Cinema style projectors are still a rarity in most homes. The introduction of models such as Optima's all-in-one DV10 MovieTime should help change all that. The DV10 combines a DLP projector, DVD player and speakers all in the same package, and is perfectly suited for entertainment or office presentations.
The key to the DV10's brilliance is its portability and ease of use. Just place it in front of a screen, plug in the power, then pop in a DVD and hit play. The fairly compact unit weighs 3.75 kilograms but includes an integrated DVD player with a full digital connection and a pair of speakers. Inside, you'll find Texas Instrument's DarkChip2 DLP circuit with a native resolution of 854x480. This falls short of the HD standard, although the DV10 can still accept HDTV input signals. Also, the projector features a short throw lens, which attempts to create the largest possible image even when placed right up close to the screen.
The relatively short 1.11:1 zoom was disappointing because adjusting the screen size further required us to move the entire unit back and forth. The DV10's curvaceous black and white shell makes it stand out against the multitude of boxy designs on the market. On the base of the unit you'll find threaded feet that can be adjusted for levelling the image and moving its height. At the top are several backlit buttons around the flip-top DVD player's lid, while power and AV connections are found at the rear.
One gripe we had concerned the recessed port for the S-Video input that couldn't fit some of the larger cables on the market. The included remote wasn't backlit but was easier to use than some of the credit card style ones that usually come with projectors.
The DV10 is not limited to just watching DVDs or listening to music. It's possible to hook up an HD set-top box, videogame console or even a PC through the component-video adaptor and RGB port. There's also a standard S-Video and basic composite connection. The integrated DVD player supports several video and audio formats including VCD, SVCD, HDCD as well as MP3, WMA, KodakPhotoCD and JPEG playback. When playing audio files, Optoma has provided an onscreen interface to select different files but don't expect much volume from the built-in 5-watt speakers. We suspect many users will hook up a 5.1 speaker set for DD and DTS surround sound.
Buyers are often turned off by the high cost of projectors, a situation that's made worse considering that the expensive light bulb will need replacement after a while. Further, replacement bulbs can be difficult to find and are often expensive. In the case of the DV10's bulb, which has an ANSI brightness rating of 1000 lumens, expect an average lifespan of roughly 3000 hours when run in economy mode.
Images are displayed with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is better suited for watching movies, and can be improved by manually adjusting the number of preset display modes. Both the Movie mode and Image AI settings display excellent images but even these can be improved.
The DV10 has been designed to sit only about 30 cm below the screen. This meant that the projector had to be placed quite low to the ground to accommodate our test screen. When we placed the DV10 roughly three metres away from the screen, the projected image was just under 100 inches across the diagonal. Once you have the correct placement, it's time to play around with the image settings. Unfortunately, this process is made difficult by the unnecessarily complicated menu system.
At least the DV10's image quality is excellent. Pictures were vivid and clear, plus dark scenes came out superbly once the brightness levels were toned down. However, we did have some quibbles. Lower resolution images didn't fare so well when displayed up on the 100 inch screen.
Also, the device gets very hot after extensive use and the DVD player can run a bit noisy sometimes, especially during quiet sequences in a film. Finally, the built-in speakers were loud enough to fill a small room but deteriorated in quality when the volume was turned up.