Preview of Optoma H76
Optoma is about to make a significant competitive move that may affect prices and sales volume of a number of the elite home theater projectors selling for $10,000 and up. The Optoma H76, scheduled for official announcement next week, is expected to carry a retail price on release of just $5,999. This represents by far the lowest retail price yet for home theater projectors built around the high resolution Mustang/HD2 DLP chip (1280x720).
According to preliminary data (always subject to change) the Optoma H76 will be rated at 1000 ANSI lumens with a 2000:1 contrast ratio. The Mustang HD2 chip delivers a native HDTV 720p resolution at 1280x720. The light engine also features a 5x speed six-segment color wheel to eliminate/reduce rainbow artifacts. Also on board is the latest Pixelworks 465 scaler, which should deliver exceptionally smooth, sharp video images.
This is not a small portable dual-purpose design machine. The H76 weighs 16.5 lbs, so it is designed from scratch for exclusive home theater use. The larger form factor contributes to a lowering of the fan noise to ratings of 28 dB in normal mode, and 25 dB in economy mode. If these ratings are real, the H76 will be one of the quietest digital projectors yet produced. Economy mode increases the standard lamp life of 2000 hours to 3000 hours.
Inputs include S-video, component (1080i, 720p 480p, 480i), DVI-I, and BNC. The unit is HDCP compliant.
The H76 also features vertical lens shift and a relatively short throw lens to accommodate installation for big screen viewing in comparatively small viewing areas. Power zoom and focus, and four-way digital keystone correction are standard as are two 12-volt trigger relays.
In short, the H76 appears to be fully loaded with all of the key features you'd want in a dedicated high-end home theater projector.
At this writing there are nine high-end models on the market featuring the Mustang/HD2 DLP chip. These are the BenQ PE8700 ($9,995), InFocus Screenplay 7200 ($9,999), Toshiba TDP-MT8 ($9,999), DWIN Transvision TV3 ($10,500), Sharpvision Z10000 ($11,000), Digital Projector iVisionHD ($11,995), Yamaha DPX-1000 ($12,000), Marantz VP-12S2 ($12,500) and Sim2 HT300Plus ($14,000). The 1000 ANSI lumen and 2000:1 contrast ratings of the H76 fall squarely in the midst of this competitive pack. Thus the aggressive pricing on the new Optoma H76 undercuts the competition in the same performance class by at least $4,000 and as much as $8,000.
We will review the Optoma H76 in June. Meanwhile, buyers thinking about purchasing of one of the Mustang/HD2-based home theater projectors just noted may want to add the Optoma H76 to their list of options to consider. At this writing, the H76 is anticipated to commence shipments in July.