Projector Reviews

Optoma HD37 Home Projector Review – Performance

HD37 PROJECTOR REVIEW – PERFORMANCE:  Brightness of color modes, Effect of Zoom lens and Eco Mode, Sharpness, Audible Noise, Image Noise

Optoma HD37 Brightness

HD37 Brightness in Lumens – Zoom Lens at Mid-point
Picture Mode Brightness in Lumens Color Temp of White (100 IRE)
Cinema 1475 6450K
Reference 1228 6471K
Vivid 1314 7376K
Bright 1475 6471K,
User 1314 7339K

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 HD37 – Best Mode:  1475 lumens

Need more lumens?  Well, of course we quote mid-zoom.  At full wide angle, you get 1637 lumens – roughly 10% more, not enough for anything but a just noticeable difference.  Setting the Color Gamut to Native gives colors a lot more punch – might help a lot with ambient light, but it doesn’t measure significant extra lumens.  BTW, With Mike’s calibration settings Color saturation is set for 24.  If you switch to Native, that will drop to something like -6.

Zoom Lens Position re Brightness

Effect of  Zoom Lens Setting on Brightness (Bright mode)
Zoom out (closest to screen – wide-angle) 1637 lumens
Mid-point on Zoom 1475lumens
Zoom in (furthest – telephoto) 1226 lumens

Going from adjusting the projector’s lens for the closest distance possible for your screen size, to the furthest position (50% further back), results in a loss of about 25% of brightness.  So that’s your brightness penalty if you choose to place the projector as far back as it can go to fill your screen.

Merely going from wide angle to mid-point on the zoom, however results in a modest drop of 10%!  These are fairly typical differences for a 1.5:1 zoom in home entertainment and moderately priced home theater projectors.

HD37 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.

Mike, our calibrator usually reported that one extreme or the other had mediocre to lousy color balance.

Effect of  Brilliant Color Settings on Brightness
Brilliant Color = 10 (max) 1475 lumens
Brilliant Color = 5 (Reference mode) 1295 lumens
Brilliant Color = 1 (minimal) 1228 lumens

The HD37  defaults to 10 setting for maximum pop to the image in Bright and Cinema.  Unlike some older Optoma’s and others with multiple Brilliant Color modes, the difference between maximum and minimum is modest – only 17%.  We’ve seen projectors where Brilliant Color turned off, delivers maybe only 1/3 of the lumens of Brilliant Color at max.    The implementation is the manufacturer’s choice, but TI – maker of the DLP chips provides the basic Brilliant Color technology.   Consider the 1 setting on the HD37 to be Off.

Eco Mode vs Full Power

Effect of  Lamp Mode on Brightness
Bright Lamp 1475 lumens
Eco Mode 1133 lumens


Once again Mike measured using Bright mode.  He found Eco mode dropped brightness down about 24% 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.

HD37 Sharpness

Like most single chip DLP projectors the HD37 has a real 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 rather sharp image.  The HD37’s menus look exceptionally sharp. Where there appears to be some softness, relates more to image processing than the optics.

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 relating to technology used.


Audible and Image Noise

From a standpoint of fan noise, the HD37 is definitely on the noisy side at full power.    For the “noise adverse”, Eco mode is reasonable, or reasonably quiet, although hardly silent. .  Officially the HD37 claims 29 db (in Eco), which might be a touch optimistic.  At times it does speed up or down, no doubt as needed to keep things cool.  More importantly, if you do want to use Dynamic Black to lower black levels slightly, be aware that the projector must be in Full power (Bright) mode, so, the quieter Eco mode isn’t available when you engage Dynamic Black.

Image noise is not an issue. As always, I must mention that I find most DLP projectors to have more background noise than other technologies.  I’m not sure why, however, the HD37 like the HD161X seems a touch better in this regard than some of the other DLP home projectors to roll through here in the last year.