Optoma HD28HDR review: Bright HDR projector on a budget

    The Optoma HD28HDR provides away its declare to fame proper in its pithy identify: HDR. Unlike most cheap projectors, it really works with excessive dynamic vary video. With higher-end TVs HDR makes an enormous distinction in picture high quality, however with projectors it is a totally different story: Projectors lack the HDR-friendly {hardware} like OLED and full-array native dimming that may make HDR sources on TVs shine. This Optoma is sort of shiny however its HDR compatibility does not make it massively higher than the non-HDR competitors. 

    Don’t LikeHDR does not do as a lot as you would possibly anticipate.Limited zoom vary.No lens shift.

    I in contrast the HD28HDR to 2 non-HDR projectors we like, the BenQ HT2050A, and the Epson HC2150. Both are shut in value and in some ways shut in efficiency, however with HDR sources the Optoma HD28HDR does look barely higher than both one. But normal, non-HDR video remains to be far more widespread than HDR, and with normal video the Optoma HD28HDR is pretty common. This projector is one of the best among the many three in the event you’re the form of one who watches largely HDR — reserving the projector for high-end video games or particular film nights for instance — however the different two are superior all-around selections.
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    Basic specs Native decision: 1,920×1,080HDR-compatible: Yes4K-compatible: Yes3D-compatible: YesLumens spec: 3,600Zoom: Manual (1.1)Lens shift: NoLamp life (Normal mode): 6,000 hoursThe HD28HDR can settle for and show 4K sources however in contrast to the higher-end Optoma UHD60, it isn’t a real 4K projector. One of the HD28HDR’s HDMI inputs is HDMI 2.0 and might settle for a 3,840×2,160 60Hz (4K) sign, however essentially the most that’s ever displayed on display is 1,920×1,080 (1080p). When you ship this projector 4K, it is recognized on display as such, however you are still solely seeing HD.

    Read extra: TV decision confusion: 1080p, 2K, UHD, 4K, 8K, and what all of them implyWhy permit 4K enter however solely show 1080p on-screen, you would possibly ask? Technically you may have 1080p and even 720p decision alerts with HDR, however most streaming providers and gadgets lump 4K and HDR collectively. The HD28HDR gives a less expensive method to get excessive dynamic vary because it does not want to make use of a 4K DLP chip. If you are still into 3D, that is right here too, although no glasses are on the market on Optoma’s website. You’ll have to get some third-party fashions from Amazon.

    Optoma claims 3,600 lumens of brightness, and I measured round 1,500. It’s regular for a projector to measure decrease than its claimed numbers. For projectors of this value, this can be a stable consequence and creates a really shiny picture, albeit barely dimmer than the Epson HC2150 and BenQ HT2050A.As is widespread with DLP projectors on this value vary, there isn’t any lens shift. The BenQ is without doubt one of the few sub-$1,000 DLP projectors that does, whereas the Epson, an LCD projector, does as properly. The Optoma’s zoom vary could be very restricted, even by inexpensive projector requirements. These two issues imply the HD28HDR has restricted placement choices in comparison with projectors with a bigger zoom vary and/or lens shift, just like the BenQ and Epson. Lamp life, within the Normal mode, is a claimed 6,000 hours. In Eco mode this jumps as much as a powerful 10,000 hours, although at a price of 30% of the brightness. Turning on the Dynamic Black function expands this all the way in which to 15,000 hours, or about 10 years at 4 hours a day. In this mode the lamp brightness decreases with darkish scenes. The fan velocity varies with it, although this is not as noticeable as with the HD28HDR’s cheaper brother, the HD146X ($550 at Best Buy).
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    Connectivity and comfort HDMI inputs: 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x HDMI 1.4PC enter: NoUSB port: 1 (1.5A energy)Audio enter and output: 3.5mm audio outDigital audio output: NoLAN port: No12v set off: NoRS-232 distant port: NoMHL: NoDistant: BacklitThere are two HDMI inputs on the HD28HDR. One is HDMI 1.4, which covers you for any normal HD sources, or older 4K sources as much as 30 Hz, you need to join. The different is HDMI 2.0 and might deal with 4K sources. In a typical house theater setup, the place all of the sources run by means of a receiver, there is not any have to run two HDMI cables. HDMI 2.0 is backward suitable, so your HD sources will work superb on this enter. 
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    The solely different connection, apart from the 3.5mm audio output, is USB. This will energy a streaming stick like a Roku or Amazon Fire ($45 at eBay). There is not any inner speaker, nonetheless. The distant’s backlight is brighter than some projectors I’ve reviewed. Featuring a design shared throughout a number of Optoma projectors, there are enter buttons right here that are not discovered on the HD28HDR itself.
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    Picture high quality comparisons

