Optoma HD39HDR 1080p Gaming Projector Review
Optoma HD39HDR Pros
- Enhanced Gaming Mode for low input lag
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Sub-$1,000 street price
- High lumen output for the price
Optoma HD39HDR Cons
- Mediocre HDR performance
- Enhanced Gaming Mode is only for 1080p signals (pending promised firmware update)
Our Take On the Optoma HD39HDR
The Optoma HD39HDR should appeal to gamers with features like 120Hz refresh rate in 1080p and a low input lag that rivals similarly-priced televisions, but serious videophiles may want to look for a projector with better color reproduction and HDR.
The Achilles' heel that plagues almost all projectors is their input lag—maybe not a big deal to casual movie watchers, but a huge detriment to any gamer. Optoma has released the HD39HDR (as well as the short-throw GT1080HDR) so gamers can have a wall-sized image without the input lag affecting player ability and causing unnecessary frags or frustrated teammates. With a street price of $799, the 1080p-native resolution HD39HDR is comparable in price to the Epson 2150 and Optoma's own HD142X. In the years since those two models came out though, there has been improvement in the brightness of sub-$1,000 projectors. The HD39HDR outputs 4,000 ANSI lumens, versus 2,500 and 3,000 lumens, respectively, for those other models. Additionally, it will accept a 4K signal and supports HDR10 while downscaling and playing those signals at its native 1080p resolution.
In this last regard, the HD39HDR is similar to the Optoma HD27HDR ($649 street price) that ProjectorCentral reviewed last year. The primary differences are a not insignificant 600 additional lumens of rated brightness and shorter lamp life in the HD39HDR, shorter input lag time on the HD39HDR over the already fast HD27HDR (8 ms at its fastest vs. 16 ms), and the inclusion on the HD39HDR of VGA and RS-232 ports that may be helpful in business settings.
Optoma HD39HDR Features
The Optoma HD39HDR has a 245W lamp light source that outputs 4,000 ANSI lumens in its Bright power mode and brightest color mode. At that output, the lamp is rated for 4,000 hours of use. Changing the mode to Eco or Dynamic increases the lamp life to 10,000 and 15,000 hours, respectively. The projector has a 0.65-inch Texas Instruments 1080p DMD chip and 6-segment RYGCWB color wheel. It accepts 4K UHD signals (at 60Hz over HDMI 1 and 30Hz over HDMI 2) and supports HDR10 high dynamic range content (over HDMI 1 only).
Although this isn't a short throw or ultra-short throw projector, there's a good deal of flexibility for placement. The HD39HDR has a 1.3x zoom with a throw ratio of 1.12-1.47:1 and a projection distance of 3.3-32.8 feet. You can use our Optoma HD39HDR Projection Calculator to determine the throw distance for your desired image size. There's no optical lens shift, but there are adjustments in the menu if you absolutely need to fine tune the keystone or horizontal and vertical image shift. There are four setup options to allow front or rear projection either on a tabletop or when ceiling-mounted.
The focus of the HD39HDR is as a gaming projector, and to that end it includes some very attractive features for gamers. As noted, input lag is always an enemy and one that is far more prevalent on projectors than televisions, but Optoma has done an incredible job limiting the lag here. Natively, it's only 33.5 ms, which is already better than the vast majority of projectors (some have input lag that tops 100 ms). But in addition, there is an Enhanced Gaming Mode that drops the input lag on a 1080p 60Hz signal to 16.8ms. In 120Hz mode (available on a 1080p signal only over HDMI 1) the input lag drops down to 8.4ms, not to mention the benefits you get from a high refresh rate, such as smoother motion. You will, of course, need a gaming source that will output a 120Hz signal. Currently that's either a PC or an Xbox One. The Enhanced Gaming Mode is also currently only available for 1080p signals, though Optoma says it is working on a firmware update that will enable HDR with Enhanced Gaming Mode in the future.
There's a single 10W speaker that plays surprisingly loud, but—unsurprisingly—is merely serviceable for watching movies or playing games. Since it's mono, there isn't any spatial definition and the sound lacks focus. If you absolutely must use the speaker, dialogue will be intelligible but you'll miss any impacts or extra effects.
The remote is small and light. It has quite a bunch of buttons, especially for its size, and can be a bit confusing at first glance, but gets easier with repeated use. The primary buttons (menu and directional) are easily within thumbs reach, and the remote backlight helpfully illuminates the symbols on the keys, though it was exceptionally bright when viewed in total darkness and may be a bit much for sensitive eyes.
