Optoma HD20 DLP Projector Reviews
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Optoma HD20 DLP Projector

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Best Budget Projector Yet - Get 1080p for $1099 Optoma HD20 DLP Projector

Mar 13, 2010 (Updated Mar 18, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Reliability:
  • Ease of Use:
  • Display Quality:

Pros:Just absolutely fantastic quality image especially from Blu Ray, PS3, and HD cable programming.

Cons:HD 20 randomly turns itself on sometimes!

The Bottom Line: Wow, Optoma's best projector yet and at an affordable price! 1080p HD is perfect for Blu Ray and HD programming.


I have owned two Optoma projectors so far, the Optoma H30 projector (480p) and the Optoma HD70 (720p) I have been very pleased with both.  There is nothing like watching movies on a 105" screen in your living room.   Regretably after nearly 3 years of service, my Optoma HD70 started to have problems and fixing them would have been expensive since the 2 year warranty was over.  (some of this review mirrors my older HD 70 projector review where the information is still the same, otherwise it is updated and revised for this 1080p home theater DLP projector from Optoma)

Non Techie Review

After you have the Optoma HD20 installed in your living room or home theater room you will absolutely love the huge movie screen size bright clear picture.  For only $1,099* (*not including installation, movie screen, leather reclining theater chairs, movie library, home theater system or popcorn), you will see a picture you won't believe possible at over 4 times the size of of your neighbors 60 inch LCD TV. Animated features are so bright they pop off the screen, and your movies, (especially Blu Ray and HD cable programming) will make you feel like you are at the movies, expect you won't have to tell the person behind you to shut up.

PS3 games will go from being mere games to interactive almost realistic experiences!  Even if you just want to surf the web, you can see your computer screen on the big screen! Lots of inputs on this Projector will allow your installer to hook up all your stuff from X Box 360, PS3, DVD, Blu Ray, Cable, Satellite or your computer to the projector.

The HD 20 may cause addiction, a permanent grin on your face, an inability to go out to the movies anymore, and weight gain. Be sure to ask your home theater professional if the Optoma HD 20 is right for you.

Installation

Installing my newest Optoma HD20 projector was a breeze.   It is slightly heavier than its predecessor the HD 70, weighing about 6 pounds.  I unplugged my HD 70 and disconnect the inputs. I unscrewed it from its ceiling mount. I then plugged in the HD20 and connected the inputs to the HD20 that I had just disconnected from my HD70. Then I  unscrewed the ceiling mount plate from the HD70 and screwed it to the bottom of the HD20. (Ceiling mounted projectors are mounted upside down). The three screws will line up exactly, there is no new hardware necessary. Lift the projector up, and rescrew the projector plate (that you just attached to the HD20) to the ceiling mount.

Yes, one thing I have LOVED about my Optoma projectors is that the ceiling mount is universal. For each upgrade, the projector had the same fit into the ceiling mount, so I literally just had to screw the new projector into place. Moreoever, even though this is my third Optoma, the Throw distance (the distance from the mounting point to the screen for a specific size image) has been the SAME! This means that I never had to readjust the movie screen with an upgraded projector.

After all the screws were tightened I turned the projector on, and my image appeared on my Da-Lite Cinamavision 105" movie screen.

You didn't Have a Projector mounted to your ceiling?

Oh, well your installation may be harder. Purchase a ceiling mount and hire someone to install it.

Differences from the HD70 to the HD20

The differences between the two are subtle but noticeable. The HD70 was a High Definition projector with a resolution of 720 progressive, although even 1080i and Blu Ray Hi Def programing still looked awesome. The HD20 is a true 1080 progressive scan projector. That is the highest resolution you can get. The native image is widescreen, but the projector will easily display all formats from full screen to super wide with no problems. A standard movie format of 1.85:1 or Widescreen TV format of 16:9 will fill the screen, super wide screen 2.35:1 will give bars on the top and bottom and 4:3 or full screen format will give black bars on the left and right.

Did I notice? Yes, the picture is a bit brighter, and seems somewhat smoother. You can also sit closer to the screen before noticing the pixels. I really didn't notice the pixels on the older HD 70 unless I was standing within 3 feet of the screen, but obviously with 1080p the pixels are even smaller and harder to detect. High Definition programming from the cable company pops out even more than it did on the HD70.  The room doesn't need to be as dark to get really eye catching details like the fur on Kung Fu Panda or the powdery pancake makeup on Heath Ledger as the Joker in the Dark Knight. 

Input possibilities are greater as well. The H30 and the HD70 both had composite inputs, VGA input and S Video input. The HD 70 had one
HDMI input and this model, the HD 20 has TWO HDMI inputs!  I still only use one, because my video inputs all go through my Yamaha Home Theater Receiver.

