"Great Image"on by 350ZMO
Pros Great Image, Quiet
Cons Typical for a projector
Summary This is my first projector. I decided on selecting a projector over a rear projection or LCD monitor/TV. This is a big decision. Projectors typically don't have tuners, you must watch them in near dark but they project a very beautiful 100" video. Basically, they are movie watching machines for those that want a home theater in the spirit of theater.
I made my selection based on the reviews on projectorcentral, here and a couple others. I decided upfront that I wanted a DLP or LCOS based projector due to longevity and user bulb replacement. Given the sale price and rebates being offered, that made the HD72 the best bang for the buck locally. If those incentives weren't there, I probably would have opted for a 480 device. I don't presently have an HD source. But the added resolution and features of the HD72 enhance its ability to display a non-HD picture. That is to say, the image quality of a 480i/p image is much better on a 720 device. 480 devices are typically plagued by pixilation. The color wheel is also important, number of segments and rotation speed. The HD70 and HD72 have a 4X, 7-segment color wheel. The reviews noted the absence of rainbow effect and beautiful picture quality and I am very happy with the HD72 image quality.
First off the manual says it supports 1080i not 1080p. As I don't have an HD source I can't confirm the rumors it supports 1080P. My guess is it will accept a 1080P signal, rescale the image to 1280X720 and display it in 720i.
The HD72 has a DVI port, 1280 X 768 versus 1280 X 720, and a 10bit color processor versus an 8 bit on the HD70. All other parameters are virtually the same as the HD70. Other reviews remark the HD72 is quieter and a tad brighter in real light output. The 10 bit color processor allows for much finer gradients like the image of a persons face and is the main reason I decided on the HD72 over the HD70. From other reviews, the additional bit depth results in seeing a more natural continuous tone instead of bands of different colors. The 12 bit color processors on the really expensive units are purportedly even better. But I am very pleased with the results of the 10bit on the HD72. No gradients are noticeable to me at all. The image looks smooth and natural.
A note about rated lumens: It appears that none of the projectors put out the advertised lumens, all put out less than advertised. Some come closer to their rating than others. It's really best to see a display device before you buy it. Since I could not do that, I had to rely on the reviews of specialty sites. Make no mistake about it; the HD72 likes a fairly dark room like most home theater projectors. Ambient light isn’t the problem, but any light that illuminates the screen is a problem.
A note about aspect modes: This projector supports letterbox as well as 16:9 and 4x3. The manual says this about letterbox: "This format is for non-16x9, letterbox source and for users who use external 16:9 lens to display 2.35:1 aspect ratio using full resolution." The manual goes on to state verbiage about external lens and so on. The deal is this. If you have a DVD that is anamorphic/2.35:1, then choose either 16:9 or letterbox mode. If connecting a standard satellite receiver use an s-video connection and for those broadcasts that are widescreen, then pick letterbox. You don't need an external lens per se although I’m sure it would reformat the image to a proper 2.35:1 if you did have one. If a DVD says widescreen, then choose 16:9 mode. If a DVD says standard or full screen, then pick the 4:3 mode. Choosing native mode on this projector eliminates the scaling effects but results in a smaller displayed image.
A note about the resolution: The 768 capability versus 720 is meant for displaying computer source and according to some reviews; "better filling widescreen sources". I don't have a computer video cable long enough to reach but I can say 2.35:1 anamorphic non-HD DVD titles in letterbox mode look great but even they have black bands at top and bottom, albeit narrow bands. Pick Display type as 1280X768 in the HD72 menu and the result is a larger image. A major problem I have seen with LCDs and Plasma display is the blocky/pixelation presentation of non-HD IE 480i/p sources. From a DVD source, this is not the case with the HD72. The HD72 does a very good job scaling non-HD image sources to fit the screen. The satellite source is a different story. You can clearly see the effects of DIRECTV compression. The compression artifacts are very noticeable. One may opt for an HD satellite receiver but remember, few broadcasts on satellite are HD. As time progresses, more channels should become HD. The rest currently are digitally compressed 480. You can also choose native mode and zoom the lens to get a bigger picture.
