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Optoma HD37 Home Entertainment Projector - Special Features

Posted on July 2, 2015 by Art Feierman
HD37 PROJECTOR - SPECIAL FEATURES:  Dynamic Black, 3D Options, MHL on HDMI, Lens Shift

Dynamic Black

Optoma's Dynamic Black feature is a type of lamp dimming.  While some projectors in this price range have physical dynamic irises to lower black levels on darker scenes and provide an overall darker - less gray scene, Optoma instead dims their lamp, for all the same reasons.

The HD37 uses what Optoma calls 5th Generation Dynamic Black, and I can assure you it is much improved from the earliest versions which were very obvious and very jerky.  For years I simply had to recommend that people not use Dynamic Black because that jerkiness was too distracting.

Well, generation five is definitely better, but it is still not up to what a good dynamic iris accomplishes.  Those two can be noticeable at times, but the better dynamic irises are still a good deal smoother, overall, than the HD37's Dynamic Black.

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That said, I personally am still not a fan, but have done almost all of my movie watching on the HD37 with it engaged.  I do notice the occasional jump in brightness, often delayed slightly after scene changes.

I'd say it's your call.  If it bothers you, shut it off. It's not doing that dramatic a job of lowering blacks so it's not making the kind of difference that a great dynamic iris can do.  (I would use Epson's 5030UB as an example of a very good iris with lots of range, but that projector sells for more than double this Optoma.)

Considering most of you will use the HD37 for home entertainment - that is, not in a near pitch black room with dark ceilings, floors and walls, don't count this as a significant negative.  For example, with or without Dynamic Black engaged, the HD37 will still do slightly better - darker  blacks - than LCD projectors in the same price range such as Epson's under $1000 models.

Personally, I wish Optoma would just put a good dynamic iris in their projectors.  They could enhance that with Dynamic Black, judiciously used, and have a much improved projector.  We can only hope, though, for next generation models.

HD37 Projector - Handling 3D

The HD37 out of the box is fully 3D ready.  But, you get no 3D glasses.

That's where it gets interesting.  Like most lower cost DLP projectors the HD37 inherently supports the original 3D scheme for DLP projectors, known as DLP-Link.  With DLP-Link the 3D info is encoded in the picture itself.  It's most noticeable that if you put on a 3D movie and 3D is engaged, blacks look dark red.

No matter!

Here's the thing.  All you need is some DLP-Link 3D glasses and 3D content (including Blu-ray 3D), and you are in business.  You can buy such glasses from around $20.

But Optoma gives you another option.  There's what is called a VESA port in the back of the projector where you can plug in a 3D RF (radio frequency) emitter.  If you go that route then you buy RF glasses, which also start inexpensively these days - under $20.  The differences are several, and important.

First, you will get better picture quality with RF glasses, starting with higher contrast - which is especially appreciated on darker scenes.

Second, greater range.  Now that's not likely to be a problem in most rooms, but in a very large room (say 30 feet deep, you might lose the DLP-Link connection).

Third, and far more significant than the range, is that RF glasses don't require you to look at the screen.  You can probably walk into the next room - no line of sight, and still have the glasses doing their thing.  With DLP-Link, if you look away from the screen to talk to a friend, the 3D signal will stop and you'll be back to a double image.  This can be annoying since when watching with friends, looking away for a second or two would be pretty common.  It only takes a second or so to re-sync when you look back, but, hey, that's a flaw.  With RF you won't lose the 3D at all, so you'll still be seeing 3D in the corner of your eye...

I definitely recommend going RF, but it will cost you an extra $49 for the emitter.  Go for it!

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MHL is the technology that surface a couple / three years ago, that allows the HDMI port on your projector (or LCDTV) to work directly with streaming sticks like Roku's or Amazon's or Googles.  This lets people (mostly millennials), cut free from using cable or satellite boxes, even Blu-ray and DVD players.  With a streaming stick and an internet connection you can watch movies, TV shows, and much more off of channels such as Netflix, or dozens, if not hundreds of others.  There's a huge amount of content out there.

Just don't expect streaming quality to be anywhere near as clean as a movie on a good Blu-ray disc!  For us enthusiasts Blu-ray still rules.


HD37 Projector has Lens Shift

The HD37 projector offers a very modest amount of vertical lens shift, 24% to be specific.  It's always a challenge to put lens shift in a lower cost DLP projector.  The light engine design of 3 chip projectors - whether 3LCD, DLP or LCoS is much more conducive.  On most 3LCD or LCoS projectors for example, the amount of lens shift is often 75% or more.

Thanks to the lens shift, though, you can ceiling mount an HD37 without having to resort to keystone correction which is more destructive to picture quality.  Optoma's primary competition, BenQ - in their W1070 - a direct competitor to the HD37 was the first popular low cost DLP to sport lens shift, and it has slightly less than the Optoma.  Bottom line - it's still a minimal amount, but is good to have if your projector is ceiling mounted, or sitting on a table top, not too far below the bottom of the screen.

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