Optoma may not be a brand that's overly familiar to home theatre enthusiasts but the company has garnered itself a decent reputation overseas. The recently released H57 projector is the latest addition to their projector range.
- Good-quality imagery, build and operation
- A bit expensive for what it is
The Optoma offers all-round good performance for a mid-priced DLP projector, but even so, the biggest thing holding the H57 back will undoubtedly be the price, especially when you take into consideration the top-notch competition available for much less.
Price$ 6,999.00 (AUD)
At its heart is a Texas Instruments Darkchip2 DLP, offering a native resolution of 1,024 x 576. This is the same resolution as the earlier Texas Instruments Matterhorn DLP chip used in many projectors we've reviewed in the past, but with the improved blacks, whites, contrast ratio and sharpness the Darkchip2 technology provides. This technology isn't new of course, and has been available since 2004, but it's a distinction worth noting when comparing the H57 to other DLP projectors sporting the same resolution.
In practice the image produced by this chip is rather nice. Colours were saturated to produce a rich image without going overboard for the sake of impact. Similarly the black level was more than acceptable and the 3,000:1 contrast ratio mentioned in the spec sheet didn't seem out of kilter with what I saw onscreen.
As with most DLP projectors, the rainbow effect is evident, but it's only a drawback if you can see the things to begin with and with 1,100 ANSI lumens of brightness a totally darkened room is not a requirement.
Build quality is good and the white plastic shell is reassuringly sturdy. While there's no lens shift functionality (a shame) there are at least a couple of threaded, adjustable feet to allow you to line the projector up with the screen without the aid of extraneous devices (like folded up cardboard or empty CD cases). Digital keystone correction on both horizontal and vertical axes offers enough flexibility to place the H57 a fair way off-centre too - another plus. The lens itself has a fairly long throw and an optical zoom making it suitable for placement at the back of the room, as opposed to sitting on a coffee table in front of the viewer.
Connection-wise, the Optoma is fully equipped sporting component, S-video, composite, VGA and DVI, and they even throw in an HDMI-to-DVI adapter to cover all bases. Actually operating the H57 was simple, thanks to a menu system that has clearly had a substantial amount of thought put into it. Finding and altering settings was a breeze and is a facet of operation that is easily overlooked during the whole buying process.
However, if there's one thing holding us back from an unqualified recommendation, it's the price - for the technology that's onboard, it's not cheap. You can pick up a high-definition-ready LCD projector such as the Panasonic PT-AE700E for around half the price. While the H57 will display an HD signal, it'll be scaled down to fit the 1,024 x 576 native pixel count.
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