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Optoma HD37 Projector Review - Picture Quality

Posted on July 2, 2015 by Art Feierman
HD37 PROJECTOR:  PICTURE QUALITY:  Out of the Box Picture, Skin Tones, Black Level Performance, Shadow Detail

Out of the Box Picture - Picture Modes

Most impressive is the "out of the box" picture quality.  The two best modes, which seem identical - Bright and Cinema, are unusually good for projectors in this price range.  I'd say either mode looks as good as you can expect to find on almost any LCDTV you or your friends have (unless you have fine tuned them).

Skin tones tend to have a slight yellow (and green) caste, but it is, "slight."  On some content you won't notice it at all.  Most of the lower cost projectors like this HD37 leave a great deal to be desired color wise, when first plugged in.   Not so this projector.

Skin Tones

Overall, skin tones were very good, pre and post calibration, but for that slight extra yellow we couldn't quite get rid of.  Here's a nice collection of images from both Blu-ray and HDTV, for your consideration!

With a little more tweaking, most of that extra yellow should be gone, but I didn't go back into Mike's calibration of the individual colors, which is where that tweaking probably needs to be.

Keep in mind that the actual skin tones colors are what the director wants them to be.  Different times of day, night time, sunlight, cloudy days, all yield completely different color (and color temp) on the same person's face.

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HD37 Black Level Performance

This image player has plenty of images that are good for considering black level performance.  The HD37 is what I call "entry level" home theater.

When you look at the sequence of night train scenes (intentionally very over exposed)  from Casino Royal, you get a good idea of what I mean.  BTW the first of those is the HD37, but note it was taken with Dynamic Black turned off.

Following that is the Epson HC2030, which is a bit more exposed, but like the HD37 lacks pop to the image because the blacks just aren't "that black".

Next up is the BenQ HT1075, which has the advantage, although with Dynamic Black engaged they should be closer to each other.

But then comes the Optoma HD161X which is about $300 more, and it definitely does superior black levels although it's not as linear in grayscale as more expensive projectors, which in turn provide some real "pop" to the scene.  The competing Viewsonic PJD7822HDL is next, and I'd say is comparable to the HD37.  Finally, two "superior" black level performers, the JVC RS4910, which has the best black level performance at, or below it's $5000ish price, and what I consider the lowest cost projector with excellent ultra high contrast blacks, which is the Epson UB ($2300 for the 5030, $3000+ for the bundled 6030UB, but same picture quality)  Obviously, a $1000 projector can't compete with those more expensive JVCs and Epsons.

For all my complaining, remember you need a really, really dark room to get to appreciate great black level performance.  Add a 30 watt light bulb glowing in the back of a dedicated home theater and it will wipe out the bulk of the differences on black levels between any of these.

HD37 Dark Shadow Detail

Dark shadow detail is acceptable but not near best in class.  This is not surprising as in the past a number of Optoma projectors tended to be too "contrasty" to really resolve great detail in near black areas.

The HD37 looses a bit more detail in the shrubs behind the tracks on the lower right of the Bond train image int the section above.  The

Intentionally overexposed very dark image from The Hunger Games. The darkest areas - when viewing still appear medium dark gray, not black, even with the Dynamic Black engaged.

Intentionally overexposed very dark image from The Hunger Games. The darkest areas - when viewing still appear medium dark gray, not black, even with the Dynamic Black engaged.

Optoma also looses a bit more than some competitors on this overexposed image of Katnis and Rue sleeping.

I don't weigh dark shadow detail as being nearly as important as black level performance, or color accuracy, for that matter.  Call the HD37 good at that detail, but far from great.  It's just average for the price range

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