Optoma HD25 Home Theater Projector Review
Light output. The HD25 is certainly a bright projector by home theater standards. Calibrated output in the projector's Cinema mode was 1146 lumens on our test sample, which is more than enough for home video or living room use on a 100" screen. At home theater levels of ambient light, 1146 lumens can light a 140" diagonal 1.3 gain screen at 26 fL. In other words, this projector can create a compelling home theater image on a very large screen.
The HD25 does not have too many image modes, but those it does have are all useful in one way or another. After Cinema comes Reference mode, which at 982 lumens on our test unit had slightly more accurate color and better shadow detail than Cinema mode at the cost of a few lumens. Photo mode, at 975 lumens, has a stronger blue character and measures around 6700K, making it roughly equivalent to many other projectors' Standard or Living Room modes. Finally there is Bright mode, which at 1185 lumens is not too much brighter than Cinema, but strongly pushes green and is appropriate for high ambient light viewing.
Eco lamp mode, in addition to decreasing light output by 25%, also extends lamp life from 3500 to 6000 hours. In Eco mode, Cinema on our test sample clocked in at 865 lumens, Reference at 736, Photo at 731, and Bright at 889. Eco mode is most useful for decreasing light output in darkened theater rooms, where all of the HD25's extra light is not required and can actually be detrimental.
While the HD25 has the light output required to power a large screen even in ambient light, it does not reach its 2,000 lumen specified output in any image mode. In point of fact, it never reaches even 60% of that specification. There are home theater projectors in the market that are rated at 2,000 lumens and actually produce it, and if you are working in high ambient light the extra lumens could make those projectors better options than the HD25.
BrilliantColor is a feature that boosts white light output but does not affect color light output. As a result, it can make the image look brighter overall, but can also throw an image out of balance if taken too far. It is enabled by default in all of the HD25's image modes. In Cinema mode, total color light output measured 84% of white light output, which is quite good for this class of projector. The image does not appear unbalanced or unnatural even with BrilliantColor enabled. If, on the other hand, you want to obtain perfect parity between white light output and color light output, you can reduce the BrilliantColor control to its minimum. This will reduce lumen output by 16%.
Folks using the HD25 in a home theater setting likely have light output to spare, and will be able to turn BrilliantColor off since they don't need the extra light output. If, on the other hand, you are using the HD25 in a living room or game room, BrilliantColor's additional output can be beneficial.
Contrast and black level. Like many other inexpensive DLP projectors, the HD25 cannot produce the same inky-deep black levels you'll find on more expensive home theater projectors, which typically come equipped with higher contrast light engines and automatic iris systems. However, unless you plan to watch on a very small screen (80" diagonal and smaller), the higher black level does not really become a cause for concern. Spread out onto a 100" diagonal screen or larger, the slightly high black levels are easy enough to ignore.
The HD25's gamma performance is already very good, even straight out of the box. Stock gamma matched the 2.2 reference curve with only a few slight deviations. Our test unit did not show any crushing of shadow detail or blown-out highlights or colors. The combined effect is a picture that pops with three-dimensionality and detail.
Color. In Cinema mode using the factory default settings, the HD25 measures 6400K across the entire grayscale. While this isn't the ideal 6500K, it's also better than most projectors' performance without adjustment. In order to bring the projector in line with the 6500K standard, you need to decrease green by several points (green is overemphasized by default) and red by one or two points. On our test sample, those changes resulted in a flat 6500K across the grayscale.
The HD25's white balance controls consist of a single unified slider for each color, rather than separate gain/bias controls. This limitation can make it more difficult to fine-tune the projector's color, but our test sample did not need extensive adjustment and so there was no real harm done.
As far as the color gamut is concerned, the HD25 is accurate enough that many potential buyers will not see the need to adjust color gamut, especially since those adjustments require a color meter and calibration software. If you already have the meter and the software, though, the HD25's color management system is easy to use.
Sharpness and clarity. Detail from high-definition sources came through crisply and cleanly on the HD25 without the aid of any smart-sharpening or detail enhancing features. For home theater use, our preferred Sharpness setting was 8 (on a 1-15 scale), which did not artificially soften the picture but also did not result in any edge enhancement artifacts or ringing.
|Review Contents:||The Viewing Experience||Key Features||Performance||Limitations|
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