Projector Reviews

Optoma HD143X Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality 2

Optoma HD143X Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality 2: Black Level Performance and Dark Shadow Detail, The Bottom Line on Picture Quality

Black Level Performance and Dark Shadow Detail

Sub-$1000 projectors and good black level performance typically aren’t two phrases that go together, as that bragging right is usually reserved for projectors designed for the home theater – that is, a dedicated home theater or cave that can be fully darkened. Home entertainment projectors are geared more toward living rooms, family rooms and living rooms that have less control over ambient light – and if you’re expecting ambient light to be present, something like black levels becomes less necessary, as ambient light washes out those dark colors before any others. So, most home entertainment projectors have entry level black level performance.

But, in the case of the Optoma HD143X, I can safely say that the black level performance is better than entry level, and excellent for the price, thanks to a feature called Dynamic Black. In fact, I’d even venture to say this projector has the best black level performance I’ve seen at this price. Blacks are way closer to true black than any sub-$1000 home entertainment projector I’ve seen, and are competitive with the black levels of the Epson Home Cinema 2150 that I reviewed a while back – and that one is about $400 more.

The slider above shows the difference between Dynamic Black Off and Dynamic Black On, using our standard photo of Katniss’ interview in The Hunger Games. In person, the difference is much more noticeable than in the photos, but these will at least give you some idea of the black levels when that feature is turned on versus when it is turned off. I’ve also included our two Black Level Performance photos of Katniss and Rue in the tree – one with Dynamic Black Off and one with Dynamic Black Off. These photos were taken in black and white, so the difference is much easier to see in these photos versus the ones with color.

The photos in the slider above are of dark scenes from various content, including Ready Player One, The Hunger Games and Stranger Things. With Dynamic Black Off, as it is in the photos of The Hunger Games and Stranger Things, you can see a lot more detail in the shadows of these images, versus the shadow detail in Ready Player One, where Dynamic Black is turned on. I think Dynamic Black would be a feature you’d utilize in a fully darkened, or, at least, mostly darkened room, as ambient light would wash out those good black levels. For times when you’re viewing with ambient light present, turn Dynamic Black Off to see more detail in dark scenes.

Bottom Line on Picture Quality

The Bottom Line: Rather excellent, and better than some higher priced projectors! Its 1080p resolution produces a sharp, crisp image whether projecting movies, HDTV, sports, or video game content. There are two best modes on the projector – Cinema and Reference – which have excellent color and are great at handling skin tones. Vivid Mode is your best bright mode – you’ll get to see how these modes measured on the next page. I quite enjoyed viewing both movies and TV content, as well as playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Stranger Things is one of the darker shows out there, in terms of both color and story, and so you’ll want to use one of the brighter modes on shows like that if you’re viewing with ambient light. Vivid should do fine. The projector should do well in your typical living room or media room environments, and does not need to be used in a home theater or “cave” environment. Still, it would be at home in a fully darkened room, and you can definitely use it as a home theater projector.

Next up is the Performance Page, where I will discuss how the projector performed in terms of brightness and meeting its claim. I’ll also talk about the effects of the zoom lens and ECO Mode on brightness, input lag, image and audible noise. After that, we’ll hop over to the final page of the review, where I sum up my findings on the Optoma HD143X and provide a list of pros and cons so that you can determine whether this projector is right for your particular needs.