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Optoma ThemeScene HD73 projector - Optoma ThemeScene HD73
Of course, no amount of processing will get you great colours if your black level response isn’t up to scratch. So you won’t be surprised when we tell you that the HD73’s black levels are really quite outstanding. There’s hardly any greyness over even the darkest corners of the Nostromo during a run-through of Alien, and there’s enough greyscale subtlety to render decent amounts of shadow detail. Talking of detail, the HD73’s picture is also sharp enough to make HD sources look crisp, textured and, well, ‘HD’, even to quite prodigious screen sizes.
Striking though all these strengths are, they’re substantially undermined by the HD73’s rather serious problems with video noise. This takes two main forms, both related to the way single-chip DLP projectors work. First, there’s frequent and clear evidence of the ‘rainbow effect’, where the projector’s colour wheel system leads to the appearance of flickery stripes of pure red, green and blue colour, especially in your peripheral vision or over particularly bright parts of the image such as the ‘Alien’ lettering during the opening credits of Ridley Scott’s classic.
And secondly, there are pretty obvious amounts of dithering noise, where objects moving across the screen – especially if there’s any skin on them! – suffer with fizzing noise over the peaks of their features.
Chuck in on top of these two problems some occasionally rather odd colour tones during dark scenes and a tendency for fast moving objects to lose resolution, and you’re suddenly left with a fundamentally flawed picture performance that can really draw your attention away from the film/TV show/console game you’re supposed to be enjoying.
In the end it’s hard to shake the feeling that the HD73 is too aggressive for its own good, focussing on the brightness and colour temperatures demanded by the PC industry to the detriment of the subtlety and noise suppression requirements of the AV world.
This situation proves once and for all that on-paper specifications aren’t the be-all and end-all of projector performance. For despite its DC3 credentials, the HD73 is actually considerably less enjoyable to watch than Planar’s keenly priced DC2-equipped PD7010.