tint are grayed out, this is because I am using a digital signal (DVI/HDMI). The controls are active with the component inputs.

You’ll note, above the Picture Setting option (the first one on the right). In the picture I have it set for Custom2, which I had adjusted to 6500K and Gamma of 2.2. You can toggle this control between Normal, Custom1 and Custom2. In addition, they are device independent, so when I switched from DVD to my Hi-Def D-VHS deck it did not bring along the settings I had put in for DVD, and I was able to put in different settings the projector remembered for the D-VHS deck.

When saving the custom settings (let’s say Custom1), which you can do from the Picture Setting button on the remote, it will also store your choice of lamp brightness, White balance, sharpness, etc. Of course if you then go to another source, you can put in different settings, and save those. The projector will recognize the device.

What I didn’t test for, was how smart the projector was. I normally run my DVD player through the Digital I/O of my Marantz receiver. I would have been curious if the projector would recognize my DVD player as the same device, if I bypassed the receiver. It certainly can tell the difference between my DVD player and cable box through the receiver, but then, those are inherently different resolutions as well.

What is really interesting – and missing – is that there are two additional settings, that are unavailable on the Picture Settings menu. They only show up (so far) when you select the Picture Setting button on the remote.

When you do, it not only brings up Normal, Custom1 and Custom2, but three additional, and very interesting menu choices:

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Menus SlideShow

Menu

Picture

ISF Day, ISF Night and Save settings

The Save settings button allows you to save settings for at least Custom1 and Custom2. More intriguing, is the ISF Day and Night options. My understanding is that there is a push to have two sets of settings reserved for those calibrating the projectors. ISF is an organization of professional calibrators (and then some). A pro calibrator, like some hard core hobbiests, will normally go into the service menu (which with most manufacturers voids warranty if not done by a professional). There they have maximum control of all the potential settings of the projector, and will use them to calibrate the most perfect image quality. I presume that once set, that ISF Day and Night may appear in the Picture menu.

More perplexing is how the ISF Day and Night are set out of the box. The HD7100 projector I received definitely appeared to be brand new when I received it. New packaging, no fingprints, etc. It does not look like a projector that has been pretested and adjusted before going out to a reviewer. Interestingly ISF Day and Night perform differently from each other, indicating that they have different defaults, etc.

The important part of all this, lies in that the default ISF Night setting seems to be the same as the default Normal – except that color temperature is set to 6500K not 8000K. I didn’t measure to see if there were other differences, so for now, for watching your movies on DVD, either use Normal (or save as Custom1 or 2) but change the temperature to 6500K which is extremely accurate) Alternately you can use the ISF night setting. The ISF Day setting, I’m guessing is the same as Normal – with an 8000K temp more suitable for HDTV.

Without getting into a real calibration, for movie watching I recommend using the ISF Night, or, if selecting Normal, or Custom 1, or 2, adjust temperature to 6500K (and gamma should be at 2.2). Save the Custom setting if you want!

I suspect that with a service level calibration as an ISF calibrator would do, they probably have the option to add ISF Day, and ISF Night to the choice of options in the main Picture menu, so they can be selected there as well as off the remote.

Back to the Menus in general!

Off of the Picture menu, you can select white balance, which will bring up the menu on the right, allowing you to adjust RGB gain and Offset.

Gamma offers a wide choice of settings from an unwieldly 1.0, and more useful 1.5, 1.8, 2.0, standard 2.2, and 2.35, 2.5 and 2.8. If you are using a large screen, and are a little “thin” on lumens, you might find that 2.0 overall “brightens” the image a little. In general, thoug 2.2 is the way to go.

The Layout Menu (off the main menu, allows selection of aspect ratio and Keystone correction (best ot avoid keystone controls).

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ISF Day, ISF Night and Save settings Slideshow

Settings

White Balance RGB

Settings

Layout

Settings

Options

That takes us to the Options menu, which let’s you set lamp brightness a white peaking control (which I did not get a chance to work with).  In addition, there are a number of ergonomic choices such as setting the projector for normal, ceiling mount or rear screen, deciding whether the On Screen Display (menus) should be clear or solid. (In all pictures shown I have it solid, as it’s hard to read the non-selected menu items when set to clear. Once you know your projector and the menu layout, most will set to clear (On), so that the large menus have little impact on the entire picture. Status will give you key settings, including lamp hours.

As I said at the beginning, I really like the layout and functionality of this new menu structure from Optoma.

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