Optoma HD29H full review
We’ve previously covered projectors from Optoma and found them generally to be well made, feature filled and highly cost effective. The Optoma HD29H is one of a new range of projectors that are designed specifically for the gaming market, with remarkably low latency, support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) input and 120MHz signals.
And, with a lamp capable of generating a whopping 3400 lumens of light, you shouldn’t need to close all the blinds to use this one in the daytime. With low latency LCD screen panels having limited colour representation and viewing angles, is projection the way to go for the serious gamer?
When we got the review hardware, we immediately needed to clarify a point about this design, because in different regions Optoma has models tweaked to each locale.
Therefore, you can find a similarly specified machine in the USA with a different number code, but this design is exclusively for the EMEA market. It's the Optoma HD27HDR at $579 via Amazon. Just bear in mind that it's a little different specs-wise to the one we've tested here.
That might seem a little on the steep side for a 1080p projector. But, as this is designed specifically for gaming use, it isn’t excessive. That price makes it cheaper than both the ACER Predator Z650 (£799) and BenQ W1210ST (£778).
It is undercut by the £426 ViewSonic PX700HD, but that model isn’t HDR compliant.
Check out our best projectors chart.
Design & Build
Before we get to the critical internal parts, we should complement Optoma on the quality of its exterior cases.
Every Optoma projector we’ve seen used high-quality tooling for the case and the HD29H has a marvellous example of plastic injection artwork that has both smooth and textured surfaces that neatly package the internal parts.
This one has many slots and vents to allow plenty of air to flow in and out. A choice that reduces the need for a high fan RPM unless the ambient temperature is high. This model can be table or wall/ceiling mounted, and it has the classic arrangement of three feet where each of them can be vertically adjusted to achieve the perfect projection angle.
If you do intend to mount it up high, make sure you use a proper mounting because the 2.87kg (6.2 lbs.) the unit weighs could do some damage if it fell on someone.
Both zoom and focus are manual controls on the optical assembly, but vertical keystone correction is adjustable from the provided remote control. There is no horizontal keystone control. At the rear are two HDMI inputs, one of these being rated for 4K operation, and thankfully no VGA inputs.
This design has a decent 10-watt internal speaker, but a 3.5mm audio jack output is also included should you want to connect an external HiFi system or headphones. For those that want to watch in 3D, a port is included to enable synchronisation with RF 3D glasses.
And, for those who want to use a Chromecast or similar device that can be powered from USB, a power-only USB (5V 1.5A) is alongside the HDMI ports, making for a very simple cabling scenario.
The unit can be easily operated either with a small button pad on the top surface or the remote, which lights up for those who might be using it in a darkened room. The remote control is decent quality even if the design seems borrowed from another projector, as it has buttons for selecting VGA inputs that this hardware doesn’t sport.
Even if it has the odd redundant button, the remote gives you access to an extensive on-screen menu where you can configure the aspect ratio, gaming modes, Dynamic range, wall colour and a dozen other settings. You can disable HDR dynamic range enhancement and adjust sharpness and colour saturation to your preferences.
As nice as having all these controls are, we found that the projector was almost ideal out of the box, and messing about with the gamma, etc. was mostly a recipe for diminishing returns.
Specs & Features
One aspect of this design needs some explanation because it is easy to get the impression that this projector supports 4K. In a sense, it does, but only for input.
The native projection solution, as provided by the Texas Instruments 0.65in 1080p DMD, is as that hardware implies 1080p. Therefore, if you send a 4K signal into the one HDMI port on the HD29H that supports it, the projector will downsample the information to 1080p to project it.
That effectively means it throws away 75% of the information contained in the data, or take four pixels and average them into one, depending on how you look at it.
In most situations, this will look fine, although it wouldn’t compare for detail with a true 4K projector or the same information on a 4K LCD panel.
However, there is an upside to this choice for those who don’t have the very latest video card technology. Relatively few computers can maintain 120fps at 4K, but significantly more can at 1080p. And, as this design can handle a 120Hz refresh and has, according to Optoma, an 8.4ms response, it could be a limitation that is worth living with.
In our testing, the HD29H worked flawlessly, and the response level is as good as Optoma claims. We attached it to a laptop and ran both the integrated display and the projector to see if any perceivable lag existed, and there wasn’t any in Game mode.
Yes, a TN screen is even faster, but given that many titles are played online these days, with at least 25-30ms of server lag, the response time is more than acceptable compared to using a TV.
No projector review should avoid mentioning the life of the bulb, an overhead that potential owners need to consider.
On the HD29H the bulb is rated for 15,000 hours in Dynamic mode, 10,000 hours in Eco and just 6,000 hours at maximum brightness. For those that use the projector for four hours a day should see four years use out of the bulb before replacement, even at the brightest setting.
A replacement is likely to cost around £200, but hopefully, you shouldn't need one for a while.
Another issue for Europeans is that to get the full scale of projection requires a room larger than most that home has. While it has a Zoom, the ratio is only 1.1x, and to get an image 150inwide you need to be nearly 18ft back. To get the full 300in limit requires a throw of more than 35ft, putting it out of reach to all but a very few Europeans.
Should you wish to sit nearer to the projected image, you should also be aware that the IR remote control has a range of just 26ft.
And, going beyond the 100in display mark also needs the elimination of daylight, even with 3400 lumens this lamp generates.
Those that go looking for a low latency gaming projector won’t find one with this specification anywhere near the price Optoma is asking for the HD29H.
Compared with a typical TV, even an expensive one, the latency is dramatically lower making for a more consistent and enjoyable gaming experience. The colour gamut is also very good even if you aren’t using a console or computer with HDR active, and that makes it pretty good for viewing TV and movies.
If you’ve enough space to mount it far enough back and can control ambient lighting, then you can easily have a 150in or larger screen for some utterly immersive gaming. It also has a relatively quiet fan, and the internal speaker is fine unless you must have stereo separation.
Our only reservations are that it doesn’t come with a lens protector or cover of any kind, and the optics are best suited to those who have a lounge the size of a tennis court.
Optoma has managed to impress us again with another product that delivers excellent output at a lower than expected price.
Optoma HD29H: Specs
- Display technology: DLP
- Screen size: 0.71m - 7.65m (28in - 301in) (diagonal)
- Resolution: 1080p Full HD (1920x1080)
- Brightness: 3,400 lumens
- Zoom: 1.1x
- Contrast ratio: 50,000:1
- Native aspect ratio: 16:9
- Aspect ratio: 4:3
- Keystone correction - vertical: +/-40°
- Horizontal scan rate: 15.38 ~ 91.15Khz
- Vertical scan rate: 50 ~ 85(120 for 3D)Hz
- Uniformity: 80%
- Lamp life (hours): 6000 (Bright), 15000 (Dynamic), 10000 (Eco)
- Ports: 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Audio 3.5mm, 1 x USB-A power 1.5A
- Audio: 1x 10W speaker
- Dimension: 316 x 244 x 108mm
- Weight: 2.87kg