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Optoma HD20 1080p Home Cinema / Theater Projector Owner's Review

Updated on December 14, 2012

Optoma HD20 projector front view

Hello, this is an owners review of the Optoma HD20 projector. I have had several projectors over the last few years and have lived with this one for a while now. It's a popular model as you get a 1080p picture for a low price so I thought I'd put up this guide to helping out anyone that is considering buying it or is generally interested in projectors!

This projector replaced my last one, which was a Hitachi pjtx300. I am glad to say that it was a decent upgrade. The reason I bought it is I wanted to upgrade from 720p to 1080p. On a small tv as there isn't a big difference between the two resolutions, but as the screen gets bigger and bigger, the difference between the resolutions gets more pronounced. Optoma have a few different projectors on the market, from what I've read the HD20 and the HD200x are slightly different on paper, but in real life the only difference is the colour of the case. A white case suited me though so I chose the HD20.

I am running it at approximately 100 inches diagonal screen size and at that size it looks pretty awesome. There are a couple of things to bear in mind if you're thinking of buying this projector though, the first is that it is a DLP model. There is a difference between DLP and LCD, the main differences are as follows.

Firstly DLP has the potential to be a better picture. The picture tends to be a bit more vibrant and pop out of the screen a bit more. The downside though is that you have limited placement options. This can be a real deal breaker, as if you don't put the projector in the right place, then the picture you get won't be the right size, so you need to get this right. You also don't get any horizontal lens shift, so if you want to move the picture, then you can only move it up and down and not left and right. Again this means that you need to get it lined up properly. With an LCD projector, you can just shift the picture across.

The second thing to bear in mind is that some people suffer from something called the rainbow effect. This effect is when you see rainbow type colours flickering across the screen and only happens with DLP projectors. This usually happens if you move your eyes quickly from one side of the screen to another. The thing is though, I haven't ever had rainbow effect and nobody that's ever seen my projector has either. I think it's one of those things that you can look out for and make yourself have, but if you don't know about it, then you'll probably be ok. That's my experience of it anyway. It's still probably best to see a DLP projector in action before spending the money though, in case you are one of those people that do suffer from it. Don't try to induce it though as once you spot it, apparently you can train yourself to start spotting it and then you'll see it all the time!

HD20 image. Nice eh?!

Anyway the good thing about this projector is that the picture when calibrated right is really good. I have made the most of my picture by calibrating the brightness contrast etc with a calibration disc (well worth getting by the way) and I'm running it in a fully blacked out room, so it looks as good as it can. Something I read about when I was researching this projector is that the black levels aren't very good. Well I haven't seen every other projector out there in the world, but in my opinion that is very overstated, when you see the picture in the flesh there is no problem with black levels at all. The colours and the picture really pop out of the screen and it looks great. It is very sharp as well, which is a nice bonus.

One thing that I don't like so much is the fan noise. This is apparently 29db. Optoma describe this as whisper quiet, but I can only imagine that they must only know that drunken type of whispering, where you're basically doing it loud enough so that everyone can hear. I did this at a party once while talking to my friend about a girl there, unfortunately she and everyone else there heard exactly what I was saying, which was embarrassing to say the least, especially when she started shouting at me. Anyway, it's definitely audible, which is a bit of a pain when you're sitting right under it. Saying that, I only really tend to notice the fan noise when I first start the projector up and I'm choosing a film, as soon as the film starts and I'm into it, I tend to not hear or notice the fan any more. But this is something to be aware of, it's not silent.

Optoma HD20 rear view

As you can see, the projector has two hdmi ports, which isn't a huge amount, but as most people tend to run their kit through an AV receiver, then it's usually enough. I run my xbox, popcorn hour and bluray player into my receiver, then one hdmi from the receiver into the projector.

It has other features like the 12v trigger socket, so if you're flash, you can wire in an electric screen and have that drop down from the ceiling when you turn the projector on, to wild applause from your friends. I don't use that personally, but I like the idea. You also get VGA and Component in, so you can wire in your old consoles etc if you feel the need, although personally I do it all through the receiver.

I've put a couple of pictures up, but you can't really get an idea of what a projector looks like without seeing it in the flesh really. But it's nice to look at pictures anyway and you can see that the black levels are perfectly respectable and the colours really jump out at you.

I have put some recommended settings below as well, after a proper calibration, this is what came out. Although all projectors come out slightly, so they may not be a perfect match for yours, they will probably suit you well if you have or get this projector, but you may need to adjust the brightness/contrast slightly to suit your room. This is where the calibration disc comes in useful.

HD20 recommended settings

mode: user
contrast: 47
brightness: 36
color: 46
tint: 49
sharpness: 7
noise reduction: 0
gamma: standard
curve type: 3
offset: -1
color temp: warm
red gain: 8
green gain: 4
blue gain: 1
red bias: 1
green bias: 1
blue bias: 1
lamp bright mode: off

In summary I'd say that it's definitely a decent buy, especially nowadays as the price has come down from when I bought it. If you're going to get one, then do it justice by giving it a proper room and a decent sound system. You can use the Optoma distance calculator provided below to check that you can fit it into your room and get the size of screen from it that you want. The HD20 and all of Optoma's other projectors are on there so you can have a look through different models if you want to see if they would fit if the HD20 wouldn't.

I hope this was a useful review as it is from an owners, rather than a sellers point of view.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.



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