Optoma HD23 £600
12th Jul 2012 | 08:30
Small, yet perfectly formed - and capable of some pretty amazing visuals
Polar opposites is a running theme for this projector pow-wow. First, there's the DLP versus LCD conundrum. Have the two dominant projector techs converged enough to make old distinctions irrelevant?
And what about the permanent or portable problem? How much image quality do you give up in return for a more flexible and portable projector?
While we're at it let's make it a three-way theme by chucking the Optoma HD23 into the contest. The question here is whether a specialist projector outfit like Optoma has the edge or whether the clout of bigger, more generalist brands makes for a better beamer.
The HD23 is one of Optoma's cheaper Full HD 1080p models, though it's worth noting the HD230X is even more affordable.
Optoma is a home cinema specialist, so it's no surprise to find DLP kit underpinning the visuals. What you don't get at this price point is a truly high-end feature set.
For starters, the optics are pretty basic and lack lens shift support. That's not exactly a shock on a £750 projector but it does underline that there's only so much you can expect for your money. The HD23 also has a pretty modest throw ratio, so it's probably not suitable for really small rooms.
The image quality doesn't look that spectacular at default settings, either. But from here on, the Optoma's class begins to shine through. It's the only projector here that works best using a cinema or movie oriented preset mode and it makes the HD23 very easy to set up. Just stick it in cinema mode and let it rip.
Duly configured, it fires out unquestionably the best visuals of our eight-way projector pack. It's hugely vibrant and dynamic and, well, just plain exciting.
Not only does the HD23 deliver the best blacks, it serves up the brightest, cleanest whites, too. That it pulls that off courtesy of a compact and anonymous looking chassis is impressive.
The only slight downside is that the smaller casing makes for a marginally whinier cooling solution. It's hardly intrusive, but the larger models in our grouping do tend to be quieter. It also doesn't come with a carry case.