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Optoma EP1690 Projector Review - Image Quality2

Posted on September 3, 2006 by Art Feierman

Projector Sharpness

Nothing wrong at all with the overall sharpness of the EP1690. I did note that when perfectly focused in the center of the screen, the image was the smallest bit soft, and, there was just a little bit more softness in the corners. This would be considered normal, but occasionally a projector comes along that is razor sharp everywhere on the screen. The EP1690 has a pretty short throw lens, making edge to edge sharpness more difficult than projectors that sit further from the screen.

Compression Technology

The EP1690 projector performed very well when it comes to how it handles higher resolution sources. As you know, it's native resolution is 1280x768. For viewing compression technology performance I fed the projector SXGA+ (1400x1050), UXGA (1600x1200) and one higher resolution widescreen mode - WSXGA. In all cases large type as is typically found in Powerpoint looked almost flawless (as expected). On small type, the EP1690 did very well on the SXGA+ and the widescreen WSXGA resolutions. The EP1690 struggled a bit with UXGA, and that is too be expected, as that represents a two step jump in resolution. When viewing UXGA, you are using the EP1690 as a 4:3 not a widescreen projector, so you are trying to compress 1600x1200 down to 1024x768. Basically the projector only has half the pixels of the source, so small type and fine lines will suffer. That said, 10 point type (typical spreadsheet) was very readable, but soft, and "not very pretty" when trying UXGA. In reality, most users that actually have a UXGA source, will simply turn off their computer's display and let it output the Optoma's native resolution for a really good, uncompressed image.

Basic Video Performance

For business video, the Optoma EP1690 performed beautifully, with good contrast, vibrant colors being very accurate (a little less so in Bright mode), but, again, no problem at all. As to how it fares as a home theater solution, I'll discuss that in detail below.

The EP1690 as a bright home projector

The first thing I should say, is that you might seriously select this projector if your home environment doesn't allow for a full (or almost full) darkening of your room, at least some of the time. Keep in mind though, that due to color wheel speed, and some other issues, it will not, in its best video mode, match the overall performance of a good dedicated home theater projector, such as it's sibling, the HD72.

On the other hand, the EP1690 is, in its brightest modes, significantly brighter than the traditional affordable home theater projectors, you'll sacrifice performance in terms of black levels (a difference that would be wiped out by not very much ambient light), contrast, and overall color accuracy. I expect almost everyone will find the performance still to be excellent for things like gaming, and viewing sports, or regular TV/HDTV viewing.

Yet, if evening comes, and your room is now dark, you can kick the EP1690 into its best mode, still have what would be a brighter than most home theater projectors, and still have an image easily rivaling most of the best under $3000 home theater projectors of just a couple of years ago. You should still be very pleased with the overall performance, in the dark.

Out of the box color balance was very good, in fact significantly better than Optoma's old H79, H78DC3, and H27 home theater projectors. Flesh tones were handled very nicely, without the strong green that many Optoma's have exhibited out of the box.

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