Optoma HD50 review
The Optoma HD50 is a full-HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) single-chip DLP projector aimed at the home-cinema and high-end gaming market.
It offers greater contrast and higher brightness than its predecessor, the HD30, along with a number of image processing and operational refinements. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a belter.
The snowy white HD50 is conveniently small, just 286 mm wide and 124 mm high. It's also light at 3.8 kg. This makes it easy to pack away should you not want a permanent ceiling or shelf mount.
The lens is offset, and there's a forward-facing exhaust which expels a lot of hot air; heavy venting is employed to help keep the projector's lamp cool, but even in its quieter Eco mode it still runs at a relatively loud 29 dB. There's no onboard sound system (unusual for a sub-£1000 model).
Optoma HD50 review: connectivity
Connections comprise two HDMI inputs, supporting CEC control and MHL for smartphones, component and composite video inputs and VGA. Also available are a 12 V trigger, RS232 and 3D sync port.
The HD50 is 2D from the box, but can be used with Optoma's optional ZF2100 Active Shutter 3D system, which is a £90 extra. It ships with a matching, backlit remote control.
Installation is relatively straightforward. There's a manual 1.5x zoom lens and vertical lens shift, to help align the image with whatever screen you're using, be it specialised fabric or white wall.
Once positioned and focused, you can opt for any of the well-judged display presets; or if you prefer, dig deeper into the various calibration tools, including a full RGB colour management system.
In truth, the HD50 looked great straight from the box, so there was no compelling reason to get our hands dirty.
Room-wise, you'll need just over 2m to cast an image 120-inches across. If you have more space available, and a pretty big wall or screen, you'll be able to go even larger.
At 2200 ANSI lumen the HD50 is bright enough to function with low-level lighting, but looks its best in full black-out conditions.
Its 1080p images were unrelentingly sharp, and while black levels weren't absolutely stygian (you'll need to pay twice as much for that), contrast is high. There was no sense that blacks were graying out.
It's possible to boost black level depth by using a Dynamic Black mode which adjusts the lamp output dynamically, based on image content. Unfortunately, this also causes the projector's cooling fan to speed up audibly from its Eco default. This can be distracting, depending on how close you sit to the projector.
Optoma HD50 review: lamp life
The lamp itself has a quoted working life of 5000 hours so you shouldn't need to contemplate changing it anytime soon. Optoma's warranty for the bulb is 1000 hours or 6 months, whichever event is first.
Colour fidelity is terrific, with deep reds and vibrant blues. The neon-lit street scenes in the Total Recall reboot on Blu-ray looked sensational.
The image-processing suite responsible has been dubbed PureEngine by Optoma. There's an UltraDetail mode designed to eek every ounce of detail from hi-def sources; and PureMotion image interpolation, which doesn't improve motion resolution per se, but imparts that smooth panning high framerate look so beloved of Peter Jackson. Our advice is keep this Low to avoid image artefacts.
Single-chip DLP projectors have long suffered with a rainbow fringing effect with high-contrast material, created by the system's spinning colour wheel. That's been all but eliminated here. Images are refreshingly clean.
The Optoma HD50 comprehensively over delivers on its upper budget price tag. HD images are exceptionally detailed, making this an ideal partner for a set-top box, Blu-ray player or next-gen games console. Operating noise is our chief remaining complaint. Overall usability is high. Consequently, the Optoma HD50 is the sub-£1k 1080p projector to beat right now.