Optoma HD20 Single-chip 1080p DLP Projector



The HD20 is a single-chip DLP design, based on TI’s 1080 Dark Chip2 DMD. That is not the most advanced DLP chip, but keep in mind that everything about the HD20 is designed around meeting a price point. For example, all single chip DLP projectors use a rapidly spinning wheel to create color images (unlike LCD projectors, which use three separate chips—one each for red, green and blue). The spinning color wheel can produce an artifact called the “rainbow effect,” a flash of colors that appear on the edge of white images. Some people are quite sensitive to the rainbow effects; others never see them. Generally speaking, the faster the color wheel, the less likely users are going to see rainbow effects. The HD20 uses a six-segment, 4x speed color wheel; more expensive single-chip DLP projectors use 5x or 6x color wheels. Of course, if you’re not sensitive to rainbow effects, it’s a non-issue.

The other major limitation dictated by the HD20’s cost-conscious design is its limited lens adjustments. The HD20’s lens is fixed; it does not adjust on either horizontal or vertical axes. Likewise, the manual zoom is quite modest, providing only 1.2:1 zoom range.

What this means in the real world is that placement options for the HD20 are limited. My main listening room is laid out primarily for audio. So the “sweet spot” is located at the apex of an equilateral triangle from the left and right front speakers, 10.5 feet from the projector screen (an 84” diagonal Elite Screens EZ Cinema Plus). Other projectors with vertical lens adjustments and greater zoom capabilities were set up either on a coffee table in front of my love seat, or on a portable shelf behind me. Neither of these options were possible with the HD20, as the throw range for filling an 84” screen is limited to between nine and 11 feet, smack in the middle of the prime seating position. So during my time with the Optoma, I had to move my love seat to the side of the room, placed the projector shelf where my love seat normally went, and flanked it with two chairs. While not everyone will have those same challenges, the moral is that buyers interested in the HD20 need to carefully measure their room to make sure the Optoma is suitable for their living space.