Optoma HD91 Home Theater Projector Review

The HD91 is the first reasonably serious, LED light source projector for the dedicated home theater or cave.  It absolutely needs to be calibrated, but after that, the picture is pretty impressive.

 

Optoma HD91 Projector Overview

I’ve been looking forward to reviewing the HD91 since announced. Unfortunately I had to wait for another sites reviewer to finish his review, and then ship it to us.

The HD91 is an DLP projector with a solid state LED light engine. Unlike most led projectors, which are those “pocket” or pico projectors, the HD91 is a true home theater projector. Not the first of course, but, perhaps the first really good value. We’ve reviewed three others claiming to be home theater possible over the past couple/three years.

Two were ridiculously expensive for what they offered, which is to say they weren’t great in terms of picture, and more recently, a Viewsonic which could have been a serious home projector but Viewsonic never got the color handling right or provided enough control for a calibrator to compensate and create an accurate calibrated image. That Viewsonic projector was priced similarly to the HD91, but ultimately Viewsonic had to go to fire sale pricing to get rid of them. Hey, that kind of stuff happens with new technologies.

So, with high hopes I fired up the HD91.  As expected, it put its startup screen in about two seconds, nice and bright.  LED projectors, I should point out, tend to be brightest immediately following startup, but dim only slightly by the time they have been on 15-20 minutes.  We measure after the projector is on for at least that long.

LED projectors are rarely bright compared to lamp based, so it came as no surprise that the HD91 isn’t bright.  We’ll discuss at length, but let’s say it really is a home THEATER projector.  It just doesn’t have any spare lumens for tackling any kind of ambient light such as is typical in more of a media, living, or family room..

HD91_endersgame_kid

Photo from Ender’s Game! HD91 provides an image with good depth

Ultimately, there is enough brightness to meet the needs of a lot of people.  The HD91, in regards to brightness, made me think of several very good, but not bright Mitsubishi projectors such as their discontinued HC8000D and HC7900 (Mitsubishi recently exited the projector business).  Due to the brightness the HD91 isn’t going to be for everyone, but that doesnt mean it’s not a great choice for some of us.  Let’s find out.

The HD91 is ready to go for 3D.  It uses an external emitter that plugs into the back, and that works with RF glasses (not the older DLP-link commonly used by many DLP projectors – count that a plus.  The HD91′s glassest run on typical #2035 quarter sized lithium batteries.   In addition to all the usual 3D formats including Blu-ray 3D, the HD91 also does 2D to 3D conversion.

HD91_red_helen_mirren

HD91 tackles a dark scene with Helen Mirren in the movie RED. Very good dark shadow detail.

With an MSRP of $3999 this Optoma projector faces some really stiff home theater competition.   It’s been a few years since Optoma brought out a true home theater projector in this class where it has to take on JVCs Sonys and Epsons, they’ve mostly been focusing on lower priced projectors in the $1000 to $2000 and especially on sub $1000 “entry level” and gaming projectors.

On paper the HD91 projector claims 1000 lumens, and a dazzling contrast ratio spec of 500,000:1.  As you will read, calibrated lumens come in well below that, but that’s hardly uncommon.  With placement close to the screen the HD91 musters up about 600 lumens – for more detail visit the Performance page of this review.

Optoma HD91 Highlights

  • LED Solid State Light engine rated 20,000+ hours
  • Single .065″ Darkchip3 DLP
  • Excellent placement flexibility
  • Moderate Brightness – good for dedicated theater/cave not living room
  • Full calibration controls
  • Very quiet projector
  • CFI (Pure Motion) for smooth otion
  • UltraDetail for dynamic detail enhancement
  • 3D capable – uses RF active glasses
  • 1 Pair of 3D glasses included (there are compatible 3rd party glasses)
  • Excellent 3 year warranty with replacement/loaner program
  • Physically attractive projector, clean lines
  • Nice backlit remote with good range

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