Optoma HD91 Home Theater Projector Review

OPTOMA HD91 PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY: HDTV and Sports, 3D, Overall Picture Quality

The Optoma HD91 may well be best for a dedicated theater or cave, but that doesn’t mean that only movies will be watched there.  As sports is a major reason why many buy projectors, and HDTV in general is popular in home theaters as well as elsewhere, we consider performance in this area to be important to many.  If, on the other hand, all you care about are movies…then you won’t need to count this into your math in determining if the HD91 is the right projector for you.

HD91 Sports and HDTV Viewing

Let’s start with sports!  HDTV sports looks really good.  First of all, the Optoma is very sharp seeming.  Further enhancement using Ultra Detail increases perceived sharpness, but also may result in more noticeable image noise.  That’s not going to be an issue on a football field image, but you might notice in a closeup shot of one of the players’ faces.  But sports is about “the game” and not how flawless the skin tones of a player or an announcer are, so I have to complaints.

Dial in Optoma’s Ultra Detail control to levels you are comfortable with (Set to On should do it. I find the other setting; HD+, to be over the top, although maybe you won’t on sports).  Even with it off, you get a really nicely sharp HDTV image.  (Note, when we capture these sports images, you are looking at only 1 of the 2 interlaced frames (1080i) as a result, there’s only half of the vertical resolution.  Thus, the images inherently look sharper when the game is playing, not paused.  Look closely and you can see some of those jaggies caused by the pausing.

Overall color is vibrant.  The football field images with the large NFL graphics on the grass look great.  Uniforms pop.

Vibrant is very good, especially for sports and doubly so if your projector isn’t especially bright, as is the case with the HD91.  While many projectors in this price range can put out up to 2000 lumens or so with pretty good color, the Optoma only has at most, perhaps 700 lumens with good color, so it can’t handle more than a little ambient light, unless you have a very high gain, or ambient light rejecting screen.

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HD91 ambient light for HDTV – the front right shutters are almost fully closed, leaking very little light

For most of our photo shoots for HDTV – notably sports, the shutters to the right of my screen are usually about half open, allowing in a fair amount of ambient light.  One of the rear windows’ shutters are similarly opened, and the door to the theater is usually open about half way, letting in lots of light from the large skylight out there.

 

But for this shoot, to get that nice vibrant look, the shutters to the right of the screen are almost fully closed (still leaking light) and the rear ones as closed as they get, with the door only open inches, instead of more typical setup for HDTV sports shoots, which is with the side shutters about half open, same for rear shutters, and door open about half way.

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Side door to theater only cracked a few inches. Shutters on rear window fully closed

Generally when I have friends over, I prefer more light in the room than that, but it’s hardly fully dark.  You just won’t want to be trying to read a magazine with this little light coming in (other than from the screen).

Again, this Optoma HD91 is a home Theater projector.  It doesn’t belong in a family room or living room where you con’t have excellent light control of the room.

I use a Stewart Studiotek 130 with it’s 1.3 gain, with these lighting conditions for all of the sports and other HDTV images above.  I did not have the usual 6 or 7 rear down facing lights on, which are usually on for HDTV shoots of football.

3D Picture

From a picture quality standpoint I thought the HD91 did great.  Color in 3D was pretty good (we don’t calibrate for 3D), we’re not used to a lot of great color in 3D, and often when we find it we favor a brighter mode because brightness is usually the challenge for 3D viewing.  In the case of the HD91, which is inherently not a very bright projector, I find viewing at a 100″ diagonal size to definitely leave me wanting more brightness.  Down around 85″ diagonal size though it does well enough (presuming a 1.3 gain screen, but with a 1.5 gain screen, that should make 100″ work.)

Aas expected from a DLP projector there was no visible projector generated crosstalk.

Most notably the image appears very sharp clean and clear.  As with 2D, 3D seems to have a lot of natural depth to the picture.

The Optoma has 2D – 3D conversion and I watched most of a movie with it on.  Not my thing;  After a while I was very aware of how they were “bending” the image to do a lot of the 3D depth.   Kids should love it.  I’ve yet to see a 2D to 3D conversion in a projector that I’ve really liked, until the projectors get better at it, let’s leave 3D conversions to the studios (i.e. Top Gun).

HD91 Overall Picture Quality

I like the picture.  For its brightness the image has a lot of pop.  Colors seem vibrant, and the picture is very sharp, a combination of single chip DLP design, and well designed light engine and apparently rather good optics for a 1.9:1 zoom lens.  Applying a little Ultra Detail, can add even more crispness, when desired (sports in particular).

My issues with the color are secondary, except to say this projector needs to be calibrated, one way or another.  I think if Mike were to spend a little more time, we could correct that slight issue giving skin tones a slightly thin on red, gray green shift.  The characteristics of an LED light engine are very different than lamp based, making calibrating more challenging, because its different.

Black levels and the dynamic iris action is where the picture comes up short for its price point, although one could say “you can’t be good at everything”.  Shadow detail on the other hand was as good as it gets.

 

 

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News And Comments

  • http://www.darkrealmfox.com/film_reviews/ FoxyMulder

    I have an i1 Display Pro 3 meter with Chromapure software, i just tape the glasses very carefully to the front of the meter ( on a tripod ) and stick the player into 2D to 3D conversion mode and calibrate for 3D, the improvement in image quality is immense, well worth doing, you can have 3D looking every bit as good as 2D, obviously not as bright but that’s the only tradeoff with 3D.

    Thanks for the review, real shame that the Dynamic Black doesn’t work as well as on the Optoma HD131XE projector, hopefully in a few years LED will improve more.