As usual, I started with my laptop connected via the analog VGA connection and fed its native resolution (1024 x 768). With this input, the TX542 provided a very nice, sharp picture.
Much like the recently reviewed Sharp PG-D3510X, colors were quite accurate. This seems to be an area where DLP projectors are making great strides lately. While in Bright mode, reds were still a little too dark and the greens leaned toward yellow, the TX542 had much better color in Presentation mode and well balanced color in Movie mode. As the colors can be improved through the use of controls mentioned in the previous section of this review, the overall color spectrum can look quite nice indeed. As with the Sharp, it’s still a bit short of what some of the better LCD projectors can produce, but it’s still more than sufficient for most users.
As a result of the good color, photo presentations also looked quite nice with the TX542, particularly in Movie mode, but also Presentation mode. If you need the extra brightness of Bright mode for a photo presentation, you can adjust yellow in the advanced color adjustment area of the menu to reduce the red influence.
Just a quick note, switching over to the TX542’s HDMI input (also from my laptop) provided similarly excellent results and possibly even slightly more accurate color. Definitely recommended if you have the ability to use HDMI.
As seems to be the norm these days with DLP projectors, the TX542 provided a very sharp, clean image with a variety of source material. Our usual spreadsheet, which has a range of text sizes and colors, was easily readable for all color and size combinations (from 8 pt. to 36 pt. text and white text-on-black or yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds).
Switching to higher resolutions and aspect ratios than its default 1024 x 768, the TX542 was more than up for the task. Whether it was 1600 x 1200 (higher resolution, but same aspect ratio), or 1600 x 900 (higher resolution and different aspect ratio), the TX542 handled it in stride. Its ability to scale and resize these resolutions cleanly points to very good compression circuitry. There were no issues with even the smallest text on the spreadsheet. Such text remained quite readable and there was no color separation or overlap as can be found on some LCD projectors (mainly due to slight convergence issues inherent in a three-chip projector vs. a single chip DLP). While it wasn’t long ago that most projectors in the TX542’s class has problems displaying non-native resolutions and/or aspect ratios, our recent reviews have noted great strides in this area. Many projectors these days are employing more advanced scaling and compression techniques that allow for a sharp picture at any resolution. The Optoma TX542 is no exception in this regard, being highly readable with any resolution.
To check out the TX542’s video performance, I used the DVD playback from my laptop computer, connected via HDMI. The TX542’s 3000:1 contrast ratio is a very good ratio for a projector this bright and is comparable to home theater projectors just a few years ago. You’d have to be using the projector in a fairly dark room to achieve anything anywhere near that ratio however. However, as Movie mode still puts out over 1300 lumens, the Optoma TX542 projector did a solid job with video reproduction in that mode. Even if you need a bit more brightness for use in an average lit room, putting the TX542 in Presentation mode will provide highly watchable video.
Fortunately, due to the low noise and 5-watt stereo speakers, the TX542 has enough power to create a usable volume level for most classrooms and even some conference rooms, making it possible to use it for video presentations with audio, or input from a presenter’s microphone.
Overall, the TX542 provides video reproduction that is more than acceptable in any business or educational setting.