My video sources are component video from a 480P (non-HD) Panasonic DVD/DVR and a DIRECTV 480i (non-HD) satellite receiver. One review talked about the HD72's upconversion. I can't confirm the HD72 upconverts, that is from a 480i to a 480p. What I saw was the HD72 automatically detect and display a notification of a 480i and a 480p. My Panasonic DVD player does upconvert so I am running svideo from my satellite receiver to the Panasonic DVD player and then component from the DVD to the HD72. This is good for non-widescreen satellite materiel. However, for satellite materiel broadcast in "widescreen" then it is best to run s-video direct from the satellite receiver to the HD72. If you don't like swapping cables around, then you can also use the menus on the satellite receiver and the DVD to force 4:3 and widescreen modes. Note that the HD72 auto-detects the resolution but it does not auto-detect the aspect ratio. This you must change yourself manually.
I do not see the rainbow effects typically associated with DLP. I do have to use the overscan feature set to its max of 3 to eliminate edge lines around the image. I ran the THX optimizer video tests with the THX blue glasses and found I had made little to no changes in contrast/brightness/color/tint/sharpness. I ran the THX optimizer with image AI turned off and the mode set to film. I agree the image quality is beautiful, pretty much straight out of the box. I was particularly amazed at how much contrast/sharpness was present even at the lowest brightness setting. I decided in the end to turn on image AI, select cinema mode and run the brightness in the middle. Color and tint needed very little adjustment, barely noticeable.
I am using the HD72 in front projection mode. That is to say the projector sits on a stand about 8' in front of a reflective screen. The screen I am currently using is a self standing 60"x60" educational unit from home depot. That is because the motorized ceiling/wall mount model I selected (Elite Screens VMAX100UWH) hasn't arrived yet. When it arrives I'll write a review on it. The main difference in screens is the effective contrast gain. A normal projection screen has very little if any contrast gain. A glass beaded screen provides 1.5-1.8 in effective contrast gain. Note the Elite VMAX does not have glass beading. I am currently viewing a 52" 4x3 image and 62" letterbox image. Note the HD72 supports rear projection on a translucent screen.
The remote control is strictly for the HD72. It is not a universal remote, but can be programmed on a learning model like the Harmony or Pronto.
A note about the bulb: A replacement bulb is $300-$400 and is ‘supposed’ to last for 3000 hours. The typical user won't get the advertised life out of a bulb.
The HD72 has one each of these inputs: HDMI, DVI-I (Analog or PC Digital HDCP), component, composite (NTSC or PAL), S-Video, RS232, Service connector, 12V relay, Kensington Microsaver Lock Port, and standard 3 prong power socket.
The HD72 comes with: Standard 3 prong power cable, S-Video cable, Composite video cable, Component video cable, RS232 cable, IR Remote control with 2 AA batteries. Keep in mind the cables it comes with are very short, only ~6'. So if you are using a front projection screen you'll want to get 20' or longer cables.
The HD72 throws an image up so that the bottom of the image is 6.5 degrees up and the top of the image is 32 degrees up from centerline. Note the HD72 also supports front ceiling, meaning you can mount it upside down on the ceiling. But in that case, the top of the image will be at 6.5 degrees and the bottom of the image will be 32 degrees from the centerline. The remote has horizontal and vertical keystone correction and vertical shift.
Note that the HD72 has a white and silver plastic enclosure. If the rest of your home theater / entertainment center equipment is black it does look out of place. For me I don’t care about such things as mine is a hodge podge of different colors but some do.
Other models have more flexibility in placement and more features but what the HD72 has is sufficient for most needs.
