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Optoma HD37 Projector: Summary 2

Posted on July 2, 2015 by Art Feierman
HD37 PROJECTOR - SUMMARY page 2:  Warranty, Value and Competition, Pros and Cons

Optoma HD37 Projector Warranty

One year parts and labor is what Optoma provides on the HD37 and most of their other under $2000 projectors.

That, sadly, is unimpressive.  One year is really the minimum out there.  While one year is the most common, a number of competitors offer more, so Optoma loses out in the peace of mind category.  For example of the competition, some BenQs also offer one year, but  Epson offers two years on all of theirs, including a rapid replacement program for both years.  Viewsonic serves up a really impressive three year warranty, and so on.

One year warranties make me nervous.  I'd recommend an extended warranty, even if you have to go third party.  Nothing worse than finding yourself out of warranty if there's an expensive problem say 15 months after you buy one.  At least with 2 year warranties, you can count on projector prices coming down, so an out of warranty failure after two years, might incentivize you to move up to a better projector?

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HD37 Value Proposition and the Competition

Straddling the price of the Optoma are Epson's HC2000/2030 (lower street prices) and their newer Home Cinema 3000 at $1149.  The 2000 series, like the HD37 has built in sound, but the HC3000 lacks it, which can be a disadvantage (or rather an inconvenience) for some home entertainment use.  The 2000/2030 are pure home entertainment projectors, lots of lumens, but less placement flexibility, including no lens shift and a minimal amount of zoom range.

BTW the more expensive Epson HC3500 and HC3600 compete more with Optoma's HD161X or HD50.  Quite honestly, I liked the HD161X more from a value proposition compared to its competition, than I like the HD37 vs. it's competition.

The images here represent first the Optoma, then the BenQ W1080ST (short throw version of the W1070), followed by the Epson HC2000 and the Epson HC3500 (with the same picture as the HC3000). Next is the less expensive Optoma HD141X, which does not look as good, and the BenQ HT1075, then the more expensive HD161X (the one I really like).   In the #7 position is the Viewsonic PJD-7822HDL which is the MHL and improved version of their popular 7820 which was a break through 1080p projector 2+ years ago.  Lastly is the LG PF85U, a more expensive pocket projector ($1299) but one that is also true 1080p, and can compete at home where ambient light is under control!  (Sorry, the LG is definitely underexposed compared to most of the others.)

The HC2000/2030 can't match the black levels of the HD37, and I don't even consider them even "entry level" for home theater, just good home entertainment projectors.  The HC3000 though, (speaker issue not withstanding) can go either home entertainment or put it in your dedicated theater, although the black level performance, even with dynamic iris won't inspire you any more than the HD37.

Of course no rainbow effect issues with those 3LCD powered Epsons. All the rest are DLP projectors.

Viewsonic as noted also has a couple of projectors that can compete.  Their's are primarily "crossover" projectors coming from the business side, but have faster color wheels, and more lumens.  I'd give the Optoma the advantage in out of the box color accuracy, but then Viewsonic models in the price range (or below)  will let you sleep well with their three year warranty.  Note the image above from their PJD7822.

Sony's and Epson's around the $2000 price and higher are a whole step up in overall performance, and would be better at both "entertainment" and home theater, although they will lack internal speakers.  I was tempted to include an image from one of those, but the image I selected isn't a good one for showing off superior black level performance, which is the area where those really excel.

Finally, we're starting to see some 1080p "pocket" projectors - that is LED projectors that are far more compact.  We reviewed the LG PF85U, which like the others mentioned is true 1080p.   Certainly they aren't near as bright, so don't really qualify as true home entertainment despite having a small speaker, but the LG is now easily bright enough to be a home theater projector. I'm really looking forward to seeing how that $1200+ is projector stacks up to the HD37, BenQ and others in the $1000 or so price range.

After much consternation, I have decided to award the HD37 a Special Interest award. (By comparison, the HD161X which I liked more, received our higher - Hot Product Award).  Still, the HD37 is a solid projector, but there's a lot of competition whether home entertainment use or home theater, that for many people may be a better choice  Certainly the HD37 is worth considering, and will be a very good choice if not an excellent one for at least a significant number of you.  Remember, it's not about who's got the best projector (there are not pure "bests"), but which one is the best one for your circumstances.  For example, you just might feel that the BenQ W0170 or Epson HC2030 might be better for what you have in mind, but the extra placement flexibility of the Optoma HD37 projector may allow it to work much better in your room!

Optoma HD37 Pros

Pros:

  • Very good brightness
  • Very good color right out of the box
  • MHL for streaming
  • Three "user" defined buttons on remote (one defaults to lamp brightness)
  • Good remote control
  • Excellent placement flexibility for the price (has 1.5:1 zoom and a small amount of lens shift)
  • Menus are well laid out (but hard to find the lamp brightness)
  • Built in speaker has good volume
  • Two HDMI inputs
  • Full calibration controls
  • 3D Capable, supports Blu-ray 3D, etc.
  • Can use DLP-link glasses (none included) or with optional VESA wireless emitter, use RF glasses with better pciture
  • 3D picture is very clean - no crosstalk
  • Overall a good home entertainment projector, or a respectable entry level home theater projector

Cons:

  • Doesn't measure close to it's 2600 lumen claim (but it's still pretty bright)
  • Very good color but slightly too yellow on skin tones (minor), even after our one shot calibration (needs more "tweaking")
  • Backlight on the remote is blindingly bright in a darkened room
  • Warranty is only one year parts and labor, shorter than many competitors
  • Lacks CFI - smooth motion - for sports viewing (not common at this price point)
  • Black levels are strictly "entry level" and dark shadow detail, while good could be better at this price point
  • Dynamic Black (lamp dimming) is noticeable at times, and you must be in full power to engage it.  It provides minimal improvement in black level performance.
  • A bit noisy at full power (not uncommon with home entertainment projectors)
  • Leaks more than a  little light out of the front and side vents

The Very Bottom Line.  A good compromise projector - not quite real home theater, not quite as bright as some home entertainment models, but better than most placement flexibility, good feature set.

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