Excellent image accuracy and contrast prove that Optoma is up for the budget projector brawl
Design-wise, the HD25 is passably attractive by budget projection standards, thanks to its gloss white finish and curved forward edge. Casual users will appreciate its small, cupboard-friendly footprint – though this does raise concerns about running noise issues.
It’s good to see the £800 HD25 taking 3D seriously too, by including a free pair of Active 3D glasses and RF 3D transmitter.
Most affordable projectors now carry surprisingly extensive picture calibration systems, and the DLP-based HD25 is no different, including gamma and colour management. Both of these proved handy in correcting some yellow and red colour errors in the projector’s presets.
Colours also benefitted from reducing the HD25’s Brilliant Colour mode to its halfway level, to avoid a nasty cooling in the overall colour tone, while contrast benefits from activating the HD25’s DynamicBlack feature, which continually adjusts the projector’s light output to best suit your content.
While the HD25’s menus contain a good array of adjustments, it doesn’t score very highly where its physical setup aids are concerned, with limited 1.2:1 zoom and no vertical imaging shifting. Therefore, unless you're flexible about where you can site a PJ in your room, you may need to use the distorting properties of keystone correction.
After making my adjustments, the HD25 delivered a seriously enjoyable picture for its money. Contrast levels are particularly impressive, with sequences like the early forays down the mine in There Will Be Blood displaying the deepest black level response in this grouptest. A residual gentle veil of greyness slightly obscures some subtle shadow detailing, but it’s less pervasive than you’ve any right to expect for £800.
The HD25’s calibrated colours also look good; not as vivid as, say, those of the BenQ W1070, but certainly more natural.
This budget projector handles moving material surprisingly credibly, suffering little of the dot crawl noise and judder I've witnessed on entry-level DLP projectors in the past. Pictures exude sharpness - not forensically so, but enough to do very intricate Blu-rays like Prometheus justice.
3D playback initially generated some serious issues, as the menus kept defaulting back to the DLP Link format (instead of VESA 3D) every time I switched the projector off. Also, 3D pictures were sporadically spoiled by a ‘flashing static’ phenomenon only fixed by powering the projector down and up again.
Fortunately, a second unit with new firmware fixed the menu problem completely, and hugely reduced the occurrences of the ‘flashing’. So if you already have an early HD25 displaying the 3D problems just described, contact Optoma to get your model updated.
With the 3D gremlins largely dismissed, the HD25’s 3D impresses. Pictures are bright and colourful, and deliver enough contrast to retain a decent impression of depth even during Prometheus’s most murky moments. There’s practically zero crosstalk ghosting, either. The HD25’s mostly immersive efforts are slightly undone by a couple of flaws, though. First, I noticed some rainbow effect during the Alien title sequence; second, I was sometimes distracted by changes in the projector’s running noise, presumably caused by the dynamic contrast arrangement.
Despite these issues, and while the HD25 might lack the instant appeal to casual users of its close BenQ rival, the Optoma's enhanced contrast and colour accuracy, together with its superior 3D performance, make it a potentially more interesting choice for AV enthusiasts with a sub £1,000 budget.
Price: £800 Approx
Highs: Capable of accurate, contrast-rich pictures; 3D glasses included; great value
Lows: A little rainbow effect; shifting operating noise tones; needs initial calibration work; initial sample required firmware update
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