Optoma HD50 Home Theater Projector – Holiday Treat #1

With Black Friday only hours away, it’s time to introduce all you projector fans to the first of two recently launched home projectors.  Both have been announced in the last month.  We haven’t received either for review yet, but will be reviewing both projectors.  Both are selling in the $1500 to $2000 range.
Photo of the front of the Optoma HD50 Projector
Optoma HD50 Home Theater Projector – DLP technology, 2200 lumens at a $1599 price point
This first blog covers Optoma’s new HD50.  It will be followed later today with a second blog about the new Epson Home Cinema 5025UB.  Looks like the HD50 will be a great replacement for the previous Optoma projector we’ve reviewed around this price – that would be the old HD25-LV. The HD50 follows it its footsteps, claiming a very nicely bright 2200 lumens.  It also looks to do some nice black levels, as it is quoting 50,000:1 contrast.  Of course contrast claims are all over the place, we’ve seen projectors claim 200,000:1 that couldn’t match the black performance of other projectors claiming only 40,000:1 contrast.  Ultimately, when the HD50 projector arrives for review, I’ll get a close look at the black level performance and provide my usual subjective opinion, along with showing you all, the usual comparison images of the same dark scenes produced on competing projectors. Based on reading Optoma’s press release and data sheet, this Optoma, like almost all Optoma home projectors offers Dynamic Black, which is Optoma’s answer to using a dynamic iris to improve black levels.  If this is the usual Optoma scheme, Optoma uses lamp dimming, instead of a dynamic iris.  In the past I’ve found Optoma’s Dynamic Black to be too slow, and therefore a bit too noticeable, but Optoma has been improving it over the years, so I’m hoping for a solution that helps a lot with those dark scenes, without being too obvious.  We shall see, when the HD50 arrives. Placement flexibility is pretty good, thanks to an all glass 1.5:1 manual zoom and a modest amount of vertical lens shift – something I figure Optoma learned from BenQ’s success with their popular W1070, which was perhaps the first recent DLP projector in the lower price ranges to offer lens shift even if only a small amount, but enough to make many people’s lives easier, by virtue of making a lot of less than perfect room layouts practical.   The HD50 comes with the “usual” selection of inputs and connectors, including a pair of HDMI inputs, although there’s no indication that either support MHL the smart mobile HDMI capability.
Optoma HD50 inputs
Optoma HD50 rear view – inputs and connectors
Now consider: Optoma built this baby as a home theater projector, not “home entertainment”.  These days, that’s unusual for Optoma a company that on the home side is primarily offering projectors under $1000, including a lot targeting the gaming market.  One telling difference between home entertainment and home theater is sound.  The assumption in a home theater is that you’ll have some serious surround sound system, whether a basic $199 HTIB (home theater in a box) or some truly awesome $1000 – $10,000+ sound system.  As a result, the lower cost home entertainment projectors tend to have one, or a pair of speakers with some decent sound capability, but there’s only so much you can do with speakers in a small projector. No issue in this case – no speakers for the HD50.  Optoma sees this projector as going in your home theater, to be used with a separate sound system.  Of course you can place the HD50 in a family room, living room, or bonus room type setup that has respectable lighting control. The Optoma HD50, of course is 3D ready.  This Optoma comes with an outboard RF 3D emitter, rather than DLP-Link, which most older Optoma’s had built in.  We strongly favor RF glasses and general performance over DLP-Link, so that’s a plus.  Two pair of 3D glasses are included with the HD50! New DLP projectors like this HD50 in this price range have been pretty few and far between, so I’m really looking forward to getting this one in (just awaiting its arrival), taking a quick look at the “out of the box” picture quality and then handing it off to Mike for a full calibration, followed by my review which should go live in the next couple of weeks! It’s been a while since we really were dazzled by an Optoma projector in this price range.  Optoma’s definitely due, and I’m definitely looking forward to working with their HD50.  Stay tuned!  -art      

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