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Optoma EP1690 Projector Review - Image Quality

Posted on September 3, 2006 by Art Feierman

The Optoma EP1690 Widescreen DLP Projector

The Optoma EP1690 Widescreen DLP Projector is extremely flexible. It is suitable as a business projector, and will definitely work for many, as bright home theater projector

As a result, we will look at this Optoma projector separately for these two potential types of use, focusing first on its performance as a business projector. However, information relating to home use will be found under Projector Brightness, etc.

Optoma EP1690 Projector - Brightness

I should say first, that the EP1690 I reviewed came from a dealer, a brand new, unopened projector. This differs from some of the review units that I get directly from manufacturers, which are as often as not, hand picked and tested projectors - "golden units", that are sent out to reviewers. Units that tend to perform a little better than the average. As a result of getting this from a dealer, the performance of this EP1690 should be typical of what you would get if you buy one.

As many of you are aware, rarely does a projector (even those hand picked ones) produce as many lumens as the manufacturer claims, so it's not surpising at all that the EP1690 did not equal the lumens claimed on the brochure. (Of the last 10 business projectors reviewed, only one beat the factory claim, and of the others, the typical projector measured in brightest mode, less than 80% of claim).

In the case of the Optoma EP1690, it performed fairly well, considering. In Bright mode, with lamp on full, Optoma claims 2500 lumens. Our measurements produced a lumen measurement of 1922 lumens - about 77% of claimed performance, and in that regard, typical. For this measurement, the Color Temp setting was 1, there was no difference in brightness regardless of which gamma mode was selected (film, video, graphics, PC).

Switching to ECO (low) power mode, which dims the lamp, the brightness dropped to 1476 lumens, a drop of about 23% which is also very typical.

The color temperature in this brightest mode produced a reading of 7642K (and 7839K in Eco-mode). This is cooler than used for movie watching, and 8000 is the general area where most business projectors measure, as the projector lamps used today are cool - more bluish, less red content. Thus, around this color temperature (or slightly higher) is where a normal business projector will produce its brightest readings, and will perform as expected for Powerpoint presentation, spreadsheets, etc.

Switching out of Bright mode, into Cinema mode where a home theater user is likely to be, drops lumens significantly as expected. With color temp set to 0, we got a measurement of 7588K, still too cool for proper movie watching, but we recorded an impressive 1029 lumens.

At that point the projector was calibrated for video - targeting 6500K. Interestingly the lumen rating after all of this, was 513 lumens - almost identical to Optoma's HD72, one of our Hot Product Award winning home theater projectors, (same box, same lens, etc.)

Translated, in its best possible setup for movie watching the brightness of the EP1690 is not any brighter than the HD72, but if you really need plenty of extra lumens to fight ambient light, the EP1690 has the extra horsepower to make a real difference in your room.

Optoma EP1690 - Color Accuracy

he primary concern with DLP business projectors is how well they produce bright reds, and bright yellows. For years this has been a huge problem for DLP projectors, with bright reds coming out, most typically, as inky dark reds - wine colored. Yellows traditionally come out with some green, and have a mustardy look (like a deli mustard). Recently I have seen improvement in a number of newer DLP projectors, including Dell's 2400MP, and our very recent review of a direct competitor of the EP1690, the Mitsubishi HD4000 widescreen.

The Optoma even in brightest mode did a pretty good job on both reds and yellows, a little dark on reds, and definitely a little yellowish green on bright yellows. Moving into less bright modes, the reds brightened up nicely, and yellows improved as well, although I never did see a really excellent pure yellow (no surprise).

Overall the EP1690's color handling in brightest mode should be more than acceptable for almost all users. The exception will be those that require near perfect color for color matching purposes. (Perhaps you need a perfect red to match your company's logo, or perhaps you are doing architectural renderings or some other application where exact color is essential. Blues and greens, I should note, were, as expected, just fine.

I better point out that one of the modes is sRGB - rarely used by anyone but designed for color matching. I did not test this mode, but it should produce the best overall color, but it will also be one of the least bright settings, and it presumes your source is sRGB calibrated.

Comment: If you need lots of lumens and near perfect color accuracy, most often, LCD projectors are the way to go.

For those interested: Here is the calibration results for video. I mentioned above, under Projector Brightness that we calibrated the projector in Cinema mode for best video color. The adjustments we made to the Gain and Bias (contrast).

Red,Green and Blue Settings

Gain R=3G=1(or 0)B=-2
Bias R=0G=-1B=-2

Cinema mode temperatures

100 IRE (white) 6775K
80 IRE (light gray) 6587K
50 IRE (neutral gray) 6458K
30 IRE (dark gray) 6330K

Overall that's very good (far better than most home theater projectors do, out of the box). I don't doubt that a more careful calibration could further tighten up the numbers around 6500K.

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