In order for a projector to be optimized for home theater usage it must have similar characteristics to the HDTV counterparts like the 1080p resolution and optimal brightness, contrast, and color settings. There are many TVs and home theater projectors that meet these requirements and satisfy their target market, but not all of these models are affordable.
Unlike some of the mainstream manufacturers, Optoma is a company that is more focused on bringing projectors to all kinds of people. They make projectors for businesses as well as highly compact pocket projectors. They also make projectors intended for the budget consumers. The existence of the Optoma HD20 proves that a 1080p home theater projector can cost below $1,000. What is striking is that the Optoma HD20 actually performs well in some areas.
Latest Update : The Optoma HD20 is now on sale at Amazon
One area in the Optoma HD20 that is a bit laid back is the design. Those that are used to traditional projectors should not be bothered too much because it looks similar to the business projectors that are meant for hooking up to PCs. The Optoma HD20 is only available in white and does have a curvy feel so it does not look as cheap as the non-HD projectors.
The back of the projector features two HDMI ports just like the 2010 high-end home theater projectors. It also has the component and VGA ports doubling as a nice projector for PC business and multimedia usage.
It is also one of the lighter and smaller projectors weighing just about 6 and a half pounds. Although it does not come with a carrying case, it should fit in some laptop or tote bags. For a small device, a significant amount of power is packed in the HD20, but it still manages to run at manageable noise levels. Fan noise can hardly be heard on low lamp mode and the high lamp mode is quite exceptional.
The noise really kicks in when the ImageAI feature is used. The higher-end home theater projectors run a bit more quiet, the produced noise is reasonable for its lumen output and cost.
“We bought this projector about 3 months ago and have been using it in our downstairs home theatre on a 94″ screen. We have a very dark room with no windows; so this is perfect down there. Picture looks great and vibrant on the lowest light setting. HDMI input and Component inputs were great additions to this 1080p projector. We ceiling mounted it and ran the cables through conduit to a media closet. Couldn’t be happier :D The only down side to this projector is its manual focus/zoom. But for the costs; I’m willing to reach up and adjust every once in a while. If you are reading this, do the right thing and BUY This already, its a purchase you won’t regret.” – J.T.Hawkins (MO,USA)
The Optoma HD20 does an excellent job with the brightness especially for an entry-level device. With a max of 1700 ANSI Lumens, watching with room lights looks good and action-packed programs like sports look great in high-definition and look even better when the “Bright” mode is used. This mode produces a worthy 954 Lumens while the regular Cinema mode stands at a 633 Lumens average. As long as there is some ambient light available, 100 to 135-inch screens should be feasible. Even when the low lamp mode is active, 505 Lumens is not bad considering the fact that it increases the life of the lamp. Optoma advertises the contrast rating as 4000:1, but the contrast performance compares nicely with the older and more advanced 1080p projectors.
Regarding color performance, the Optoma HD20 is on the weaker end when used for the first time. Fortunately, the colors can be calibrated with ease and after some experimenting, the HD20 can be optimized for HD gaming or sports. Once it is properly calibrated, colors are fairly vibrant and rich. In addition to the easy calibrating, other options are easily accessible with its hierarchical layout.
Whether or not adjustments were made, the HD20 does a good job in keeping the digital noise to a minimal. Projectors that nearly cost twice as much have the same benefits and those benefits include smoother images and lesser distractions when viewing for prolonged periods of time.
The problem with low-cost projectors is the costly lamps and the Optoma HD20 uses replaceable lamps that last longer rated to 3,000 hours in high lamp mode. An additional 1,000 hours is achievable when using low lamp mode. With these lamps priced below $300, the HD20 is a projector that really saves consumers money.
The Optoma HD20 needs to cut a few corners to achieve the low price tag and that means that some aspects of the projector are a bit weak such as the black levels and image sharpness. The remote control takes some time to get used to also, but the low price and compact design makes this a great HD projector to try out for people that never watched high-definition content in a projector before.
More user reviews:
• “I have just put 100 hours on this projector. This thing is amazing. Picture quality is excellent- My Family and I find ourselves watching this more than any of our lcd TVs. I strongly considered some of the more expensive projectors. I even went to a HD EXPO that had tons of displays for projectors with all their sales reps trying to sell me their product. After looking at many higher priced units I came home and order this baby off of Amazon. I believe I made the right decision. I also bought a 120 inch elite screen from Amazon and it too looks amazing. This projector is very easy to use as well. My 4 year old son knows how to turn on and off. If you want a very very good projector buy this one. I have a buddy who spent 5K on his projector 5 years ago and this projector out performs his in every aspect.” – C.E.Carroll (TX,USA)
• “I am fortunate to have purchased a house that had an unfinished 300 sq ft basement that I immediately identified as my new media room. I pre-wired for 7.1 surround sound and then began the search for my projector. After weeks of searching, I came across the HD20. The few reviews I could find swayed me to purchase (along with the <$1000 tag). I am completely happy. The small lag for the signal to show is not a big deal. The fact that there is no auto focus is also not a big deal because once you’ve set the focus, you should be good to go. Luckily the size of my theater room keeps me from noticing any problems with the heat it puts off. Again, this is a REALLY good purchase and I recommend to anyone who is interested!” – M.Hammond (TX,USA)
• “I bought the HD20 to use as my main TV. I mounted it on the ceiling and our chairs are 14 feet back. I made a 80″ diag screen out of smooth particle board and painted it with flat white paint, and a black boarder made out of milled 2×4’s. I set it up in the basement, in a room the was designed as a home theater. I have a Dish-HD receiver. I’m very happy with the projector. All I can do is compare it with the plasma sets at Best Buy. The picture is super sharp and colors are great (with a HD signal). I don’t see any motion blur/artifacts that I see on LCD sets. I run it at the “low” lamp setting and it is very bright with one 13w CFL lamp in the back of the room by us. My wife can easily read if she wants to. The pixels (screen door effect) are first noticeable at about 1.5-2 feet from the screen. Bottom line is the money. The biggest TV at Best Buy is a 65″ plasma at $2700. The HD20 was $1000 at Amazon with free shipping and my screen is bigger at 80″. I think I made the right move.” – D.Janecke (WI,USA)
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