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Optoma HD50 review

Katharine Byrne
2 Sep 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,000
inc VAT

With its large lens and tiny chassis, the HD50 is a highly flexible projector that's much more portable than the competition

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Specifications

Projector type: DLP, Projector type: DLP, Contrast ratio: 50,000:1, Lens shift: Vertical +15%, Document formats read: N/A, Lamp life in economy mode: 3,500h, Lamp brightness: 2,220 lumen, Size: 124x286x265mm

One of the advantages of choosing a projector with a large lens is that its throw ratio is often much higher than projectors with smaller lenses. This means you can position it further away from your projection surface while still producing a large image. The only downside is that big lenses are often only found in very expensive projectors that have large, shelf-hogging cases.

What makes the Optoma HD50 so remarkable is that its huge lens is packed inside a chassis which measures just 286x265x124mm, which is around half the width of a typical high-end projector such as the EH-TW6100. Despite its tiny dimensions, the projector still has a huge throw ratio of 1.39-2.09:1, which isn't far off the throw ratio of the EH-TW6100 or even the Sony VPL-HW40ES, both of which are considerably larger and more expensive. This makes the Optoma HD50 ideal for those who need a fairly small projector. The HD50’s large throw ratio also makes it more adaptable to different room sizes, which is handy if you’ll be using it in various rooms.

One reason why the HD50 is much cheaper than other large-lens projectors is its use of DLP technology. DLP uses a colour wheel to project images, which means you’ll inevitably see a few rainbow effects crop up while watching films. Whether this bothers you will depend very much on how susceptible you are to the effect, but we found it was noticeable during our testing. It didn’t make for uncomfortable viewing, though, and was more obvious when browsing through the projector’s menu system. Still, we think the effect was more pronounced on the HD50 than Optoma's cheaper HD25-LV projector.

Happily, you won’t have to sit in total darkness while watching films, as the HD50’s bright 2,200 ANSI lumen lamp ensures it has plenty of brightness for all lighting conditions. Colours looked rich regardless of whether we had the lights on or off, and we were impressed with how much detail we could see in darker night scenes when we left the lights on.

We were also pleased to see the HD50 has a 15 per cent vertical lens shift. This makes it easier to adjust the height of your image if the projector is placed on a low table, for example, but you'll have to use the manual dial above the lens as there's no way of adjusting it with the remote control. The same applies for the 1.5x zoom ring.

You'll find a handful of menu buttons on top of the projector as well, but the comprehensive backlit remote control is much easier to use. Our particular review sample tended to be a bit too responsive, though, as pressing the navigational buttons tended to jump two options instead of one, so we had to make sure we pressed the buttons lightly to select the right setting.

The HD50 has two HDMI inputs and a single VGA input, along with composite and component inputs, a 3D-Sync port for Optoma’s optional ZF2100 3D emitter system, a 12V trigger and an RS232 port for integrating the projector into a home automation system. There’s also a USB service port and USB power port.

The HD50 has a variety of picture modes, including Reference, Cinema, Vivid, Bright, Game, User and 3D, but nearly all of them looked the same. Reference was a fraction darker than the others, but only Bright produced any real, discernible difference, mainly due to its brighter colours and higher levels of contrast. All of them can be customised to your liking, though, and basic picture settings include brightness, contrast, colour, tint and sharpness.

There are plenty of advanced picture settings, too, including noise reduction, gamma, Brilliant Colour, Optoma’s Pure Engine feature, dynamic black and several colour options. These include colour temperature, gamut coverage, individual colour values, RGB gain, RGB channel and colour space. All these give you plenty of scope to help calibrate the projector right down to the finest detail.

Optoma’s Pure Engine feature provides three additional settings to help improve picture quality. The first is Ultra Detail, which supposedly helps images look sharper. We couldn’t see any difference when watching our Blu-ray discs, but DVDs showed some improvement, particularly when we opted for the User setting in the Ultra Detail menu. Text and fine detail did look noticeably sharper when viewed up close, but we’re not sure it makes enough of a difference either way to improve the projector’s upscaling dramatically.

The second setting is the PureColour option, which makes colours appear richer and more vibrant. This had a more dramatic effect on colour reproduction, but we found it made films look too oversaturated if we increased it any higher than mid-way.

Lastly, PureMotion is Optoma’s frame interpolation feature. We certainly appreciated this feature the most, as leaving PureMotion turned off meant that films could appear quite jerky during heated action sequences. Quick camera pans in Star Trek visibly stuttered across the screen when we left PureMotion off, but setting it to Low helped smooth this over without making everything else appear too unnatural. Any higher and the frames started to tear across the screen and was particularly bad along the lower edge of the film.

The HD50 can project films in 3D, too, but unfortunately the projector doesn’t come with a pair of 3D glasses in the box and must buy the glasses and 3D emitter system separately (Optoma ZF2100 E1A3E0000001, £80 from www.projectorplanet.co.uk).

The Optoma HD50 is a great projector that you can use straight out of the box, and it's a particularly good fit for those that want a more flexible projector for use in a variety of rooms. The vertical lens shift and frame interpolation are also very welcome additions over the cheaper Optoma HD25-LV, but we were a little disappointed that the HD50 still doesn't come with any 3D glasses. Nevertheless, the Optoma HD50 is a superb projector that provides all the benefits of a high-end projector at a fraction of the price. 

Hardware
Projector typeDLP
3D supportYes
Contrast ratio50,000:1
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Native aspect ratio16:9
Throw ratio1.39-2.09:1
Max diagonal at 7ft distance69in
Projection distance1.2m - 10m
Optical zoomManual 1-1.5x
Mirror imageYes
Invert imageYes
Lens shiftVertical +15%
Video inputsHDMI x2, VGA, component, composite
Audio inputsN/A
Video outputsN/A
Audio outputsN/A
Noise (in normal use)29d(B)A
Internal speaker (power)No
Card readerNo
Image formats readN/A
Document formats readN/A
Lamp life5,000h
Lamp life in economy mode3,500h
Lamp brightness2,220 lumen
Size124x286x265mm
Weight2.7kg
Buying information
Price including VAT£1,000
WarrantyTwo-years RTB (lamp one year)
Supplierwww.richersounds.co.uk
Detailswww.optoma.co.uk
Part codeHD50

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