Hands-On: Optoma Home Cinema Projector Produces Versatile Connectivity
Optoma's HD161X-WHD Home Cinema Projector allows for wired or HDMI connectivity options and is bright enough to use in dim rooms or rooms with ambient light.
Years ago it used to be expensive to get into a projector-based home video system. These days, however, the cost of screens and projectors has come down significantly without much compromise in image quality.
Along those lines, the competitively priced HD161X-WHD Home Cinema Projector with Wireless HDMI package from Optoma bundles the HD161X projector a wireless HDMI receiver to provide dealers with a retrofit-friendly setup that eliminates the need for cable runs.
Optoma says the compact projector is capable of producing up to 2,000 lumens and contrast levels as high as 40,000:1. The DLP-based product also includes MHL support, 3D options, multiple HDMI inputs, a 1.5-zoom lens and ISFccc certification to allow dealers to set up day/night viewing modes.
I started with a wired connection by simply plugging in an HDMI cable that was connected to an Onkyo receiver’s output, and the projector’s power cable. Once the projector was on, I thought the images looked good with no tweaks. Viewing with the lamp running in its normal mode I thought content was bright with punchy colors. Digging into the menu and some image refinement, I found the projector needed very little adjustment. Later, though, when I set the projector to its “eco” mode, which is said to deliver bulb life levels up to 7,000 hours, I needed to recalibrate everything due to the drop in brightness.
For the rest of my time with the HD161X-WHD I ran it in eco mode, and I thought it produced fine images with content as varied as satellite broadcast from Dish, streaming media from Netflix and HBO Now, and Blu-ray discs. Nitpicking the image, I could say they ran a bit on the cool side of the color spectrum, and I did notice some occasional processing judder, but overall I was pleased with the projector’s performance.
PROS: Connectivity versatility with wired or HDMI; bright enough to use in dim rooms or rooms with ambient light; good overall picture quality
CONS: The 3D options were trouble-some; projector’s wireless options like any other form of wireless are not 100 percent as foolproof as traditional wired connections
Shifting gears into the HD161X-WHD’s 3D options, I will admit that I failed at getting the projector to produce good 3D images. I suspect the glasses weren’t functioning properly, but I think at this point the 3D buzz has worn off to the point where it’s just not a vital feature anymore.
On the other hand, I think people will be keenly interested in the projector’s wireless functionality. The wireless kit comes with cables, power supplies and the transmitter and receiver devices. Connecting the transmitter to the back of my Onkyo receiver, I placed the device on the top of my equipment cabinet. I set the receiver next to the projector and plugged its output cable to the HDMI 1 input on the projector. That was pretty much it after plugging the devices in (yes, “wireless” still involves some wires).
I loaded the wireless system’s remote with batteries to allow me to toggle between the two wireless HDMI channels, and just waited a few minutes for each respective channel to lock in their connections. Having the products roughly 15 feet apart I found the connection to work well. The only time it dropped a signal was once or twice when I walked between the devices. I could not, however, induce the signal to drop consistently, so I concluded the couple times it did momentarily drop out were just a random occurrence typical of any wireless connection.
Working in tandem with my 100-inch SI Slate screen with a 1.2-gain positioned about 11 feet away, I thought the Optoma projector delivered everything I could ever want from a reasonably priced projector, particularly one that adds wireless HDMI connectivity. Perhaps the wired connection looked a touch better, but I think most viewers would be hard-pressed to distinguish much if any difference at all.
As for its color, brightness, contrast and other performance parameters, the HD161X-WHD should satisfy the majority of customers looking for a solid home theater viewing experience. For dealers seeking a cost-effective, retrofit projector solution that works in multimedia environments, Optoma’s HD161X-WHD Home Cinema Projector with Wireless HDMI is definitely worth checking out.
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Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at email@example.com
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