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Optoma HD20

*Est. $700
Reviewed
May 2013
by ConsumerSearch
Optoma HD20

Cheap home theater projector

Pros
  • Very bright
  • Good color
  • Lots of connections
Cons
  • Blacks could be darker
  • Placement in a room can be difficult

Bottom Line

The Optoma HD20's is a top performer among video projectors in its price range, with great picture quality, good colors right out of the box, and black levels deep enough to please most viewers. Brightness is high, making the HD20 is a good choice for use in the living room. Placement options are somewhat limited, however, and some users may perceive the rainbow effect caused by this DLP projector's spinning color wheel.

Image Quality

Terrific picture quality in a sub-$1000 video projector. Most reviewers are impressed by the quality of the image projected by the Optoma HD20. It produces a "clear, bright, noise-free image with vibrant color and good dynamic range," says Bill Livolsi at ProjectorCentral.com. Like all home theater projectors in this price range, blacks won't be very deep at all. The HD20 lacks an automatic iris feature, which works in step with image content to improve apparent black levels. That is replaced here with an ImageAI feature that is intended to serve the same function, but performance is spotty at best. Livolsi complains that it is very slow and can be distracting."

The HD20 is bright enough to work in most viewing settings, including a family room with some ambient light -- a situation in which Art Feierman at ProjectorReviews.com notes that deep black levels would be wasted anyway. A few signal-processing bobbles are noted with certain content, but none rises to the level of deal killer -- again considering this home theater projector's price class. Of course, since this is a DLP projector, some sensitive viewers may notice the typical DLP rainbow effect.

Features

Bare bones. Continuing a theme, the best feature the Optoma HD20 has is its small price tag. The company does not even throw an HDMI cable into the box. It does throw in a backlit remote control, but that is the source of a somewhat unusual complaint: "It is bright," Tom Andry at Audioholics.com writes. "And by bright, we mean so bright that you have to give your eyes a chance to readjust to a dark environment after looking at it. It actually hindered the calibration processes with the amount of light it gave off."

Setup and Use

Not the most flexibility. Due to limited zoom range (1.2x) and lack of lens shift, finding the perfect spot for the Optoma HD20 can be a challenge. Most say the HD20 is on the noisy side, too. "While it wasn't a problem during most viewing, quiet passages were definitely interrupted by the noise," writes Andry.

An auto-source function that cycles through inputs to find the active one is fast -- to fast according to at least one report. Andry says that it gave insufficient time to allow HDCP handshaking to take place without moving on -- a problem, of course, if you plan to feed the projector a signal via HDMI. Fortunately, there's an override that lets you switch sources manually instead. On the upside, Livolsi reports a straightforward, common-sense user menu that easy to navigate.

The only really solid gripe we found in terms of user experience is the lack of live tech support. You have to submit a web form and wait for a timely response. Reports of exactly how well this works are mixed -- some users report prompt, helpful service while others are still waiting to hear back. The one-year limited parts and labor warranty and 90-day lamp warranty are fairly standard in this price range.

Value

Great bang for the buck. Even at its original near-$1000 price point, the Optoma HD20 drew raves for value. Ongoing costs are also on the low side thanks to the DLP projector's estimated 3,000- to 4,000-hour lamp life. Livolsi writes "if you were to put a quarter in a jar every time you watched a movie, you would have more than enough money for a new lamp when the time came to purchase a replacement."

If you have a bigger budget, the Epson Home Cinema 8350 (*Est. $1,300) delivers great colors and deeper blacks, and it's easier to place in a room. No other projector at or near the same price point as the HD20 can deliver a 1080p image that looks as good.

Where To Buy
Optoma HD25-LV 1080p 3200 Lumen Full 3D DLP Home Theater Projector with HDMI

 
Buy new: $2,499.00 $1,048.00   74 Used from $889.99

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 

Our Sources

1. ProjectorCentral.com

Review Credibility: Excellent This review does a great job of getting to the heart of the matter regarding the Optoma HD20 video projector. Bill Livolsi finds some shortcomings, such as less-than-perfect black levels and installation challenges. But these drawbacks are tempered by picture quality that's solid overall, and an unbeatable price for a 1080p projector. As a result, the HD20 earns a Highly Rated award.

Review: Optoma HD20, Bill Livolsi, Aug. 28, 2009

2. ProjectorReviews.com

Review Credibility: Excellent Art Feierman's report on the Optoma HD20 rambles a bit, but once he launches into a discussion of the Optoma HD20's image quality he offers a lot of useful information and comparative screenshots. Black levels produced by the HD20 are a minus, but color performance is a plus. Feierman's bottom-line assessment is that at its price, "you definitely get what you pay for with the HD20, and then some." He gives it a Hot Product designation.

Review: Optoma HD20 Projector Review, Art Feierman, August 2009

3. PCMag.com

Review Credibility: Very Good M. David Stone calls the Optoma HD20 a "game changer" for delivering a high-quality image at a previously unheard of price. Shortcomings in bench tests are noted, but those largely don't show up in hands-on viewing except with standard-definition (480i) signals. Rainbow effect is seen, but it appears less often than with many other DLP projectors.

Review: Optoma HD20, M. David Stone, Aug. 21, 2009

4. ConsumerReports.org

Review Credibility: Very Good As always, Consumer Reports is a valuable source of independent testing results -- but their coverage of home theater projectors isn't as thorough as we'd wish. The Optoma HD20 is tested and assigned ratings for HD picture quality, SD picture quality and ease of use.

Review: Optoma HD20, Editors of Consumer Reports, Not dated

5. About.com

Review Credibility: Very Good About.com guide Robert Silva names the Optoma HD20 as one of the best DLP home theater projectors, then launches into this more detailed review. He says the HD20 handles deinterlacing and scaling well; noise reduction and rendering fine detail, not so well. He awards it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it a "great entry-level video projector."

Review: Optoma HD20 DLP Video Projector - Review, Robert Silva, Not dated

6. Audioholics.com

Review Credibility: Very Good Tom Andry says he is amazed by the value of the Optoma HD20. He adds that the picture quality is impressive given the price, with good brightness and well saturated colors.

Review: Optoma HD20 DLP Projector Review, Tom Andry, Feb. 26, 2010

7. Amazon.com

Review Credibility: Very Good Nearly 300 Amazon.com users review the Optoma HD20, giving it an overall rating of 4.3 stars. A handful of owners report issues with their projector or with the company's customer service.

Review: Optoma HD20 High Definition 1080p DLP Home Theater Projector (Grey), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2013

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