What is the Optoma HD27?
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Review
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 levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
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