My son and I watched a few scenes from Blu Ray movies on the Playstation 3 to make sure the new projector was lined up and color adjustments were made. You do have to fiddle a bit to get things just so with both mounting and then with the menus for color, so after the image was locked in perfect, we picked movies that we knew the colors on and locked the colors in perfect. The movies used to adjust and then report were The Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda, and Stevie Wonder Live at Last.  The only thing I can't give kudos to my newest Optoma projector on was the awesome sound of Stevie Wonder! Projectors handle video only, sound is a separate matter for your home theater system.

Finally, my son wanted to get back to his video game, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.  Colors were even brighter, and maps seemed to be even clearer than the previous HD 70  720p projector.  I still got killed multiple times, but the visuals were noticeably improved.

VGA Input For those of you who don't know, the VGA input allows you to plug your computer into this projector. The projector is light enough that you could use this as a business presentation projector hooked up to your latest Powerpoint presentation on your laptop. At home, you can surf the web in your living room, and watch those YouTube videos on the big screen!  We checked out Lady GaGa's Telephone, her newest video.  Yes, even Youtube is brighter and crisper on the new projector. Lady Gaga's newest video was titallating, bizarre and not to my liking musically, but she did look good in her own weird way.

You can also watch the new Netflix on Demand movies over your computer on a movie screen, and those do look good. The difference in resolution from the HD 70 to the HD20 is also noticeable on computer displays.  The HD 20 supports resolutions up to 1920 x 1080.

The Remote

I also was pleased that the remote for the HD20 lights up whenever you press any button. I always had to fumble with the H30 remote that came with my first projector, because when we'd watch movies, the room was dark, and I couldn't see the buttons well. A light up remote was a great idea for the HD70, and it was kept with the HD20.  In fact, the lights on this remote light up bright blue!  Since my projector is ceiling mounted, the remote is necessary.

One Problem - Ghost in the Machine

I have noticed one major problem with the projector. For no reason it turns itself on!  I have come home on some occasions to find the projector turned on, even though I was positive I had turned it off. I even read the manual to be sure that the turn off power down procedure was the same as my last models. (It was, you hit the off button twice).  I called tech support who told me that the HD 20 shouldn't do that, and that I could send it in. I didn't want to be without the unit for a month, so I have taken to simply unplugging it after the fan cool down procedure. 

Sound

Fan noise is supposedly a problem with this model from some professional reviews I read before purchasing, but I can't hear it, unless I am sitting in the room perfectly quietly with nothing on. Since I have always used a ceiling mount and the projector is way up above my head, I just don't hear the fan.  I don't really don't even notice the projector is running.

Picture Quality

This is where the HD20 really shines (literally, that's how projectors work, they shine the image onto your screen). Incredible! I mean keep in mind I was perfectly stunned with the picture on the H30 and my HD 70 for all sources except standard definition television, but this one is even brighter and smoother for both DVDs and High Definition cable programing.   Blu Ray and PS3 games just blow me away, I can't fathom how my movies could look any better and then there they are looking even better.  Life is Good!  It made me forget that it is still raining outside.

Size Matters

Another thing that makes projectors such a nice investment for home theater is the sheer size of the image. If you think watching the game on your 60" wide screen television is fantastic, wait 'til you see the game on a 105" screen!  I can hardly wait for Formula One season to start!

Keep it Dark?

A projector does have its best image when the room is dark, but I was surprised that this model is bright enough so that you still get a good picture with some ambient light in the room. I mean if the room is full of sunlight in the afternoon, no, but evening light through windows or small lights on in the room won't affect picture quality. Nevertheless, you will get the best results when the room is kept dark.

Menu Items

The remote lets you do a number of things with the projector. Keep in mind, if you mount the projector you need the remote, but even if it is table mounted, most functions are accessible only via the remote.

You can select the source from the sources you have plugged in, although the projector will automatically detect if you only have one source going in. You can select the proper aspect ratio 16:9, Letterbox or 4:3. You can adjust the image in terms of brightness contrast, tint and color. You can save up to 5 settings for Film, Video, PC, and 2 other settings to optomize the picture no matter what the source. You can see how much life remains on the bulb. When you first set up the projector, you use the remote to make minor cornerstone and image adjustments to match the image to the screen.

Summary

This is a great projector at a great price. $1099 buys you a full 1080p High Definition projector that can project a 5 x 8 foot image onto a screen from 12 feet. If you have more space, you can get an even larger movie image!  If you love Blu Ray movies, HD sports, PS3 video games, surfing the web or HD cable programming on the big screen, you can't beat a home cinema projector at this price.  The Optoma H20 is the best projector yet and they had me several years ago when I bought the H30 480p projector! 


Recommend this product? Yes


Purchase Price (if leased, monthly payment): 1099

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