    Overall the Optoma HD28HDR is barely higher than the cheaper HD146X, because of its prowess with HDR, however I did not like its image as a lot because the BenQ’s. The Epson, in the meantime scored the identical in picture high quality because the HD28HDR however for various causes. As normal, I related these projectors to a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier that gave every one the identical supply, after which in contrast every thing on a 102-inch 1.0-gain display.  The Epson is an efficient projector, particularly for viewers who cannot stand DLP’s rainbow impact. Its efficiency lags a bit behind the BenQ, so I ended up it lower than the others. The face-off will get narrowed down by one. That leaves us three DLP-based models. On the skin the HD146X seems to be like a digital twin to the HD28HDR. The casing is shiny black as a substitute of shiny white, however is clearly the identical design in any other case. Inside is a unique story, nonetheless, resulting in totally different efficiency. The BenQ is constantly our benchmark, because it has an incredible distinction ratio for the value and pretty correct colours. 
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    When viewing normal HD video, aka not HDR, I noticed little or no distinction between the HD28HDR and the HD146X. I believe most individuals, viewing the pictures created by each on the identical display, would assume they have been the identical projector. Perhaps with a couple of settings moved one tick in a single path or one other. While the 28HDR does have a barely greater distinction ratio, it isn’t significantly noticeable. Their colour accuracy, reminiscent of it’s, is analogous as properly. The BenQ does look higher than each Optomas, although maybe not as a lot because the numbers recommend. Its distinction ratio is almost 3 occasions greater than the HD28HDR, which provides a bit extra depth to the picture. It seems to be rather less washed out. That stated, it isn’t as large a distinction as you’d anticipate. More noticeable are the BenQ’s richer, extra correct colours, particularly inexperienced. The HD28HDR has a reasonably muted inexperienced, and it is significantly noticeable when side-by-side with one thing with extra correct colours. On the BenQ, The Incredible Hulk seems to be a bit extra unbelievable, if you’ll.  Given that the BenQ is barely barely dearer, whereas additionally being quieter, with a greater zoom and in addition to lens shift, it looks as if a slam dunk winner over the HD28HDR. However… The HDR wild cardThe above setup put all of the projectors on the identical degree enjoying area, displaying the very same content material on all 4. To take a look at HDR I related a separate streaming follow the 28HDR and left the others related to the identical SDR supply. This setup let me play the HDR model of a film on the 28HDR and the SDR model on the opposite projectors. It took some fiddling, however I used to be capable of get the sync between the totally different feeds shut sufficient that it wasn’t annoying. At this level I have to take a step again and clarify one thing about HDR. You can learn extra about it in What is HDR for TVs, and why do you have to care? and Why you should not anticipate nice HDR from a projector, however the quick model is, finances projectors, even these as shiny because the HD28HDR, aren’t capable of reproduce HDR like trendy TVs can. They have neither the sunshine output, the dynamic vary, nor the colours for huge colour gamut content material. So they must remap the HDR sign in a method so it seems to be acceptable, whereas not utterly ignoring the additional HDR information. 
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    A projector that is ready to learn and readjust HDR content material may, in concept, look higher than a projector that may’t. It will not look nearly as good as a TV that has precise HDR-friendly efficiency however feeding it “better” content material may nonetheless lead to a extra compelling picture. I believe you may see the place I’m going with this. With no different modifications apart from an HDR model of the sign, the HD28HDR seems to be noticeably higher than the HD146X, and finally ends up giving the BenQ a run for its cash. How is that this attainable? Well, the variations are nonetheless delicate, however once more, viewing them side-by-side reveals them.  The brightness, dynamic vary, and colours of the projector have not modified, it is how the content material is ready to higher use that very same efficiency. Think of it like knowledgeable driver going round a racetrack in your automobile. You’d in all probability have a blast clocking in a good time, however regardless of how properly you probably did, Lewis Hamilton would be capable to get a greater time in the identical automobile.  With Thor: Ragnarok, such variations are straightforward to pick, given the lavish units and broad fantastical colours. There is extra element in shiny objects, like clouds. What is a flat white on, say, the BenQ, has element/texture and a few colour on the HD28HDR. Brighter colours are extra saturated. While the black bars above and beneath the display reveal that the BenQ has a a lot decrease black degree, and by extension, a greater distinction ratio, the picture itself seems to be way more comparable than you’d anticipate. While the problem with a weak inexperienced remains to be there, different colours, particularly brighter ones, look higher and richer on the HD28HDR. 
    Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
    Conclusion: HDR-ish This is a story of two projectors, trapped inside the identical small case. Fed normal SDR content material, the HD28HDR’s pretty common distinction ratio and colours are superb, however they do not make it stand out. Fed HDR content material, it is a totally different story. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, if you’ll. While the HD28HDR cannot do almost as a lot with HDR content material as a extra succesful projector, it isn’t doing nothing, so to talk. It’s doing one of the best with what it has — and searching higher for it. Punching above its weight and searching fairly good. That all stated… the distinction remains to be pretty slight. With HDR content material, I’d put the HD28HDR very barely above the BenQ HT2050A, although they’ve very totally different strengths and weaknesses. With SDR content material, that’s, the overwhelming majority of what you may be watching, the BenQ seems to be higher. Not an enormous quantity, however sufficient. The BenQ, with its higher zoom vary and lens shift, can even match higher in way more houses than the HD28HDR. So I’d lean that method for most individuals, however the HD28HDR is a stable different, particularly in the event you watch predominantly HDR content material.