Lastly, I am very pleased with the HD72, beautiful gigantic picture for a lot less than a comparable image size LCD or plasma.Updated
A few months ago the HD72 would come on for a few minutes then shut off. Bright Mode or ImageAI would trigger it. This was due to the bulb. The bulb had 683 hours. Replaced the bulb and it was doing fine. Several over at AVSforums also had the same experience. Some are reporting that Optoma requested they send the unit in for repair as it is a known issue. No details on what is repaired but obviously more than just a bulb replacement for some.
But last week my HD72 died hard and will not power on. Will update when I complete the tech support ritual.Updated
Got the HD72 back today, they shipped it via DHL in an original box with a couple layers of bubblewrap and a few styrofoam peanuts. I had shipped it in a much larger box packed with nothing but several layers of bubblewrap via UPS standard ground. Swapped it out with the HC1500 I had bought while waiting on this, plugged it in and it seems to work great. Technician's Analysis from the Repair Report:
Defective Symptom: Part Number Part Description
1.Function OK but need to implem 75.83J01G002 ASSY OSRAM LAMPDRIVER 230W(435
2.No Power 75.83F12G001 ASSY LVPS TIGERPOWER 200W H72
Having swapped it out in less than 5 minutes and looking at the same program, the HD72 has a better image than the HC1500 but the HC1500 was a lot brighter even on LOW. Better image defined as better upscalar on low def, less jaggies.
Pros Awesome 720p video
Cons Unit has exhibited some flakiness
Summary I've had this unit for a few months now and am pleased overall with it. The video quality is superb. We watch from 14'feet away from screen and the picture is flawless. The unit has malfunctioned several times (not during a movie though); once the power off button wouldn't work; once the lamp light stayed lit; in all cases, disconnecting power to the unit fixed the problem so it seems like its probably some type of firmware bug rather than a H/W problem. I contacted Optoma support and they were helpful. They confirmed it was probably some type of random anomaly and not a sign of a real H/W problem.
Pros Quality, Value, easy to set up, compatible with lots of sources,all cables included except HDMI. Had it going in 5 minutes.
Cons A little tricky to get colors right
Summary Very happy with it. I only wish I had bought a bigger screen. Great picture right out of the box. Still learning to fine tune the color.
Pros Great picture, great price.
Cons Bulb life is NOTORIOUSLY bad and misrepresented by Optoma in a HUGE way.
Summary I love this project and would like to be able to endorse it. Unfortunately, it has a significant engineering defect involving the bulb. As many online reviewers will attest, the bulbs (or ballast, no one seems sure) frequently fail under 1000 hours of use. Considering the nearly $400 bulb replacement value, I strongly recommend you spend your money on a more reliable unit. You can spend $400 - $800 more initially on a better projector and not have to worry constantly about this problem turning up in the middle of the Super Bowl.Updated
Update from my previous post. My 18-month old projector again started the blackout routine after a few minutes of operation (on second bulb). Sent to Optoma on warranty, received back in about 10-days. They installed a new bulb and some parts I can't identify from the repair ticket. Projector operates fine on kitchen counter. The second it is inverted for ceiling mount it goes to black. There ought to be a lemon law for these things. My advice... spend your money elsewhere. Owning this projector has become a nightmare.
Pros Great picture, easy setup, easy to use
Cons susceptible to infiltration of debris
Summary I have owned and loved this projector for seven months. I have no complaints whatsoever about quality, setup etc. I have only one issue--it for some reason has a problem with hairs getting caught in the reflection mirrors inside the projector. One got caught in it and it annoyed the hell out of me for a month. Finally I found time to take off the cover, and search for the source. Because the innards are covered with a felt-material (no doubt to prevent light leakage), this is no small task. I figured out where the hair was, as I could see it on one of the mirrors near the lens. Finally I extracted it, and put the projector back in place. The wonderful clear picture returned. Lo and behold, one week later, a new, significantly larger hair got trapped on the mirror somehow. Perhaps I am stupid and dont' know the easy way to remove this, but it appears to me that it is a real problem, and one I never had before with any other projector.