Here are the measurement charts for the Optoma HD27, created using Portrait Displays' Spectracal CalMAN software. These measurements show how close the display gets to our current HDTV standards. Click on each photo to view the graph in a larger window.
The top charts show the projector's color balance, gamma, and total gray-scale Delta Error, below and after calibration. Ideally, the red, green, and blue lines will be as close together as possible to reflect a neutral color/white balance. The HD27's Reference picture mode is impressively accurate for a budget projector, with a maximum Delta Error of just 3.5 and a gamma average of 2.24 (we currently use a gamma target of 2.2 for HDTVs and 2.4 for projectors). The color/white balance leans very slightly cool, or blue. Using the RGB gain/bias controls and gamma adjustment, I was able to obtain even better results, producing a very neutral color temp, a 2.31 gamma average, and a max Delta Error of just 2.61 at the darkest end of the spectrum.
The bottom charts show where the six color points fall on the Rec 709 triangle, as well as the luminance error and total Delta Error for each color point. Again, the HD27's Reference mode has very accurate color points out of the box; blue is the least accurate with a Delta Error of 5.67. The CMS works pretty well, and I was able to further improve the accuracy of all six colors. Blue was still the least accurate (it is under-saturated), with a DE of 4.8. All the other colors ended up with a DE of 1.6 or lower.
For both gray scale and color, a Delta Error under 10 is considered tolerable, under five is considered good, and under three is considered imperceptible to the human eye. For more information on our measurement process, check out How We Evaluate and Measure HDTVs.
The HD27's limited 1.1x zoom and lack of lens shifting makes it harder to size and position the image. Since I was working with an already-installed drop-down screen, it took quite a bit of trial and error to find the best location for the projector and to precisely position the image on the screen. Even when I managed to align everything to fit my 100-inch screen, there was a slight distortion in the upper left corner of my review sample. If you're building a system from scratch, you'll have more flexibility to choose a screen size and optimal screen/projector locations.
The best thing I can say about the internal speaker is that it produces sound. Its dynamics are very limited, and it is very lean in the mids. With any dense action movie, most of the effects will be lost. There is a 3.5mm output to connect an external speaker; built-in Bluetooth would be an awesome addition, but I guess I can't really expect it in a $599 projector.
The HD27 is a bit slow to switch between resolutions, which is really only a concern if you set your disc player or set-top box to output a native or source-direct resolution. Many boxes these days don't even let you output a native resolution, but Oppo does, as an example.
Finally, the remote control is fairly sensitive. When trying to use the directional arrows to navigate through the HD27 menus, I was constantly shooting past my mark or going deeper into the menu structure than I wanted to go.
Comparison & Competition
Price-wise, the closest Epson competitors are the Powerlite Home Cinema 740HD ($599) or 750HD ($649), which offer 3,000 lumens of brightness but only a 720p resolution. The $799 Home Cinema 1040 is the cheapest 1080p model to offer comparable brightness, at 3,000 lumens. (The newer Home Cinema 2040 is also $799 but is listed at 2,200 lumens.) If you'd like to stay in the DLP realm, BenQ's older W1070 1080p DLP projector now sells for $599 and is listed at 2,000 lumens. It has been replaced by the BenQ HT1070 at $699.
If you want a big-screen home entertainment setup but have a very limited budget, you'd be hard pressed to find a better choice than Optoma's HD27 DLP projector. For $649 or less, you get a very bright, highly portable 1080p projector with 3D and MHL support. It's ideally suited for use in a room with some ambient light, where you have some flexibility in where and how you'll set up the projector. However, it also delivers better dark-room performance than many of the competitors in its price class, which makes it an even more enticing proposition in the budget category.
• Check out our Front Projectors category page to read similar reviews.
• Visit the Optoma website for more product information.
• Optoma Unveils $2,799 4K DLP Projector at HomeTheaterReview.com.