Optoma ML750ST – Picture Quality
In many ways, the ML750ST proves just how far pocket projectors have come since their early days.
Starting with video playback, I was particularly impressed by its black-level response and colour performance. Dark scenes contain much more realistic black colours than I’m accustomed to seeing with such small-form projectors, with relatively low amounts of grey mist hanging over parts of the picture that are supposed to look black. This immediately makes dark scenes look more credible, immersive and detailed than they usually do on projectors of this size.
This lack of greyness also allows you to see more shadowy detailing during dark scenes, giving them a sense of depth that’s almost on a par to what you see in bright scenes. As a result, that jarring of bright scene/dark scene inconsistency you often have to suffer with ultra-portable projectors is greatly reduced.
Where colour is concerned, when using the Rec 709 Movie picture preset, the naturalism and subtlety of the ML750ST’s tones is simply the best I’ve seen from an ultraportable projector. The presentation of items from vivid sun-drenched landscapes to skin tones is so effective, in fact, that it rivals the colour efforts of many budget full-sized DLP projectors.
Heavily saturated tones look rich and punchy, while subtle skin and clothing tones are rendered with finesse, avoiding the plasticky or “patchy” finish often seen on projectors that put as much emphasis on form and function as the ML750ST. The whole tone of the colour palette is pleasingly video-friendly in Movie mode too, sidestepping the PC-favouring temperatures often seen with ultraportable projectors.
I was pleasantly surprised, too, by how naturally the ML750ST handles motion – even when showing 24p video sources – and by its ability to deliver pictures bright enough to remain satisfying in a darkened room even when pushed to around 100-inches across.
This is a real boon for people wanting to use the ML750ST as a home-entertainment machine, given that most ultra-small projectors I’ve seen have struggled to deliver pictures bright enough to comfortably stretch beyond 50-60 inches.
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However, you will need a dark room if you want to get a big image out of the ML750ST – something that may be an issue in presentation scenarios. That said, just as the ML750ST can drive a big screen more successfully than most small projectors, its brightness also enables it to look intense enough at smaller sizes such as 40-50 inches to work through a little ambient light – and such a size could prove ample for presentations to relatively small groups in compact meeting rooms.
Inevitably, the pint-sized design of the ML750ST does come with some video performance strings attached. First, and worst, I was quite aware of DLP’s rainbow effect – fleeting red, green and blue stripes over bright image areas – while watching contrast-rich images.
The image also presents more noise than I’d expect to see on a decent, budget full-sized DLP projector, while edges sometimes have a slightly jagged look, presumably caused by the lack of a native Full HD resolution.
In addition, there’s very occasionally a thin purplish halo around very defined edges, and while the ML750ST scores highly for brightness by pocket projector standards, if you’re looking for a projector to exclusively drive a fairly big screen – or you struggle to completely black out your living room – you’ll achieve better brightness from a full-sized model; even a budget full-sized model.
Given its decent performance as a video projector, I’d feared that the ML750ST might struggle as a data projector. But in fact it joins the full-sized ViewSonic LightStream Pro7827HD I tested recently in doubling up quite well for presentation use.
Colours shift tone to PC-friendly temperatures with impressive conviction, and both text and graphics look crisp and easily legible – provided you run your PC at the same resolution as the projector’s native pixel count.
If you use a different PC resolution then text and graphics can start to be affected by some softness and jagged edges – although even then the overall results for data are better than I’m used to seeing from such a small, portable projector.