A perfect all-rounder?
What is the Optoma HD27?The Optoma HD27 is a single-chip 1080p DLP projector aimed at the home entertainment market and offers large screen gaming, sport, movies and 3D viewing. Optoma also boast that the HD27 matches the colour standards for Rec.709 HD image quality thanks to its new colour wheel technology. This will all sound very familiar if you have been reading our recent reviews of the BenQ projectors such as the W2000 and W3000 Rec.709 models.
Budget level DLP machines in the past have struggled to provide colours wide enough to match the content we watch on them, so colours have always been undersaturated and in the case of green, usually very odd looking due to large hue errors. The content we watch is mastered in what is called Rec.709 - which states what the primary and secondary colours should look like along with white (D65). If your display, be that a TV or projector, is capable of producing colours that match the standard, you are getting the most accurate viewing possible. So the fact that Optoma is boasting Rec.709 coverage at this price point on a DLP projector is big news and one factor we will of course be testing fully.
Design, Connections and Control
Given the price point you have to accept that the materials used will be befitting of that budget. However the HD27, with all the design flair of a white plastic brick, is well screwed together and feels sturdy which will help it perform the portable duties such projectors fulfil. It should stand up well to being taken around to your mate’s house for large screen gaming or sports viewing, or set up and put away regularly as a big event display in the family home. Optoma have also been clever in making sure the chassis is smooth and that the lens doesn’t protrude out; stopping any issues with items being broken off or damaged while being transported around.
The lens is positioned to the right side of the front plate with the hot air exhaust to the left front and side. The lens has a jagged focus ring that sits out from the chassis body slightly so it can be used without being damaged during transport. Focus is a manual affair and the zoom control is hidden in a recess on the top plate behind the lens. It is a slider which increases or decreases the zoom amount from side to side. Below the lens on the front panel is a grey screw stand for adjusting the height of the projector from the front. On the top plate of the HD27 are menu and access controls should you misplace the remote control.
Moving to the rear of the Optoma HD27 we find that the choice of connections is minimalist to say the least. Gone are the PC/VGA and legacy component/composite inputs and instead we are given two HDMI 1.4a slots with MHL available on HDMI 2, a USB port for service access and charging, along with a 3D sync, 12Volt trigger and an audio out 3.5mm slot. As most modern sources use HDMI the lack of legacy inputs shouldn’t really be an issue and two HDMI should be enough for most systems where the video switching is most likely done in an AV Receiver.
Controlling the HD27 is a white and grey plastic remote that is shaped to fit in the hand easier. The keys are large making them easy to find and there’s a blue backlight to help in dark rooms. The main keys for the menu and getting around the menu system are found in the central skinny section of the remote body. Direct source keys can be found at the bottom of the controller with direct picture access keys towards the top. Our biggest gripe with the remote control was that it didn’t bounce off our projection screen back to the projector – the first time this has ever happened with any projector remote. No matter what we tried we just couldn’t get it to work other than directly pointed at the projector and it made operating the unit a real pain – especially calibration.
Yet another budget DLP that can reproduce Rec.709 colours – at last
Features and Spec
This is a single chip DLP projector that boasts Rec.709 colour performance at a budget price point. Optoma don’t say how they achieve this with the HD27 but based on competing models we would guess that there is a 6 speed, RGBRGB colour wheel which has accurate filters and a coating to help the colour wheel produce wide enough colours to achieve the Rec.709 standard. That is unheard of in a £629 DLP projector and the closest we have seen is the £800 BenQ W2000 and £1,100 W3000 units reviewed recently. Most other budget DLP models have restricted colour gamuts that cannot get wide enough to match Rec.709. We will be measuring and testing the colour performance below.
Other features include a rudimentary dynamic iris control called ‘Dynamic Black Technology’ which is pretty obvious in use and rather slow. It really struggles in mixed content scenes and overall we didn’t see any viable improvements in the black level performance with it in use, so left it switched off. The black levels on the HD27 are exactly the same as every other budget DLP projector and the weakest link. Shadow details are non-existent under around 20ire and blacks are a dark grey block with no subtle gradations. This is really obvious when used in a bat cave cinema room but not as bad when used in a normal living room with light coloured walls and ceilings with the curtains pulled, as the black floor of the room is raised sufficiently to reduce the weak black levels of the projector from being as obvious. It doesn’t solve the issue and add back shadow details, but it does allow the other attributes of the image to shine through and look more consistent when it comes to contrast and dynamic range.
When it comes to bulb life Optoma are claiming that you should achieve 6500hrs in Eco mode which they claim is the same as watching one 2 hour movie every day for the next 9 years. They don’t say how dim things will be by that stage though. Realistically you should get to the half-life of that time with sufficiently good brightness left in the UHP bulb. A replacement will set you back around £140 at the time of writing (October 2016). We did find that even in Eco mode the HD27 is not the quietest projector around and is loud enough to be distracting if sat close to the unit. Other feature highlights need you to buy additional equipment such as 3D specs for the 144Hz rapid refresh 3D mode (you can use other makes of DLP link specs). Plus if you want wireless Full HD capabilities so you can get away from long HDMI cable runs, you can purchase the WHD200 unit to achieve this. Optoma also claim that the projector is ISFccc certified with day and night modes, but we were not able to confirm this or find the menus to switch the feature on.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsWith the big boast being the ability to reproduce Rec.709 colours we were really interested to see just how well the Optoma HD27 performs out-of-the-box. We used the Reference picture mode and Warm colour temperature selection with a gamma setting of 2.4 and the lamp in Eco mode. We set the contrast and brightness for our room and then measured the results.
