At $999 street, the Optoma HD37 is a step up in price from the least expensive 1080p competition. It offers some conveniences, most notably a modest vertical lens shift, to justify the cost. But its main appeal is image quality suitable for a traditional home theater combined with both a brightness level that makes it a good choice for home entertainment and a lag time that makes it suitable for gamers.
One of the HD37's extras is support for ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) Certified day and night viewing modes. To take advantage of them, however, you need an ISF-certified technician to calibrate the projector, which will typically cost $250 or more. Optoma readily agrees that few people who are buying this inexpensive a projector are likely to get it calibrated, but you can if you want to.
Even without calibration, the HD37 scores well on image quality. Colors don't pop in theater-dark lighting the way they would with a high contrast ratio, but they're in the range of good to near excellent. And keep in mind that a higher contrast ratio doesn't do much with lights on. Ambient light in a living room will swamp out dark shades on screen, effectively lowering the contrast ratio in any case.
More generally, the projector handles color well. Skin tones and memory colors, like grass and blue sky, were well within the range of acceptable with all predefined modes in my tests. Color balance is excellent, with impressively neutral grays at all levels in all predefined modes.
I saw a slight loss of shadow detail in the most demanding scenes, but it was so minor that if you don't know what the scene should look like, you won't notice it. I also saw some moderately obvious noise with movies on DVD even with noise reduction at its top setting. I didn't see the problem with movies on Blu-ray discs.
For 3D, the projector delivers all the same strengths as with 2D for those aspects of image quality that both share, and it does a good job with issues specific to 3D as well. I saw no crosstalk and only a slight hint of 3D-related motion artifacts on scenes that tend to cause these problems.
For both 2D and 3D, I saw rainbow artifacts rarely enough in most scenes that it's hard to believe anyone would be bothered by them. The one exception was a black-and-white clip, where they showed too often for comfortable viewing.
One other potential issue is that if you're sensitive to fan noise you won't want to sit too close to the HD37. Optoma rates the noise at 29 dB in Eco mode. I didn't notice any obvious difference between Eco and Bright lamp settings, but noise is noticeably louder and a higher pitch in High Altitude mode, which Optoma recommends using above 5000 feet. Even in Eco mode, the whooshing white noise is audible ten feet from the projector. On the other hand, with the speaker volume set to a comfortable level, I didn't notice fan noise even from three feet away when watching movies.
|Review Contents:||Intro||Set Up||Key Features||Performance|
|Limitations and Conclusion|
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