Projector Reviews

Optoma HD131Xe Projector: HDTV and Sports

OPTOMA HD131XE:   SPORTS AND GENERAL HDTV

HD131Xe Handling Hi-Def Sports with NFL Content

No shortage of punch, even with the fair amount of ambient light allowed in my room, when viewing in Mike’s adjusted mode, or Bright mode.  In my theater, even with my back 7 led recessed lights on in the evening I need no more than Cinema mode for viewing sports,  Cinema mode has Brilliant Color set to 5 so brightness is “merely” over 1100 lumens.

The overall image is very sharp, as one would expect from a respectable single chip DLP projector. This Optoma’s optics are a slightly  less sharp in the corners than in the center – not surprising, but not bad.  Not enough to notice in my normal viewing. More on sharpness on in the Performance section.  Still, it will seem at least as sharp as any “3 chip” competition, such as the 3LCD Panasonic and Epson projectors!

In most modes, reds are still a little off, but this is sports, where few are overly concerned about the finer points of color accuracy.   BTW Cinema probably has the best reds, but suffers elsewhere.  Check out the images.

Note that this Optoma HD131Xe does not offer CFI – creative frame interpolation, for smooth color.  That’s just not a feature, that so far, is found on sub-$1000 projectors, in fact most under $2000 projectors lack it as well, so spending a lot more on a projector would be necessary to get into that “smooth motion” capability.

Bottom line on sports:  The HD131Xe can do a great job, even handling enough ambient light that would overpower some more expensive “theater only” type projectors.  Of course since we took these images with a goodly amount of ambient light in the room, they are all slightly washed out, but still looking rather good.

The images below – some general HDTV images – non-sports, by comparison, were taken with the shutters mostly closed, letting in perhaps 1/4 the ambient light or less, but still far more than a darkened theater room.  The exception are the Victoria Secret Fashion Show images, which were taken with minimal ambient light.

 

HD131Xe Projector Handling General HDTV Content - Low Ambient Light

With the lower ambient light levels, even the darker concert images look very good.  The three general HDTV images – in this case from CBS This Morning, look fine give or take the previously discussed color shortcomings.   Sorry for repeating an image or two here.  I apparently shot too few!

The nice thing about most HDTV programming is that it’s digital content, with none of the extra softness associated with film (nor the grain).  As a result, with this type of content, (and the sports too), the Optoma HD131Xe overall has an image that looks slightly sharper than the LCD competition.

The result might be a sense of more depth to the image, but in reality, the 3LCD competition, which is at least as bright, has no shortage of pop to the image, in fact, slightly more.  Consider the real trade-off to be a bit of sharpness favoring the likes of this Optoma, while the lowest cost Epson and Panasonic’s produce at least the same brightness, but with better color.

As always, trade-offs.  All considered, for the bucks, the Optoma does just fine, if only it’s color was a little better on general HDTV viewing, it probably would contend for the best, overall,  in the price range.  Personally, I’m not satisfied enough with the color handling, but, I’m speaking as a real “enthusiast” who is rarely more than reasonably satisfied with projectors under $2000.

The Bottom Line on HDTV and Sports

Overall the HDTV image was clean, I noticed no tearing around the edges of the image.  Better still, if there was some, this projector offers Edge Masking, rather than Overscan.  That’s a plus, because if there is some noise at the edges, I’d rather maintain the sharpness of 1:1 pixel mapping, than using compression techniques to expand all but the other edge to fill the screen.

That being a separate issue, the only two downsides to really report about HDTV and sports viewing, are a) the lack of CFI for smooth motion, a feature not to be found on any current competitors either, so a moot point, if shopping only in the sub-$1000 price range.

The other issue, of course, is the color accuracy.  I really don’t care too much about that for sports, but I did find some of that great Discovery HD and Travel HD type content to be enough off, color wise to disappoint an enthusiast like myself. None the less, the HD131Xe projector has some kick ass brightness, which is still the first key to enjoying HDTV and sports in rooms that are less than ideal.