Optoma HD39HDR Key Features
- 1920 x 1080 native resolution with 0.65-inch TI DLP chip
- 4,000 ANSI lumens Accepts
- 4K UHD input for playback at 1080p
- HDR10 support
- Enhanced Gaming Mode with input lag as low as 8.4 ms and 120 Hz refresh rate
- Manual focus and 1.3x zoom
- Full HD 3D
- Internal 10-watt speaker
- Up to 15,000 hour lamp life
Optoma HD39HDR Performance
Preset Modes. When the Optoma HD39HDR is sent a standard dynamic range (SDR) signal, there are eight different display modes to choose from—Presentation, Bright, HDR SIM, Cinema, Game, sRGB, DICOM SIM, and User. A separate 3D mode is enabled with 3D material, and three ISF modes—Day, Night, and 3D—can be unlocked and calibrated by an ISF calibrator. There's the choice between Standard, Cool, and Cold color temperature within each preset mode and seven different SDR gamma curves—Film, Video, Graphics, Standard (the default), 1.8, 2.0, and 2.4. For those with the proper measurement equipment, there is a robust color management system with RGB Gain and Bias sliders for grayscale, and hue, saturation, and gain controls for each color point.
In addition to color temperature in the Color Settings menu there is a slider with values from 1 to 10 for BrilliantColor. This adjusts the amount of white light added with the white segment of the color wheel . A higher value adds more white light, causing white images to pop more on screen, but also lowers the percent color brightness and makes colors appear darker. Turning down BrilliantColor will boost the color brightness while lowering the overall lumen output of the projector because of the decrease in added white light. Turning it all the way down will give a more balanced color profile but you will lose the bright highlights that are attractive to many viewers' eyes. The projector's Cinema mode has a default setting of 8 for BrilliantColor, and that is where I did most of my viewing.
The highest light output comes from the Bright color mode (not to be confused with the Bright power mode). I measured 3,688 ANSI lumens in this mode at the projector's widest zoom setting. I wouldn't recommend watching anything with this preset, though, as there is the distinct greenish tint that's often found in a projector's brightest mode. The most accurate preset out of the box in terms of grayscale and color points is Cinema, which measured 1,555 ANSI lumens. It's a significant decrease from the projector's full output, but still plenty of brightness for a room with some ambient light. I was able to watch Sunday football and do some afternoon binging with little trouble (some shadowy corners of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance could be challenging to see). The left side of the screen was noticeably darker on some scenes, however, and I measured a fairly low 56% brightness uniformity from the left side (the darkest part of the image) to the center (the brightest).
Using Portrait Displays CalMAN 2019 software, a Photo Research PR-650 spectroradiometer, and an AV Foundry VideoForge Classic pattern generator, CalMAN 2019 software, a Photo Research PR-650 spectroradiometer, and a VideoForge Classic pattern generator, I found the Cinema mode's grayscale tracking was good, although slightly cool with DeltaE values ranging from 1.7 up to 4.4. Color temperature was a little cooler (bluer) than the 6,500K target at 7,068K. Gamma was bang on: The Cinema mode gamma default setting is Standard, which equates with a 2.2 gamma, and it followed the curve almost exactly. My sample showed a slight dip at 20% brightness and a slight bump at 80%, but not enough to visually affect the image.
Still, while the Cinema mode might have the best combined grayscale of the available modes, it certainly wasn't stellar in all respects. The Rec. 709 color points had some significant issues, particularly with green and cyan, which had DeltaE values of 12.0 and 11.9 respectively. Green was undersaturated by a good bit and couldn't be fixed even with the CMS controls. The other color points measured only marginally better, ranging from 5.8 to 8.6.
When the Optoma HD39HDR is sent an HDR image, there are four picture modes to choose from - Standard, Film, Details, and Bright. I tended to stay with Standard for most of my viewing. Bright could blow out the upper end of white details and Film could look a little dark at times. The EOTF curve for all the modes was a little dim in the 40-60% mid-brightness range, and the color issues seen with SDR signals carry over to HDR. The lumen output across the four modes was identical within a small margin of error, and measured 1,691 lumens in the widest zoom setting.
1080p/SDR Viewing. For a few years I've been meaning to watch the four seasons of 12 Monkeys, partly because I loved the movie (although it's only related to the television series by story concept and character names) and partly because an actor friend performs in it. Now that it's available to stream on Hulu, I've begun season one, which is ripe with some great scenes of dark rooms and green forests suitable for test material. The 1080p detail the HD39HDR puts on screen is very good. The grime you can feel that pervades the post-outbreak year of 2035 adds to the desperate mood of the survivors and there's a good level of shadow detail in the corners of the buildings that two of the protagonists explore in some opening episodes. The green of the trees and grass was missing some vibrancy and depth, as the colors were visibly a bit off. But it wasn't enough to pull me out of the show if I wasn't actively looking for it.
