The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Optoma HD91 LED Home Theater Projector – Review Started – First Look

Greetings Home Theater Projector fans, the Optoma HD91 is here.

I spent about four hours playing with it last night, mostly getting a handle on how the LED light engine affects the picture (compared to conventional lamps) and how good/accurate the HD91 is in terms of out of the box color performance.

This afternoon Mike stopped by to pick up the HD91 projector to calibrate it.  I’ll have it back late tomorrow afternoon, all nicely calibrated, and then the real review can begin.

This projector did not arrive new as most review units due, rather it came from another reviewer, so it has a few hours on it.  Of course, with a claimed 20,000 hour light engine, what’s a few hours.

This, and the next paragraph add some basic info since this blog first went live:  MSRP:  $3999.  Not sure of Optoma’s marketing strategy on this one yet.  A quick online search doesn’t show any discounted prices.   The HD91 projector claims 1000 lumens although my preliminary best guess is that only in Bright mode does it come anywhere near that.  I had switched off an Epson 5030UB and fired up the HD91 immediately after.  The Epson in its calibrated mode, definitely seemed brighter than the Optoma’s Cinema, Film, or Reference mode, and that Epson measured about 650 lumens when new, and now has perhaps 600 hours on the lamp.  We’ll know more with Mike’s measurements.

Contrast claims 500,000:1 (On/Off), but that’s an advantage of an LED light engine, where such numbers are easy to come by, but don’t really promise great black levels.  When the Optoma is switching sources, or has no signal, the output really does drop to about zero, but from quick viewing, contrast on dark scenes of movies seems to be typical for a DLP projector, nothing that would catapult it up in the abilities of a “entry level” JVC, or Sony home theater projector.  We shall see, when I do some side by side photos.

What I did do, is play with many of the modes, none of which impressed me as being accurate.  It was obvious that yellows were an issue, although reds looked pretty good in all but brightest mode which was very green and barely watchable.  Hopefully Mike will be able to come up with a “quick-cal(ibrate)”, where he tries to improve the color as much as possible without giving up more than 10% or so of the brightness.  Like many projectors’ brightest mode, the word “ugly” comes to mind.  I also played with the various Optoma “Pure” features – one for dynamic sharpness, one for smooth motion (CFI) and one for image/color dynamics (Brilliant Color like?)

OptomaHD91AngleLeft

Optoma HD91 LED Projector

Despite no great looking mode, my initial reactions were “great potential, once calibrated,” and “wow” vibrant colors, great explosions”, as I watched content including Catching Fire (2nd Hunger Games), and Deja Vu.  In Deja Vu the explosion of the ferry with any projector is pretty spectacular.  With the HD91, you get the larger color gamut that led (or laser) light sources offer. That is the promise of richer colors, but of course you really need the matching color standards.  REC709, for example, the standard for HDTV wouldn’t know what to do with that extra color.

Back to the explosion.  The explosion was dynamic, as in DYNAMIC.  The colors weren’t quite right, you could see it in the yellow parts, but the overall intensity was spectacular.  I checked multiple modes to see if I could get the explosion to look right color wise, without luck, but then, that’s Mike’s job.  I’m pretty sure the first thing I’ll look at again, when Mike brings the HD91 projector back fully calibrated, will be that explosion.  Skin tones weren’t bad, I should note, but, I would say that most respectable home theater projectors do have better color out of the box.

Other than brightest mode, the HD91 doesn’t seem overly bright. Definitely a home Theater projector, that should have a proper, fully light controlled room.

That folks, is it, for now.  I have to finish up a couple of other reviews, including  an interactive projector review.  And, of course I need to log some serious hours of viewing the HD91 in action.  You may figure the HD91 review probably will publish between 5/17 and 5/25.  To the sooner side, if I can.  -art

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