Optoma HD142X review: A huge, hella impressive picture for a small price

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The Good The Optoma HD142X has very good overall image quality with full-HD resolution, solid contrast and accurate color. It's one of the least expensive projectors available for this level of quality.

The Bad Somewhat lighter black levels and less-accurate color than some more-expensive competitors; no analog video inputs.

The Bottom Line The Optoma HD142X has an image so good, it'll be tough for price-conscious home theater fans to justify paying more for a projector.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Value 10

The Optoma HD142X, at $550, is one of the least-expensive true high-definition projectors available, but the picture looks better than you might expect for the price. This little black box filled the massive 120-inch screen in CNET's test lab with no problem, throwing up an image as detailed and accurate as any midrange TV. Except ginormous, and infinitely more impressive as a result.

Best projectors you can actually afford

The Optoma's picture handily outdid the cheaper non-HD projectors I've tested recently, and kept up very well with the more expensive competition, too. So well, in fact, that its low price point already begins triggering noticeably diminishing returns. Higher-end units like the BenQ HT2050 ($800), for example, did turn in slightly better performances in some areas, but the differences would be tough for many viewers to appreciate. To get a truly substantial leap in image quality, you'll have to pay a lot more.

That leaves entry-level full HD competitors like the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL and the BenQ W1070, both of which cost a bit more than the Optoma at around $580. Its picture is as good or better overall than either one, making it the best value I've tested yet among 1080p projectors. For limited-size rooms I'd recommend the shorter-throw Viewsonic, but the Optoma is my favorite overall at this price.

Basic specs

  • Native resolution: 1080p
  • Lumens spec: 3,000
  • Zoom: Manual (1.1x)
  • Lens shift: No
  • 3D-compatible: Yes
  • Lamp life (Normal mode): 5,000 hours
  • Replacement lamp cost: $170

Beyond 1080p resolution, the HD142X is as bare-bones as you'd expect for the price. Its lumens rating and tested light output fall short of both the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL and the Epson Home Cinema 640, but it's still plenty bright for the dim (or preferably completely dark) room you should be watching in. The Optoma is also among the smallest 1080p projectors at just 11.7 by 9 by 3.8 inches (WHD).

A manual zoom to make positioning easier, although its range is relatively narrow and, like most budget projectors, there's no lens shift. This is not a short-throw projector, so if your situation calls for as large an image as possible in a small room, the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL is a better bet.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you want to use 3D with the Optoma you'll need to buy 3D glasses. The projector uses DLP Link, which should be compatible with numerous third-party glasses (starting at $25 each on Amazon) or Optoma's own, like the ZD302 ($50 each). You can also connect an RF emitter such as Optoma's ZF2300 ($50) to use non-DLP-Link glasses.

Optoma claims you can get up to 8,000 hours by using different lamp modes; the 5,000 hours figure is for the brightest (Normal) mode. The HD142X has similar lamp life to competitors and a middling price for a replacement lamp. Epson projectors use cheaper lamps, while Viewsonic and BenQ charge more.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity and convenience

  • HDMI inputs: 2
  • AV input: No
  • PC input: No
  • USB port: Mouse/power only
  • MHL: Yes
  • Remote: Backlit
  • Built-in speaker: Yes

Unlike most projectors the Optoma doesn't include any analog AV inputs, just HDMI. That shouldn't be an issue unless you want to connect older gear or computers that lack digital outputs. It also works with MHL sources like compatible phones, but you can't directly connect a USB drive for photo or video viewing. The USB port is only for power or using the projector's remote as a makeshift mouse.

I like the Optoma's backlit remote, and the menus reveal solid selection of picture modes and adjustments for the price. The built-in test patterns are a nice touch, too.