The H79 is the flagship product in Optoma's Custom
Series of home theater projectors, and features the DarkChip3(tm) DLP chip
and an 8-segment color wheel, thus assuring state-of-the-art performance.
The H79 also has a power focus and zoom, a light shield designed to minimize
stray light from the projector reaching the screen, and ultra-quiet
operation with a noise level specification of 22 dB with the Brightmode off.
The H79 is certainly the quietest projector I have experienced, even in the
Bright mode where the noise level is specified at 23 dB. Other significant
specifications include: 1000 ANSI lumens brightness and a contrast ratio of
The power zoom range is 1.6 to 2.16:1 meaning that the H79 has a relatively
short throw ratio, i.e., it is designed to be placed about the seating area,
not on the back wall. The H79 has manual vertical lens shift (very handy)
but not horizontal lens shift, so you will need to place the lens of the
projector carefully in the center of the screen.
In fact, with its short throw ratio, the H79 makes a
very good replacement for my Sony 11HT, another projector with a relatively
short throw ratio, that I have owned for a number of years now, and used as
a reference projector for reviews. I have seen and reviewed many fine
projectors during that time, but none that really convinced me it was time
to spend my money on a new projector. The fact that I could place the H79 in
the same general location on the ceiling as my 11HT, plus the ultra quiet
operation and excellent picture quality convinced me that now was the time
to upgrade. The picture of the H79 above is of the review unit mounted on my
(Steve Smallcombe) ceiling using Optoma's Bering ceiling mount. The review's
co-author (Sumit Chawla) also purchased an H79 after seeing the performance
of the review unit.
Inputs and Connectivity
The H79 inputs are located on the back of the projector. The following set
of inputs is provided: composite, S-Video, component (RCA/BNC), RGBHV (BNC),
and DVI-I (HDCP compliant). The BNC connectors are shared, and they accept
either RGB or YPbPr signals. Missing is an HDMI input which I hope Optoma
will add to their next generation of projectors.
An RS-232 input is provided to interface with external control systems. The
RS-232 protocol can be downloaded from the Optoma website. Two 12V relay
connectors are also provided.
The H79 remote is backlit. Any time a button is pressed the buttons light up.
The text on the buttons is a little small, but it is readable in the dark.
The buttons are well laid out, but their spacing is a little tight. There
are discrete buttons to access the different inputs. An
aspect ratio selection button cycles through the different modes. The
H79 has powered zoom and focus, and these can be adjusted conveniently
through the remote control.
The Re-sync button deserves special mention.
When using the DVI input, this button switches Video levels (the default) to
PC levels. This is not mentioned in the user manual. It came to my attention
in some forums, and Optoma confirmed this functionality.
A subset of the buttons found on the remote control is replicated on the
projector. In addition to the buttons, there is a lens shift dial which can
be used to shift the image up or down. There is a power switch located to
the side of the projector, and it is worth mentioning because the bright
blue power LED located next to it is bright enough that you might want to
put some tape over it. Optoma should lower its brightness or better still,
allow the user to turn it off during regular operation.
menu system is grouped into four categories: Picture, Image, System, and
Display. The Picture menu contains three presets labeled Cinema, Normal,
and Vivid. Each preset contains factory optimized settings for Contrast,
Brightness, Color, Hue, Sharpness, and Gamma. The default settings for each
preset can be overwritten. The Color sub-menu is disabled when the DVI
input is being used. The Hue sub-menu is disabled when a DVI, component, or
an analog RGB input is being used.
can control the input source-specific settings using the Image menu. Three
color temperature settings are provided in order of increasing
(cooler/bluer) color temperature.
Unlike several projectors where the color gain
(contrast) and bias (brightness) controls are buried in a service menu, the H79 provides them in the
user menu. I wish that more projector manufacturers would make these
controls accessible through their user visible menu system. The color
temperature options and the gain/bias settings are somewhat tied together.
To calibrate the projector to the D65 standard, one must pick a color
temperature setting, say 2, and then use the gain and bias settings to
converge on the established chromaticity coordinates. The color temperature
settings are relative rather than absolute, so there is no way to obtain a
desired color temperature for the three different options. It would have
been nicer to have gain/bias controls for each color temperature setting.
A White Peaking option is provided, and it adjusts the peak brightness by
changing the color wheel's operating parameters. There is an Image mode sub-menu
with three factory presets: Film, Video, and TV. The manual does not say what
these settings really do other than that they have been "optimized for
various types of images". According to Optoma these three presets are
pre-defined gammas from TI that are applied on the DMD side. When you
combine these with the five gamma options that Optoma provides (these are
applied on the scaler) in the Picture menu, you get a total of fifteen
gamma combinations. Finally there is a Signal sub-menu where the
horizontal/vertical position can be adjusted along with some timing
controls. This sub-menu is only enabled for analog RGB and YPbPr input
Both the Picture and Image menus have a Reset option which can be used
to return either the current menu's settings or all the menu settings to
their factory defaults.
System menu is where the language used for the menus can be selected. Bulb
usage can be viewed in the Bulb sub-menu, which is a reminder for when the bulb has
aged 1500 hours.
The following sub-menus specify
what the projector does when no active input is detected: Source Lock (do
not cycle through all the inputs if the signal is not detected), Auto Shutdown (time interval after a signal is not detected to shutdown the
projector), and Blanking (display a black or blue screen where there is no
signal). The Bright Mode sub-menu is where one can increase the lamp
brightness. Finally one can specify the color space (Auto, RGB, or YPbPr) to
use for the current input.
Display menu contains all the installation- specific controls.
Vertical/horizontal keystone correction can be performed, but it is best
left unused. Front/rear or ceiling/table installation can be specified for
the projector. A digital zoom control is available if you wish to magnify
the image. The Format button specifies the default aspect ratio to use. The
options available include: Native, 16:9, Letterbox, and Window (for 4:3
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