If you're looking for an entry-level projector without a lot of frills, reviewers say the 720p Optoma HD66 is a good, though not quite perfect, choice. Its picture quality is fine for the price, with excellent colors and decent blacks. But there are some questions about the HD66's durability, and a few reviewers dislike what they term misleading advertising about its 3D capability.
Good image at a great price. The Optoma HD66 is a 720p DLP projector, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to full 1080p projectors that cost only a little bit more. While experts say that the difference between 720p and 1080p are not pronounced in TV sets with screen sizes of less than 50 inches, it can be quite evident at the much larger screen sizes that this projector is capable of.
Otherwise, reviewers say, the HD66 offers a very good picture given the price. Blacks, while not the deepest around, are still pretty good, with good shadow detail. Colors are excellent, especially after some user adjustments.
"Overall, I was quite impressed with the picture from the Optoma HD66. The dark detail wasn't superb but the colors were well saturated without a hint of rainbow effect. The picture, overall, is crisp and clean especially with HD content," writes Tom Andry at Audioholics.com.
Bill Livolsi of ProjectorCentral.com writes that the Optoma HD66 cranked out as many as 2,199 lumens using a laptop signal; it generated 1,979 lumens with 720p content in bright mode. That level of brightness may be useful for viewing in a family room with ambient light, but you'll want to tweak the settings for lower light (Livolsi got it down to 582 lumens) if you're in a light-controlled room.
Livolsi also notes some noise in "solid-colored areas of medium saturation" but says that after some calibration, the HD66 "has bright, vibrant, well-balanced color that is perfectly suitable for home theater use."
Not so 3D after all. The HD66 is marketed as a 3D projector, but reviewers call that out as misleading -- you can only use the Optoma HD66 to watch 3D while gaming, and only then with the addition of a fairly powerful computer to power the game.
Patience required. Andry praises the HD66 for its "tons of setup features" and "full suite of calibration controls" -- good thing, because he forecasts at least a few hours of fiddling to get a decent picture. Livolsi adds that tweaking is a must for best picture quality as the presets are biased toward maximum brightness -- something that's great for presentation work, but a no-no for serious home theater viewing in a darkened room.
The Optoma HD66 isn't terribly flexible when it comes to placement, thanks to a limited 1.1x manual zoom and complete lack of lens shift. Neither is terribly surprising in this price range. The HD66 does have an Image Shift function, which moves pixels across your viewing panel digitally instead of physically as conventional lens shift would do, but reviewers don't have much to say about how well it works.
Available inputs include HDMI, VGA, S-Video, and composite video, but a component video input is notably absent. Reviewers do note some HDMI handshake flakiness during source selection and even while watching video if signal levels are low. Because of that, Livolsi recommends keeping cable runs short (25 feet or less).
Cheap, but durability a question. If value is as important to you as picture quality, the 720p Optoma HD66 digital home-theater projector is an easy choice. As Andry writes, "You may have to fiddle with it a bit to get the most out of it, but for a dedicated Audioholic, this is a great entry-level projector."
Complicating the value issue, however, are increasing reports that question the HD66's durability -- particularly the issue of an unacceptable number of dead or stuck pixels that crop up after a year of more of use. Reports at Amazon.com and elsewhere are mixed regarding Optoma's response to the issue.
If you can spend more, the ViewSonic Pro8200 (*Est. $900) displays full 1080p resolution and somewhat better overall picture quality. Taking things one step further, the Epson Home Cinema 8350 (*Est. $1,300) draws raves for picture quality that far outstrips its price tag.
Review Credibility: Excellent Reviews at ProjectorCentral.com are detailed and complete. Reviewer Bill Livolsi says he likes the value of the Optoma HD66. A little tweaking yields a dynamic picture that's perfect for movies.
Review: Optoma HD66 720p DLP Home Theater Projector, Bill Livolsi, Feb. 3, 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good Consumer Reports is always an excellent source of product test results, although their testing of home theater video projectors is less comprehensive than see elsewhere. The Optoma HD66 is tested and rated for HD picture quality, SD picture quality and ease of use.
Review: Optoma HD66, Editors of Consumer Reports, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good Tom Andry writes that though some fiddling might be needed to get the best picture quality, the Optoma HD66 is still a great entry-level projector. He does say that marketing the HD66 as a 3D projector can be misleading.
Review: Optoma HD66 DLP 3D Projector Review, Tom Andry, Tom Andry
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 200 owners report on the Optoma HD66. The majority of them are pleased, but 3D features and support come in for some complaints. A small handful reports on projectors that have failed prematurely. Still, the HD66 earns a composite rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
Review: Optoma HD66 3D Projector, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2013