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Optoma The tweaker's choice

The Short Form
WWW.OPTOMAUSA.COM / 888-289-6786 / $1,299 / 14.5 x 4.625 x 10.75 IN / 7.75 LBS
•Detailed picture highlights. •Full set of picture adjustments. •Simple setup.
•Remote control not backlit. •Mediocre shadow detail. •Limited zoom-lens range. •Stereo sound from speakers lacks focus. •No bass module.
Key Features
•$1,299 •HD-compatible component-video input •854 x 480-pixel DLP light engine •Built-in DVD player •1.11x zoom lens •Carrying case included
Test Bench
Out of the box, color temperature ranged from over 12,500 K to 10,500 K. After calibration, it came close to the 6,500-K standard. A +5% green and -10% red color-decoder error was visible on all sources. The lens showed almost no distortion throughout its zoom range. Full lab results
At first glance, it's almost unbelievable that Optoma actually fit a projector, DVD player, and two speakers into the small, stylish casing of its MovieTime DV-10. True, the MovieTime doesn't come with a subwoofer or bass module, but it offers a surprisingly full set of picture adjustments. The supplied padded carrying case is another nice touch - it makes the Optoma that much easier to take on the road.

SETUP & USE The Optoma fires upward - I was easily able to set it down on a coffee table and still project an image on an eye-level screen. The short 1.11x zoom range limits placement, but thankfully, on our table, the Optoma beamed an image that filled our 92-inch (diagonal) screen from a distance of 8 feet. The DV-10's speakers, mounted inside its curved feet, face outward at 45° angles. This creates a wider soundstage than the Epson or RadioShack provide - a little too wide, actually. It might be nice for a big group, but the poor souls sitting right behind the projector will probably notice a hole in the sound field.

Inputs and outputs are on the rear. The VGA input doubles as a component-video input via a supplied adapter, and it will accept anything from 480i (interlaced) standard-definition to 720p (progressive-scan) and 1080i high-def sources. An optical digital audio output is provided to jack into a surround sound system. The DVD player opens from the top of the projector. There's no display window for status or track info, so you'll have to rely on the onscreen display, but a full set of controls is built into the trim around the DVD drawer if you lose the remote. Speaking of remotes, the DV-10's isn't backlit.

The projector menu is the most extensive of the group. Among the picture controls are color-temperature presets, display modes, and more. But the RGB gain and offset controls, which allow detailed color adjustment, are great tools.

PICTURE QUALITY Although Optoma uses an improved seven-segment color wheel in the MovieTime's DLP light engine, I still saw an occasional multicolored flash, or "rainbow." But there was barely any screen-door effect at my viewing distance of approximately 10 feet.

Out of the box, the MovieTime's colors were vivid and saturated. The overall picture leaned toward blue, but I was able to use its controls to create a more realistic-looking picture. After adjustment, the Optoma's color rendition was greatly improved - colors looked even more natural than on the Epson and were even richer than before.

In Chapter 7 from The Longest Yard, the DV-10 revealed about the same shadow detail in dark pictures as the other projectors - in other words, not much. Thankfully, the Optoma did a better job with highlights in brighter scenes. As Sandler challenged another inmate to a basketball game, the seam that defines the collar in his white tee shirt was plainly visible.

High-def programs, including The Sopranos and Commander in Chief looked surprisingly good. The MovieTime might not be as sharp as a true high-def projector, but its downconversion circuitry did a credible job, and the HDTV programs I watched all looked solid and clean.

BOTTOM LINE The Optoma MovieTime DV-10 didn't look perfect out of the box, but with some adjustment it delivered the best picture of this lot with both DVDs and HD broadcasts. Granted, its sound quality left something to be desired. But if you can hook it to a surround system, all will be forgiven once the lights go down.