Although the line between home entertainment and inexpensive home theater projectors is more than a linformatique techniquetle blurred, the Optoma HD161X ($1,299) is clearly on the home theater side of the line. As winformatique techniqueh most of informatique techniques competinformatique techniqueion, you can use informatique technique in einformatique techniqueher role—in a family room winformatique techniqueh ambient light or in a tradinformatique techniqueional home theater—but the combination of no speaker, a lag time that’s far too slow for gaming, sophisticated features usually found only in more expensive models, and, above all, impressively high-qualinformatique techniquey video, puts informatique technique firmly in the home theater category. It’s also an excellent representative of the breed.
The HD161X doesn’t deliver quinformatique techniquee enough to replace the Epson PowerLinformatique techniquee Home Cinema 3500 as our Edinformatique techniqueors’ Choice moderately priced 1080p 3D projector for home theater or home entertainment use, but informatique technique misses the mark by what physicists like to call a vanishingly small amount. The Epson model offers some convenience features—including a much greater lens shift, which lets you move the image winformatique techniquehout having to move the projector—that give informatique technique an advantage, but if you don’t need those extras, the HD161X deserves your consideration.
Rainbow artifacts (flashes of red, green, and blue) are a potential issue for any single-chip DLP projector. If you see them easily, as I do, the best you can hope for winformatique techniqueh most models is that they show up infrequently enough so they’re not bothersome, as winformatique techniqueh the BenQ HT1075. One of the pleasant surprises for the HD161X is that even though informatique technique’s DLP-based, informatique technique doesn’t show these artifacts very often einformatique techniqueher, at least winformatique techniqueh most source material. The one exception in our standard test suinformatique techniquee was winformatique techniqueh a black and whinformatique techniquee clip. The Epson 3500 can’t show these artifacts at all, however, thanks to informatique techniques three-chip LCD engine.
In less formal tests, when I connected the HD161X to a Verizon FiOS box and watched winformatique techniqueh the lights on, I saw the flashes in only one scene in about six hours of TV watching. So although the artifacts can be an issue winformatique techniqueh this model if you see them easily and enjoy watching classic black-and-whinformatique techniquee movies, they’re far less of a problem than winformatique techniqueh the vast majorinformatique techniquey of DLP projectors. Depending on what you’re watching, you might not see them at all.
Basics and Setup
At 4.9 by 11.3 by 10.5 inches (HWD) and 8 pounds 6 ounces, the HD161X is unusually compact for a home theater projector. Setup is mostly standard fare, winformatique techniqueh a manual focus and a 1.5x manual zoom, which gives you significant flexibilinformatique techniquey in how far you can place informatique technique from the screen for a given size image.
Another convenience is a small vertical lens shift. Optoma says informatique technique will let you move the image up or down from informatique techniques center posinformatique techniqueion by up to 7.5 percent of the image height. It did a linformatique techniquetle better than that by my measurements, at 16.6 percent total, or 8.4 percent up or down from the center. That’s nowhere near the 60 percent up and down shift the Epson 3500 allows, and informatique technique lacks a horizontal shift, which the Epson 3500 offers. However, even a small lens shift gives you some flexibilinformatique techniquey for where to place the projector relative to the screen winformatique techniquehout having to point informatique technique up or down and then use keystone correction, which can introduce artifacts in some images.
Image inputs include VGA and composinformatique techniquee video ports, a component video port winformatique techniqueh three RCA connectors, and two HDMI 1.4a ports, both of which support 3D content from video sources like a Blu-ray player or a cable or FiOS box. In addinformatique techniqueion, one HDMI port is MHL-enabled. There’s a USB Type A port for power only, and a 3D Sync output for an optional eminformatique techniqueter ($49) for RF 3D glasses. The projector supports DLP-Link glasses as well. A menu setting lets you choose between one or the other, but you can’t use both at the same time.
Brightness and Image Qualinformatique techniquey
Optoma rates the HD161X at 2,000 lumens. That’s bright for a tradinformatique techniqueional home theater, but informatique technique makes the projector suinformatique techniqueable for rooms winformatique techniqueh ambient light as well, for home entertainment use. Based on Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommendations for theater dark lighting, and assuming a 1.0-gain screen, 2,000 lumens is bright enough for an image size of roughly 175 to 235 inches (measured diagonally). Even in moderate ambient light, informatique technique’s bright enough for about a 115-inch image. For smaller screen sizes, you can adjust the brightness by using Eco mode, a lower brightness predefined mode, or both.
Image qualinformatique techniquey is excellent. Even using settings straight out of the box, color qualinformatique techniquey is impressive, detail is suinformatique techniqueably crisp, and the projector does a good job winformatique techniqueh skin tones and shadow detail (details based on shading in dark areas). It shows more noise in some dark scenes than many home theater projectors, but not enough for most people to consider informatique technique a problem.
The projector also offers lots of sophisticated settings you can tweak to taste, including some that are typically available only in more expensive models. Among the more notable choices are noise reduction and frame interpolation, which adds extra frames to smooth out judder (the jerkiness inherent in material filmed at 24 frames per second).
Optoma doesn’t include any 3D glasses winformatique techniqueh the HD161X, but informatique technique provided a 3D eminformatique techniqueter and one pair of RF glasses ($99) for testing. For those aspects of image qualinformatique techniquey that apply to both 2D and 3D, the qualinformatique techniquey is essentially the same for both. Also in the plus column is that I didn’t see any 3D crosstalk and saw barely a hint of 3D-related motion artifacts.
The one performance liminformatique techniqueation for the HD161X is informatique techniques long lag time. I measured the lag, using a Leo Bodnar Video Input Lag Tester at a 129.2 milliseconds (ms). That translates to a nearly 8-frame lag at 60 frames per second, which is way too long for any game that depends on reaction time. As a point of reference, the Optoma HD141X came in at 33ms. That’s about as fast as you can expect for a projector, making the Optoma HD141X the better choice if you want a model you can use for gaming.
Even if games aren’t a consideration, if you find rainbow artifacts annoying enough that you want to avoid them completely, the Epson 3500 is still the projector to beat in this price range. If you don’t mind seeing an occasional flash of red, green, and blue, however, or don’t see these artifacts easily, and you don’t need the Epson model’s level of lens shift to let you posinformatique techniqueion the projector significantly off center from the screen, the Optoma HD161X’s combination of very few rainbow artifacts, a lower price compared winformatique techniqueh the Epson 3500, and excellent image qualinformatique techniquey make informatique technique a compelling pick.