Considering it’s presumably targeted at a fairly unsophisticated ‘entry level’ audience, the HD73 isn’t as easy to set up as it perhaps should be. Getting the image angled onto our screen and looking level was made frustratingly fiddly by some poorly designed drop-down legs and a finicky vertical image shifting facility. Also, the fact that the optical zoom level in the lens is restricted to 1.2x means that you may struggle to get the right image size from the position in your room where you most want the projector to go. We suggest popping over to Optoma’s website, where you can download a brochure on the HD73 that tells you what sort of projection throw distance you need for the HD73 to get various image sizes. The website also features a model-based distance calculator.
On the plus side, the projector does offer keystone correction in both the vertical and horizontal planes, and – perhaps controversially – is unusual in the projection world for sporting an ‘Image AI’ tool that can automatically adjust a variety of image elements based on a continual assessment of the incoming source material. We personally would rather trust our own eyes than that of some processors in the projector, but maybe that’s just us.
One final point we should pick up on before assessing the HD73’s performance is its native 1,280 x 768 pixel count. This actually equates to a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:10, rather than the 16:9 preferred by most cinema projectors. The reason for it, says Optoma, is that it makes the HD73 more of a multimedia all-rounder than most DLP models, since the 16:10 ratio is better suited to PC purposes than 16:9. But we can’t help but wonder if this might make the HD73 fall uncomfortably between the two AV and PC projection stools.
At first, it seems our fears are wholly unjustified, as the HD73 explodes into life with some strikingly vibrant and bright colours that blast off a screen with much more enthusiasm than is common for the budget DLP market. The delicious primary colour scheme of Kameo on Xbox 360 looks even more inviting than usual, while movies immediately look solid and engaging. BrilliantColour and TrueVivid definitely seem to be earning their corn here.