Optoma TW610ST WXGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$1,699 MSRP Discontinued

Aside from its short throw, which helps it stand out from the crowd, the Optoma TW610ST has the distinction of being both a fairly typical 1280x800 DLP-based projector by today's leading edge standards, and a distinct improvement over what counted as typical not very long ago.

Among the leading edge features that you won't find in most older models, including many that are still available, is an HDMI port, 3D ready capability, and a 3100 lumen rating for brightness (although the measured brightness was a bit lower on our tests). The combination, along with better than par data image quality, helps make the TW610ST a particularly attractive choice for $999.

Advantages

Short Throw. The advantage of a short throw lens, of course, is that it lets you project a large image from a short distance. This is particularly useful in small rooms and in situations where a standard throw projector would have to sit far enough from the screen that it would be hard to avoid shadows, whether from objects or from people in the audience.

Optoma says that at the 1280x800 native resolution with 16:10 aspect ratio, the TW610ST can throw an image ranging from 44" diagonal at 1.6 feet to 223" diagonal at 8.2 feet. Our review tests were consistent with the claim, with a 69" diagonal image from 2.5 feet and a 79" diagonal image from 3 feet.

Suitably Bright. We measured the TW610ST's brightness in its brightest mode at 2423 lumens. That is a 22% shortfall from its 3100 lumen rating. However, even 2423 lumens is more than bright enough for the 79" diagonal image we used for our tests to stand up to the level of ambient light in most offices. For dimmer lighting, the projector also has a selection of other presets, with brightness levels as low as 576 lumens.

Reasonably good brightness uniformity. Short throw projectors sometimes have problems maintaining uniform brightness across the entire screen, so it's not unusual that the TW610ST scored a relatively poor 61% for brightness uniformity. That's enough to see the difference on a solid white or bright colored screen in our tests. However, the brightest and dimmest areas were far enough apart, and the change was gradual enough, so that the difference wasn't at all visible with the screen broken up by text, icons, or other objects. As a practical matter, that translates to acceptable brightness uniformity, despite the score.

 

Excellent data image quality. Although the TW610ST's data image quality isn't perfect, it's good enough to call excellent. Colors in our tests were bright and vibrant, including yellow, which many DLP projectors tend to shift to a mustard color; color balance was superb, with no hint of a color tint in any shade of gray; and black text on a white background was crisp and highly readable down to the smallest sizes we test with.

We saw some slight pixel jitter over an analog connection, but this isn't a serious issue. The key word is slight, it only shows on screens that tend to bring out jitter, and you can get rid of the problem by using a digital connection instead.

Good connectivity. Optoma includes a basic set of connectors on the TW610ST back panel, along with some extras, most notably an HDMI 1.3 port for a computer or video source. On the basic list are two VGA inputs for computers or component video, one pass-through monitor port, and both an S-Video and a composite video port. For audio, there are three miniplugs for stereo input, stereo output, and a microphone, along with a single set of stereo RCA phono plugs that are paired with the video connectors. Also included are LAN and RS232 ports for controlling the projector and a USB port for controlling the computer mouse with the remote.

Potentially portable. Although Optoma doesn't include a carrying case with the TW610ST, it's light enough, at just 6.9 pounds, to carry with you if you need to, but heavy enough so you probably won't want it as a constant traveling companion. On the other hand, it is certainly light enough to carry room to room, either by hand or on a cart.

Better than par audio. The TW610ST's two 5 watt stereo speakers deliver better audio than most projectors in this weight class, with easily enough volume for a small conference room. If you need more than that, of course, the audio output makes it easy to connect to an external sound system.

Better than usual warranty. Optoma includes a full 3 year warranty for the projector, which is longer than the norm. In addition, during the first year, Optoma will send a replacement unit immediately, although it picks up the shipping cost in only one direction. During the last two years, the warranty is for repair only rather than replacement, but Optoma will provide a loaner if you want one. The one year warranty on the lamp is also longer than most.

 

Limitations

Usable, but unimpressive, video quality. As with most data projectors we review, the TW610ST doesn't handle video very well overall. It maintains shadow detail better than most data projectors, but I saw some posterization (sudden changes in shading that should change gradually) in faces on demanding scenes that tend to cause posterization.

Obvious rainbow artifacts for video. Most inexpensive, commercial/business class DLP projectors can produce rainbow artifacts, with light areas breaking up into little red, green, and blue rainbows when you shift your gaze or an object moves on screen. These artifacts tend to show up more often when viewing full motion video rather than static images. Some people see them more easily than others.

When viewing video on the TW610ST, they showed up often enough so that anyone who's sensitive to them will likely find them annoying. That alone makes the TW610ST best reserved for only short video clips if you use video at all.

Auto-Iris lag. The TW610ST doesn't have an actual auto iris, but it uses an electronic equivalent to get the same effect, making dark images darker and bright images brighter. Unfortunately, as with many mechanical auto-irises, Optoma's electronic equivalent has a noticeable lag between the image appearing on screen and the system adjusting to the new brightness level. Some people may find this annoying, although it isn't much of a problem since you can disable it. It is on by default for both data and video, but you can go into the menus to turn it off.

Limited 3D. The TW610ST is 3D ready, which could become useful as more 3D material becomes available. On the other hand, as with most 3D-ready projectors today, the TW610ST's 3D is highly limited.

One drawback is that you need enough pairs of DLP-Link glasses (currently $70 each) for your audience, which could be a significant investment. And since the glasses need batteries, if you have an audience of, say, 20 students in classroom, replacing batteries could become something of a chore. Being 3D ready could help protect the TW610ST from becoming obsolete, but as a practical matter you may or may not ever actually use the projector for 3D.

Conclusion

As a data projector, the Optoma TW610ST offers lots of strengths and no important weaknesses. Its balance of brightness, brightness uniformity, good data image quality, good connectivity, and better than usual warranty far outweigh issues like the auto-iris lag that you can easily eliminate by turning the feature off. Even the video quality is good enough for the kind of short video clips you're likely to use a data projector for. If you're reviewing current options for a bright, short throw, 1280x800 data projector, the TW610ST belongs on your short list.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma TW610ST projector page.

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