Projector Reviews

Optoma HD161X Home Theater Projector Review – Performance

HD161X PROJECTOR REVIEW – PERFORMANCE:  Brightness, Effect of Zoom lens, Eco Modes, Sharpness, Audible Noise, Image Noise

Effect of  Lamp Mode on Brightness
Bright Lamp 1155 lumens
Eco Mode 848 lumens

 

Optoma HD161X Brightness

HD161X Brightness in Lumens – Zoom Lens at Mid-point
Picture Mode Brightness in Lumens Color Temp of White (100 IRE)
Cinema 1103 6572K
Reference 1001 6653K
Vivid 1001 7994K
Bright 1151, 1492 w/Native lamp 6736K,
User 1001 8018K
Game 1103 7514K

A quick look at the numbers in the chart, and you notice a few things.  Other than switching Bright mode to Native lamp color temp, all the modes are within 150 lumens of each other – less than 15% variation, which is slight.

Also there are three groups of modes in terms of brightness.  If you look at Vivid and User mode, they are essentially identical, indicating that when Mike did his measurements before calibration, User was based on Vivid mode, as they share near identical numbers.  User takes on the life of the last mode where you modified settings.

Calibrated:  Optoma HD161X – Best Mode:  1001 lumens

Need more lumens?

Max Brightness with respectable color – Our “Quick-Cal”:  1298 Lumens  (both the Calibrated and Quick-Cal numbers are mid-zoom)

Having about 1000 calibrated lumens is plenty for a home theater environment, for classic lights off movie viewing.  In fact less than half of that is officially needed to have movie theater brightness on a 100″ screen.  One of the reasons home theater projectors have gotten a lot brighter in the last few years is so there are enough lumens for reasonable 3D brightness, which is a challenge as 3D is typically about only 40% of the brightness of 2D.  As mentioned on the previous page, where you can use more lumens is for non-darkened room viewing, which is typical of “TV”, especially sports.

In that regard, the HD161X puts up good color for sports, etc. with only a slight increase in lumens.  There’s always native mode if you need the maximum brightness possible, but if you are expecting that when shopping, there are competing projectors that are about 30 to 50 percent brighter.

Zoom Lens Position re Brightness

Effect of  Zoom Lens Setting on Brightness (Bright mode)
Zoom out (closest to screen – wide-angle) 1236 lumens
Mid-point on Zoom 1155 lumens
Zoom in (furthest – telephoto) 1007 lumens

Going from adjusting the projector’s lens for the closest distance possible for your screen size, to the furthest position (50% further back), only results in a drop of brightness of just under 20%.  Setting up with the projector at mid-zoom only sacrifices about 6.6% of brightness, which is insignificant.

HD161X Projector - Brilliant Color

A simple way to describe Brilliant Color is to say that it is a suite of settings and image enhancement algorithms, provided to DLP projector builders by the DLP folks at Texas Instruments.  Manufacturers ultimately decide how to integrate.  Here Optoma, for example offers ten different settings options.  Some other companies offer only On and Off, or perhaps three settings.

In this case, while there are 10 settings to choose from the variations from one to the next are slight.  Note that brightness only drops only 20% from 10 to 1.  I seem to recall some projectors being more than twice as bright with Brilliant Color engaged.  That’s ok, when that type of range occurred, Mike, our calibrator usually reported that one extreme or the other had lousy color balance.

Effect of  Brilliant Color Settings on Brightness
Brilliant Color = 10 (max) 1155 lumens
Brilliant Color = 5 (Reference mode) 1052 lumens
Brilliant Color = 1 (minimal) 930 lumens

The HD161X defaults to 10 setting for maximum pop to the image, for all modes but Reference where they use a more subtle setting of 5.  5 is what I did the bulk of my viewing with, except of course for sports.

Eco Mode vs Full Power

Effect of  Lamp Mode on Brightness
Bright Lamp 1155 lumens
Eco Mode 848 lumens

 

Once again Mike measured using Bright mode.  He found Eco mode dropped brightness down almost 27% from full lamp mode.  That amount of drop (give or take minor measuring error) should remain the same no matter which color mode you were to measure.

Eco mode, of course reduces your electric bill, brightness, and also fan noise.

HD161X Sharpness

Single chip DLP projectors have a distinct advantage over the multiple types of 3 chip projectors such as LCD and LCoS, which have to deal with aligning three panels.

Of course you need “good glass” – a quality lens to take full advantage.   This Optoma unlike many lower cost projectors (including other Optoma projectors, has an all glass lens (no plastic lens elements).  The result is the ability to project a very sharp image.  The HD161X’s menus look exceptionally sharp. The image processing on the other hand doesn’t seem to produce quite as sharp a picture when viewing normal 1080p and 1080i content.

The second last image (the darker of the two PS3 icon images) is this Optoma.  The other is the $1999 Epson 4030, a 3LCD design.  That gives you some idea of the differences in sharpness more between the technologies, than the implementation.

Audible and Image Noise

From a standpoint of fan noise, the HD161X is a bit on the noisy side at full power, but less so than for example, the competing Epson.  For the “noise adverse”, Eco mode is nicely quiet, and shouldn’t offend anyone.  Officially the HD161X claims 29 db, which might be a touch optimistic.  Still it does seem slightly quieter than some Epsons that claim 31-33 db.  Fan noise, it should be noted, does seem variable.  At times it does speed up or down, no doubt as needed to keep things cool.

Image noise is not an issue.  In many hours of viewing, I noticed no specific artifacts either in terms of standard mosquito noise, or any motion artifacts.  Of course various image processes such as smooth motion (Pure Motion) do add such artifacts, but they aren’t inherent to basic processing.  In other words, no problem.  I should note, that I normally find most DLP projectors to have more background noise than other technologies.  I’m not sure why, however, the HD161X seemscleaner in this regard than any of the other DLP home projectors to roll through here in the last year.