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    Measurement notes This is a peculiar projector, trying fairly totally different with HDR content material than with SDR, even with the SDR settings as near appropriate as attainable. I discovered the Cinema mode to be most correct, together with the Standard colour temperature and Standard (2.2) gamma settings. The colour temperature is barely missing blue, with barely an excessive amount of inexperienced, however it’s fairly shut. Colors are one other story. Green is sort of undersaturated, and blue is barely teal. Some slight changes to those have been attainable, however to not any nice extent. Once despatched an HDR sign, the projector switches over to its HDR image mode, giving entry to a brand new setting within the menu: Dynamic Range. Since a projector like this has no hope in creating the nits required by HDR content material (see major textual content), it must re-map the picture to one thing nearer to what it may create. One attainable method is to simply lop off all the brilliant element (assume textures in clouds throughout daylight). This is inelegant, and might create different points. A doubtlessly higher method is to remap a number of the shiny element so it is “dimmer” so to talk. This can have its personal points as properly. Conveniently, Optoma provides you a alternative in the way it does this: Standard, Film, Bright and Details. It’s price flipping by means of these when you’re watching HDR content material to see what seems to be finest to you on that content material. Since the projector goes to must re-map the HDR regardless, there isn’t any proper or incorrect reply right here.  In the Cinema image mode and Standard colour temp mode, the HD28HDR places out a really respectable 170 nits, about the identical because the BenQ and Epson. Turning up the Brilliant Color, or switching to the Vivid mode, can improve this much more, to 215 nits, although the general picture does not look nearly as good or as correct. The Eco lamp mode drops both by about 30%. The Dynamic Black mode, which decreases lamp energy for darker scenes, additionally appears to cap most mild output by about 10%, however has a a lot decrease black degree and due to this fact a higher dynamic distinction ratio. The native distinction ratio itself is pretty poor, at a median of 716:1. The LCD-based Epson is round 1,200:1, and the BenQ almost 2,100:1.  Picture mode: Cinema Expert settings: Brightness: 1Contrast: -4Sharpness: 10Gamma: Standard (2.2)Brightness Mode: BrightColor temp.: StandardDynamic Black: Off (On can also be superb)Brilliant Color: 8

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