Projector Reviews

Oproma HD70 – General Performance

Optoma HD70 Projector Menus

Optoma continues to use, basically the same look and layout in their menus, as on several other Optoma’s we have reviewed in the last few months. This is a good thing. The menus are large enough to easily read the choices, and you can select where you want them to appear on the screen. I quickly moved the menus to the lower left (I hate having them dead center).

Optoma HD70

The most used menu will be the first one, the Image menu shown here. Basically there are two pages, this one, and the Advanced menu, which can be selected from this one. All the usual goodies are found on these two, starting with a choice of Preset modes, of which Optoma offers five: Cinema, Bright, TV, Photo and User. When you select the Mode, it opens up the thin menu you see immediately below and you can scroll through the five choices with the remote’s arrow keys, or the ones on the HD70’s control panel. I should note that selecting TV kicks in overscan, however that can be adjusted to 0, to prevent loss of some image around the edges.

Selecting the Advanced Menu brings up a host of choices. First is Degamma, with choices of

The HD70 uses one of Texas Instruments newest DLP chips, and supports TI’s Brilliant color. You will note, as you change modes and Degamma, that BrilliantColor will change automatically, as will TrueVivid.

Color Temp defaults to 1 in most cases, although we found setting it to 2 (choices are 0-3) provided a better overall color temperature for movie viewing. More on this down below in the calibration section.

ImageAI is a feature on all of Optoma’s home theater projectors. It is a typical system for adjusting the image frame by frame, with the primary function to enhance black levels (make blacks “blacker” grays than otherwise). If you do run AI, two points of note. First, the lamp will effectively be in full power mode, so lamp life will not be as good as low power settings. Time for quick lesson. Since I have addressed this in other recent reviews, please skip if you are “up to speed”.

With ImageAI black levels become variable. On certain scenes with no bright areas, ImageAI on can significantly reduce black levels, on other scenes where there is bright content, the ImageAI becomes less effective or has no visible effect at all. Sound funky? It’s not. If you have scenes with a lot of bright areas, noticing the black levels is inherently difficult – your eyes are, first of all, drawn to the bright areas, and second, your eye’s iris will “stop down” to adjust for the brightness, effectively lowering your perception of black levels.

Dynamic iris’es and/or lamps are common on LCD projectors (which have more limited contrast without them, than DLP projectors. You will find them on popular models like the Sanyo PLV-Z5 and Panasonic PT-AX100U, among others. Far fewer DLP projectors use AI to enhance contrast, still, it’s nice to have, and if you can detect AI at work, and it bothers you (you might notice immediately following a scene change or if within a scene a bright object enters the image, that the overall brightness may brighten or darken appropriately. Now that I’ve said that, don’t panic. I found the Image AI, only to be easily detectable on extreme changes, and only when looking for it.

The two images below are designed to demonstrate the ImageAI at work, and its affect on on black levels. The first image is on a very dark star scene (from The Fifth Element). I set the exposure so that the image is sufficiently overexposed that you can see the “blacks” as medium dark grays. In the second image, I opened up one of the menus. Since the menus are very bright, and I used the exact same exposure, not only are the menus overexposed, but you can easily see that the blacks are now lighter grays than before. This, because, with the bright information the AI cannot “do its thing”.