I encountered a minimal amount of rainbows during my viewing. I generally am not very susceptible to seeing them, but they briefly cropped up, for example, during the scrolling credits of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Gaming is an immersive, enjoyable experience on the HD39HDR. Before you even turn on Enhanced Gaming Mode, it already has a low (for a projector) input lag of 33.5ms. For a good number of gamers, this is an acceptable amount, especially if you're spending most of your time in single-player games. But when you're going against other players in competitive eSports games like Overwatch, every millisecond counts. Turning on Enhanced Gaming Mode turns off processing adjustments like edge masking, image shift, keystone adjustment, and digital zoom (hopefully you've been able to place your projector without having to use any of these anyway), and with it the input lag drops to 16.8ms. That kind of speed is flat-panel territory. Will it automatically gift you the skills of a pro player? No, but it does mean the projector won't get in your way.
If you have an Xbox One or computer connected, the HD39HDR will display a 1080p, 120Hz signal. Gameplay is very smooth at the higher refresh rate. I didn't encounter any screen tearing at this rate and I felt my strafing and aiming accuracy improved. Enhanced Gaming Mode can be turned on at the higher refresh rate as well for an even more significant decrease in input lag— Optoma says it gets down to 8.4ms with a120 Hz signal, though my Leo Bodnar lag tester will only broadcast at 60Hz, so I'm unable to corroborate the number. However, if you do opt for the 120 Hz refresh rate you can't get HDR.
UHD/HDR Viewing. Despite the projector's need to downscale 4K/UHD signals to 1080p, the HD39HDR showed a good bit more detail with UHD signals than with 1080p content. Comparing the 1080p and 4K versions of Mindhunter on Netflix, for example, I could better see the pores in the faces of Holden and Ed Kemper as they discussed his vocation upon their first meeting at Kemper's jail in season one. The HDR added some depth and contrast, though it wasn't anything that made me say 'wow!' The higher level of detail was also evident in season 3 of The Expanse on Amazon Prime. The stellar set design of the different earth and mars ships shines through on the HD39HDR.
I had the same middling HDR experience with the Sea of Thieves videogame on my Xbox One X. When done right, HDR brings the sun and waves in this game to a whole new level, but with the Optoma it fell a little flat. The sunlight was a bit more brilliant, the white caps of the waves shimmered a little more, but I would choose to play the game at 1080p/120Hz rather than 1080p/60Hz with HDR. As mentioned, pending a promised firmware update, HDR mode deactivates the Enhanced Gaming Mode option in the menu, so you get the choice of either HDR or the input lag reduction.
I should mention that I encountered some HDMI handshake issues going in and out of 4K in my system. When there are changes in the input resolution, the Optoma goes to a blue screen while it reconnects with the signal. Occasionally the image didn't come back and I needed to press the HDMI button on the remote to reinitiate the handshake. Most often this fixed it, but if I was going through my AVR there were a rare handful of times I needed to turn the AVR off and on. I also couldn't get my 25-foot active high-speed Monoprice HDMI cable to work (though it has been working fine with other projectors coming through my living room). Ironically, the passive 25-foot cable I replaced it with had no issue. Optoma says they are looking into this, but given the distance involved and the vagaries of HDMI compatibilities with high-bandwidth signals, you may not encounter these issues at all at shorter distance, or with your specific components. Optoma recommends using a high-speed premium-certified cable up to 5 meters (16.4 feet).
3D Viewing. 3D looked very good on the HD39HDR. The depth I saw during Ant-Man's fight with Yellowjacket in Ant-Man was very engaging and there was no sign of any processing anomalies like crosstalk. There's still plenty of light output from the Optoma even in 3D, so the image didn't lose any vibrancy or detail.
The Optoma HD39HDR aims hard at the gaming market with features like incredibly low input lag and 120Hz refresh rate, while keeping the price under $1,000. With its low price tag and very high brightess, there naturally has to be some compromises, and in the case of the HD39HDR you give up full-4K resolution, a bit of color accuracy for movies (even after a pro-style calibration), and higher-performing HDR. But as a primary gaming projector with some HDR movie watching on the side, the affordable Optoma HD39HDR meets its goals handily and represents solid value.
|Review Contents:||Introduction, Features||Measurements, Connections|
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