Pros / Affordable, small and light, great picture.
Cons / Brightness and contrast could be better.
Verdict / Affordable 1080p projector option.
The Optoma HD20 projector is one of the more affordable 1080p home theater projectors on our list. The Vivitek H1080FD projector may be cheaper, but the HD20’s quality is better, thanks to its incorporation of Texas Instruments’ DLP and BrilliantColor technology. However, the contrast ratio and brightness are good but not great, and there is some color artifacting, or noise, in darker images. All things considered, it lands our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Ease of Use
The HD20 is one of the smaller and lighter of the home theater projectors we looked at, weighing just under 6.5 pounds, making it easy to hang from the ceiling or on a stand near the floor. It’s also extremely portable, and combined with the VGA connection the HD20 is great for business or educational presentations using software such as Microsoft Office PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote.
Once the projector is connected with the proper cables to the television receiver, DVD or Blu-ray player, or gaming console, it’s time to turn everything on. Out of the box the picture is pretty good, but users may want to work with the presets. These include:
- Cinema: Perfect for general home theater use, according to Optoma.
- Bright: Cranks up the brightness to max, which could wash out the image if you’re not careful.
- Photo: This mode is ideal for showing off photos from your recent trip to the Grand Canyon.
- Reference: A standard setting, which Optoma says keeps the image true to what a “movie director intended.”
- User: Customized the picture settings your liking.
As with other home theater projectors we reviewed, Optoma uses Texas Instruments’ DLP technology to produce a great picture, with supported resolution of 1080p, 1080i and 720p HD, along with 480i/p (NTSC, North America) and 576i/p (PAL, Europe) standard definition.
Overall the color looks great thanks to BrilliantColor technology from Texas Instruments. However, the contrast ratio is 4,000:1, but far below average for the higher-end units we reviewed. This is noticeable especially with dark colors; the projector can't reproduce a true black, even with the brightness and contrast adjusted properly. But for the most part, television programming, sports, movies and video games look great with the HD20.
Speaking of brightness, it seems that setting could be a little better, too. The stated output is 1,700 lumens from a 230 watt lamp, but it appears to be less bright than similar lamps in its class. You can adjust the brightness more, or switch to the Bright setting, which might wash out the image. The lamp should last 3,000 to 4,000 hours, depending on usage.
One thing to note is color artifacting (little color streaks, also called chroma noise) can be found in lower-light and darker images while watching video on the projector. This is a common trait found in similar home theater projectors utilizing DLP technology, but it’s nothing to be too worried about. If that's something that may concern you, there are LCD projectors available, which we covered on our list, including the Epson PowerLite 8100.
The projected distance (also called throw) is between 59.04 inches and 393.6 inches, which is a respectable distance. The projected image (measured diagonally) is 37.6 inches to 301.1 inches. What do these numbers mean? Basically, you can use the Optoma HD20 in a small room at home or in a large auditorium – it's equally effective for both. If you try to project farther than 393.6 inches, you’ll run into problems with the image dimming and the colors fading.
The interface found on the back of the Optoma HD20, as with the other home theater projectors, is where cables and the power supply are connected, includes HDMI (digital), Composite (RCA, A/V), Component, VGA (to connect to a Mac or Windows PC) and a +12 V Trigger.
As stated above, the HD20 is smaller than its fellow 1080p projectors. The overall dimensions and weight make it easy to carry it around. The measurements are 12.76 inches wide, 9.21 inches deep and 3.82 inches high. Its weight is a light 6.4 pounds, making its size somewhat closer to the 720p home theater projectors we looked at.
Help & Support
Optoma provides a one-year limited warranty for parts and labor and a 90-day warranty on the lamp. This is about standard as far as the warranties for most home theater projectors and lamps go. The company offers extended warranties at an additional cost.
Tech support options include phone and email contact so you can get in touch with a trained technician. They also include a user manual and a FAQs/Knowledge Base page, which you can use to find the solutions to most of your questions or problems.
If you’re looking for a great and affordable unit among the native 1080p home theater projectors available, the Optoma HD20 is a fantastic option. Its image is better than similarly priced home theater projectors, though the brightness and contrast could be better. This is definitely a unit worth considering for both home theater and business or educational use.