Optoma HD91: 3D Picture Performance
The HD91 is again a mixture of good and disappointing with 3D. The biggest strength of its 3D images is their pretty much total freedom from crosstalk ghosting noise, leaving you free to lap up the full HD clarity and detail that’s so essential to 3D’s success when applied to the sort of screen sizes fed by a projector.
The HD91’s strong handling of motion extends to its 3D playback too, as it avoids the excessive judder often seen when displays try to handle 3D 24p Blu-rays. Even The Hobbit, with its swirling cameras, looks pretty clean and judder-free on the HD91.
The problem is that the lack of brightness noted with 2D becomes quite serious with 3D, once you’ve donned Optoma’s brightness-reducing 3D glasses. The lack of brightness with 3D is sufficient to make 3D viewing feel quite fatiguing to watch, despite the 3D image’s clarity. The lack of brightness also means that some (though not all) 3D scenes don’t deliver quite as much depth impact as they tend to on brighter 3D displays.
One final rather odd issue with the HD91’s 3D playback is that its pictures can look rather ‘bleached’ in areas of very vivid colours and, especially, high brightness. By which we mean that there’s a loss of tonal subtlety in such areas that can create a rather cartoonish look.
Other things to consider
The remote control you get with the HD91 is a bit odd. It’s brightly backlit, which is good, and its layout is reasonably helpful, with direct button access to many of the most important features.
However, we also found its buttons rather rubbery, and the projector tended to react sluggishly and intermittently to our button presses.
The projector also seems rather sluggish to respond to changes in the video format being received to its HDMI inputs.
If you’re thinking of rigging yourself up for some big-screen gaming action, the HD91 is sadly not for you. Many projectors suffer quite badly with input lag, but the HD91’s measurement of 102ms is even higher than the usual figures we get with projectors, and as such is guaranteed to have a negative impact on your skills with any games that depend on reaction times (which is most of them, basically).
One final point to cover here is running noise. And here the HD91 does great, producing impressively little fan noise even when running at maximum brightness. The tone of the noise the projector produces can change slightly, even sounding like its ‘pulsing’ at times, which can make it a touch more distracting than a constant tone would be. But overall the noise is so low level that you’ll seldom be aware of it during a normal viewing session.
Should I buy an Optoma HD91?
If you’re a gamer, the HD91’s input lag makes it a no-go area. For everyone else, though, whether you should buy an HD91 is a tough question. If we stick with straight performance comparisons with the likes of the Sony HW55, JVC X35 and Epson TW9200, the Optoma’s problems delivering a really deep black level count quite strongly against it.
However, what if we think a few thousand hours of use down the line? At this point you will either have had to replace the lamp – at a cost of hundreds of pounds – on the Optoma’s rivals or else you’ll be watching pictures on them that have lost considerable brightness and colour saturation from the way they looked at the start of their lives.
In other words, you need to decide if you’re prepared to take a slight performance hit now in return for a performance – and cost, given that you don’t need new lamps – advantage over time.
Some rivals can offer a superior ‘at best’ performance level for sure, but these rivals won’t be able to sustain this performance for as long a time without incurring extra expenditure. So even though the HD91 might not win direct head-to-head performance comparisons, it’s still a model you should at least consider in your projector-buying deliberations.
Score in detail
2D Image Quality 8
3D Image Quality 7