The Optoma's connectivity is fairly generous compared to that of many entry-level DLP projectors on the market. One HDMI and one DVI input give you two digital inputs, and you can use a HDMI-to-DVI adapter (not included) if you have two HDMI components. There is also one input each for component-, composite, and S-Video, as well as an odd four-pin mini-DIN connector that functions as RS-232 control port. A 12-volt trigger is on board for electric dropdown screen control.
In our tests, the Optoma HD72 turned in a good performance overall, especially when you consider its price. For example, we expected to discover a subpar lens and were surprised to find relatively few chromatic aberrations--it delivered crisp, sharp images. Video processing was also decent, and 2:3 pull-down was clearly evident from the pristinely rendered opening scene of the Star Trek: Insurrection DVD.
The biggest weakness is poor gamma, which creates a slightly bumpy grayscale that can result in minor discoloration in gray areas and adversely affects overall color reproduction. Poor gamma also causes the HD72 to lose shadow detail, obscuring dim areas a bit. However, these are fine points to be making about a sub-high-resolution front-projection system in this price range.
Overall color fidelity was accurate, with solid color decoding that lacked the dreaded red push. Though a bit uneven, the Optoma's grayscale, which affects all aspects of color reproduction, measured reasonably on target overall, both before and after calibration. The primary colors of red, green, and blue, while not perfect, were certainly not as far off as we are used to seeing with budget front projectors.
The black-level performance on the HD72 was pretty good, thanks to the Dark Chip 2 DMD chip, with blacks and very dark areas appearing rich and deep. During the opening scenes of the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back DVD, for example, the shots of outer space revealed relatively inky blacks without a hint of any other color, indicating a relatively accurate grayscale just above black.
For brighter material, we fired up the tried and true The Fifth Element DVD and watched chapters 8 and 9, which showed off the HD72's well-saturated colors and natural-looking skin tones. Chapter 3, where the professor is studying the hieroglyphics on the wall, was a great test of the projector's detail, and the HD72 handled it extremely well.
Both the HDMI and component-video inputs delivered full 1,280x720 resolution from our Sencore VP403 HD signal generator. HD material from our Time Warner cable system was crisp, sharp, and full of rich colors. Shadow detail in dark concert footage on HDNet was commendable for a projector in this price range, although not as good as it could have been with accurate gamma.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6,625/7,825K||Average|
|After color temp (20/80)||6,850/6,450K||Average|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 1,117K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 164K||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.657/.0323||Average|
|Color of green||0.336/0.624||Average|
|Color of blue||0.148/0.091||Poor|
|DC restoration||Gray pattern stable||Average|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Yes||Good|