As you can see with the greyscale (top left) we have too much red and green in the track from 20ire all the way up to 100ire and a real deficit of blue energy across the same scale, which results in an obvious yellow tint to images on screen with everything looking too warm. This is reflected in the high DeltaE errors which again point to visible issues on screen, but our gamma did OK, tracking close to the desired 2.4 point for dark room viewing.
When we move to the colour gamut tracking (top right) the errors seen in the greyscale are reflected here with white towards yellow which in turn pulls green and magenta in the direction. Red is oversaturated from 25% right up to 100% saturation and there are a few other errors in the CIE chart, however taking in to account the greyscale is causing many of these issues the fact the HD27 is reaching the Rec.709 gamut is a real plus point for this budget DLP. By correcting the greyscale we should see most of these errors disappear. For those who will only use the out-of-the-box settings using the cool colour temperature selection has a little too much blue, but brings the gamut errors in so they are not noticeable with onscreen material and the yellow tint in the Warm mode is gone. It will be easier for most users to live with a little blue in the greyscale and get the benefits of the gamut performance. So, let’s see how the HD27 looks when calibrated.
Calibrated SettingsAs always we used our Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software to calibrate and test the HD27 projector fully.
We found the colour temperature controls (RGB Gain/Bias) to be a little coarse to use and as such just aimed to get the DeltaE errors and tracking as good as we could. As you can see (top left) we managed to get errors well below the visible threshold and the greyscale is tracking well. Gamma also did well with just a little dip at 20 and 30ire but this didn’t affect the image quality at all on screen. Just correcting this area of the image should drastically improve the colour gamut results.
And that is just what has happened. As you can see (top right) green and magenta are now tracking without the hue error caused by the greyscale. With a little tweaking using the Colour Management System (CMS) we also got rid of the over saturation with the red tracking and balanced the gamut tracking across the board. One area not shown in the above graph is luminance (brightness) which was also perfect. Overall for a £629 projector the colour and greyscale performance once calibrated is superb.
Picture QualityAs with all DLP projectors at this price point we can’t expect reference level blacks and they are the weak link at this level. That means in a bat cave the blacks are a light grey with no shadow details under around 20ire which ends up with blocks of black where there should be a more layered image. However as the HD27 is a home entertainment model and not a strict home cinema machine; it is intended to be used in normal living rooms with white walls and ceiling, thus raising the black floor to a level where the weak blacks of the HD27 are not as noticeable. It is also designed to be used in rooms with some ambient light present so again the lack of dynamic range and contrast is not a major issue in such surroundings.
The first thing we noted with the HD27 was that the rainbow effect was more noticeable than on the BenQ projectors we were reviewing at the same time. Subtitles and other bright edged objects in the image would suffer slightly from the effect being present. This is a personal issue as some people are more prone to seeing it than others, so we would recommend you demo the HD27 if it might be an issue for you or members of your family. While it was more noticeable we also have to point out that it wasn’t completely distracting and only appeared with certain image items. Brightness from the HD27 is good with around 900 lumens in the best out-of-the-box settings and calibrated on a 110” screen.
The highlights of DLP are certainly motion and sharpness and that was the case here with excellent video processing and motion resolution adding to the sharpness of the image. Film material at 24p is also correctly played back with no induced judder and image blur is normal and natural. The real step up here at the price point are those accurate colours which adds a really nice cinematic touch to skin tones and an accuracy to content being watched. Our demo favourites all looked present and correct when it came to image accuracy with no obvious off hues or over saturation present. Only the lack of dynamic range and overall contrast lets the side down slightly, but then again this is not designed for reference cinema images.
Gaming will be fairly slick with an input lag of 42ms using our Leo Bodnar tester and with great motion it should be an excellent big screen experience. We also found 3D films to be utterly brilliant as they are with most DLP projectors. You have to buy the emitter and glasses (sold as a starter kit and kindly sent to us by Optoma for the review) but once set up 3D films become the major strong point of this projector. It certainly fulfils the home entertainment role and we really can’t find any major downsides to the picture quality within that remit.
- Excellent colour accuracy to Rec.709
- Good brightness and motion
- Excellent 3D performance
- Good image sharpness from the lens
- Excellent build quality
- Good video processing and input lag
- Superb value for money
- Some obvious rainbow effect with certain material
- Mediocre black levels and shadow detail
- Noisy even in Eco mode
- No 3D glasses or emitter provided
Optoma HD27 DLP Projector ReviewAs an all-in-one home entertainment projector for gaming, big screen sports, movies and 3D the HD27 certainly manages to perform the tasks with a nice degree of quality and accuracy. The fact it can meet the Rec.709 colour standard at the price point is a major achievement and added to good brightness levels, great motion and excellent 3D it is an absolute steal for the money. It does suffer a little from rainbow effects so it will be worth getting a demo to see if that affects you and of course DLP black levels are pretty poor at this price point. However given the intended use of this projector and the types of environments it will be used in we don’t really see those as major negatives at all.
It is stunning to think about the level of performance you can now get at the £600 and below price point when it comes to these types of projectors and it is probably something more people will take a risk on owning. Its build quality is sturdy and will handle being moved around and it performs really well with gaming and big screen sports. But the biggest plus point here is the 3D film performance that is stunningly good (and probably better than our £5,700 reference projector!).
Given the price point and performance within the home entertainment remit we feel the HD27 is certainly worthy of a Best Buy badge and should be on your demo list if you’re looking for a budget all-rounder.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money9
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