“Should I buy a 4K projector?” It's a question we've been hearng more frequently and although there are now plenty of home cinema projectors around that can handle the new resolution, we strongly believe that there's still a place in the home theater for Full HD projectors like the Optoma HD27e.
Why? Well given that the native 16:9 aspect ratio HD27e costs just $649 / £549 / AU$1,499, you could make a case for Full HD projectors being the current sweetspot of home entertainment technology – up to 100-inch images in thoroughly watchable detail for the same cost as a TV four times smaller.
To that end, brighter and quieter than the Optoma HD27, the HD27e may not be 4K, with its stunning 3,400 lumens of brightness, built-in 10W speaker and compatibility with the likes of Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV, the HD27e does appear to be a versatile all-in-one ripe for a summer of sport.
Design and setup
At 316 x 244 x 108mm (11.7 x 3.7 x 9 inches) and 2.9kg, not only is the HD27e highly portable and easy to carry but, thankfully, it's relatively simple to set-up, too.
Although it can produce, in theory, a 300-inch image, plan on creating an 80-inch image from about 2.5m away. Should you plan on moving it closer or further away, however, there's always Optoma's distance calculator.
The only problem we found during setup is that its rather weak manual 1.1 zoom does make it slightly tricky to position – but basic vertical keystone correction software should be able to accurately aim the HD27e.
Shipping with a small remote that is instantly backlit the moment you touch it, the HD27e's rear panel has a couple of HDMI inputs (both 1.4 spec), and a USB slot that can support the likes of Google Chromecast and Amazon FireStick.
That might be enough for some, but the absence of any legacy video inputs cold irritate if, for instance, you have an old Nintendo Wii hanging around. Other ins and outs back there include an 3.5mm audio output and a 12V trigger for using the HD27e within a home cinema control system.
If you're still watching 3D Blu-ray discs, know that the HD27e is compatible if you buy Optoma's 3D specs.
Although the HD27e is clearly designed to be used in all kinds of ambient light conditions, a complete blackout is necessary to get the measure of its image quality for movies: Put into Cinema mode with the lamp on Eco (which also ensures the HD27e will reach a dizzying 10,000 hours), the color accuracy is immediately obvious.
The HD27e reaches the Rec709 standard, which is less vibrant than the HDR trend in TVs, but impressive nonetheless. Even black is delivered well enough for the HD27e's low price, and detail is high enough on broadcast TV, even at 80-inches+.
Put into Game mode, ProEvolution Soccer retains excellent color, and though some motion blur slightly dampens-down detail, it remains a consistently involving image.
However, the HD27e isn't quite as bright as we had hoped. Used on a dull, overcast day, flinging-open the blinds didn't much affect the HD27e's claimed 3,400 lumens bright image. On a sunny day, the picture does significantly degrade even in Bright mode, though it remained just about watchable. Using Game mode ups it further.
We didn't have high hopes for the speaker, but in use its 10W proved more than enough for using the HD27e somewhere without a separate sound system – it's not terribly clear and it's certainly not suited to a musical soundtrack, but it's enough for sports commentary and games. However, run a long 3.5mm audio cable from the rear of the HD27e to a small Bluetooth speaker (which usually have a 3.5mm input) and it's possible to create a basic sound system that's easily good enough for watching sports or playing games. That only adds to the HD27e's main claim of versatility and value, but its images always impress at this low price.
For those who do suffer from the ‘rainbow effect’ when watching some DLP projectors (only some people are affected by this visual artifact caused by the sequential creation of colors by single-chip DLP projectors), know that the HD27e caused no significant problems to this previous sufferer.
The entry-level Optoma HD27e does not claim to deliver best-ever images, but for anyone looking for a projector to take anywhere and do anything, it will do an excellent job.
There are some things it could do better – it could do with a better zoom to make positioning easier, and it's perhaps not quite as bright as it should be in practice – but aside from those caveats it's unusually convenient. It's highly portable, has its own basic sound system, and delivers reasonably impressive images across the board. Add a dongle and you can create your own smart, bright and super-sized images for watching sports during the day, and a movie when it gets dark.
Is the HD27e capable of completely replacing a TV for a 'wallpaper' projection? Probably not, but as an occasional projector, it's hard to criticize at this price. Who needs 4K when Full HD can be this much affordable fun?
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