Picture quality details
The Optoma easily outperformed the two less-expensive projectors I tested recently, the iRulu BL20 and the Epson Home Cinema 640. The biggest obvious improvement was in resolution: blown up to 120 inches diagonal, the picture really benefited from having all of its 1080p pixels on the screen. Details were sharp, edges were smooth, and there was no visible pixel structure (screen door effect). The entire picture looked much closer to what I'm used to, detail-wise, from a 1080p or 4K TV. Just, you know, a lot bigger.
Competition was much closer between the Optoma and more-expensive projectors I tested. The Viewsonic PJD7828HDL, another 1080p DLP unit, matched the Optoma for the most part in terms of color accuracy (and both had their flaws), but the Optoma delivered superior gamut coverage according to my measurements. For its part, the Viewsonic put out a somewhat brighter image while maintaining similar black levels, for a win in overall contrast on paper.
Comparing the two directly with Chapters 3 and 4 of the "Samsara" Blu-ray, it was tough to see the difference in contrast or color, but with the subtler "Tree of Life" (Chapter 2) the Optoma showed a slight advantage in skin tones and the greens of the plants. The two were neck-and-neck overall; both scored the same in this category, but if I had to choose one I'd take the Optoma.
The higher-end BenQ HT2050 ($800), another 1080p DLP, outclassed both by delivering a deeper shade of black, and comparing it to the Optoma I could see a slight difference on my big screen. The BenQ delivered just a bit more realism in dark scenes like the void of space in "Gravity." That said, the difference was subtle enough it would be tough for truly budget-minded buyers to justify the price difference based solely on that advantage.
Most 1080p DLP projectors I tested scored about the same for gaming input lag, around 33 or 34ms. That qualifies as "Good" by my scale -- it beats many TVs and should satisfy all but the twitchiest of gamers.
It's worth noting that all of these units suffered from an artifact I found distracting at times that's common to DLP: the rainbow effect. It caused brief rainbow "trails" to appear when I looked across or away from the screen in high-contrast areas (like white text against a black background). It didn't bother me much during the course of a movie, but if it bugs you, a projector like the Epson Home Cinema 2045, which uses LCD instead of DLP, might be a better bet.
To arrive at all of results below, I measured the Optoma's best default picture setting, Reference (I did not perform any calibration). The exceptions are peak white luminance and derived lumens, which were measured in Bright mode (thanks to Chris Heinonen for the lumens calculator). All observations and measurements were taken on my reference 120-inch Stewart StudioTek 130 screen, and comparisons with other projectors performed by alternately blocking their light.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.04||Average|
|Peak white luminance (100%)||56.14||Good|
|Avg. gamma (10-100%)||2.21||Average|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||5.00||Average|
|Dark gray error (20%)||2.60||Good|
|Bright gray error (70%)||5.51||Average|
|Avg. color error||5.06||Average|
|Percent gamut (Rec 709)||97.6||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||300||Poor|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||N/A||Good|
|Input lag (Game mode)||34||Good|