Optoma HD161X: review of the projector!

Presentation of the Optoma HD161X

The home-theater projector Optoma HD161X has now been in a detailed review and we would like to share it with you, dear readers!

The projector Optoma HD161X is sold for approximately 990€. This projector has also twin: the Optoma HD50 identical in all but the name, the black color and the extended warranty.

Thanks to Optoma Germany for having provided us a projector for this review of the Optoma HD161X.

Optoma HD161X

The Optoma HD161X is a Full HD 3D projector using the DLP technology so familiar to Optoma. The design of the projector is nice and compact.

 

The projector’s weight is 3,8 kg and it measures 28,6 x 26,6 x 12,4 cm. It is small, which makes it easy to find a place in the living room. The throw ratio varies between 1,39 – 2,09:1. It also has a manual vertical lens shift, which allows for a projection offset between 115% and 130%. That also means that the Optoma HD161X projects upwards and is thus very adequate as ceiling mounted projector.Optoma HD161X close

The menu of the projector is accessible with the remote control, but also with a top panel on the projector. This can be very helpful in order to use the projector if the remote control is not available or even lost.

The projector Optoma HD161X has all connections needed in the back panel including 2 HDMI 1.4 inputs and also a mini USB connection which is very useful to perform the firmware updates at home.Optoma HD161X back

Optoma uses the 3D RF technology with rechargeable glasses, which allows for a user friendly 3D experience. The original Optoma 3D glasses are sold for about 60€.

The remote control allows for a quick access to all important functionalities like for example sharpness adjustment. The buttons of the remote control are relatively small and as a consequence the remote is small and light. Also mentionable is the fact that calibration settings like “Color temp”, “Gamma” and “CMS” are directly accessible on the remote control, which is very comfortable.Optoma HD161X remote control

The projector in action

Movies in 2D

Out of the box the projector shows a punchy picture with high sharpness.

Especially in bright scenes the Optoma HD161X performs very well. But in dark scenes the high black level, that is typical for DLP projectors, is clearly visible and black turns to grey.

The presence of frame interpolation is a very big plus for a projector in this price class! In addition, Optoma’s FI works really well with few artefacts and film scenes with travelling or a lot of movements get really smooth.

Below you can see a few screenshots taken from the Blu-rays “Oblivion”, “The Dark Knight”, “Mission Impossible” and “Lucy”. You can click on each picture to open it in the original resolution.Optoma HD161X The Dark knight City at night Optoma HD161X Oblivion Tetraeder Optoma HD161X Oblivion Buttons Optoma HD161X Mission Inpossible Optoma HD161X Mission Impossible Tom Cruise Optoma HD161X Lucy Morgan Freeman

Movies in 3D

When looking at 3D the Optoma HD161X shows a very nice performance even in comparison to the higher priced competition by Epson, Sony and JVC. This is due to the DLP typical absence of ghosting and the high refresh rate of 120Hz. Indeed, the Optoma HD161X shows very little ghosting and no visible flickering.

The advantage of the RF technology used by Optoma in comparison to DLP link glasses is that you do not lose the 3D signal when turning your head and there is no red tint in the picture due to the synchronisation red flash of the DLP Link technology.

Furthermore the Optoma HD161X delivers a really smooth 3D experience due to the presence of its frame interpolation.

Analysis of the Sharpness

Lens quality:

The single chip DLP projectors unlike the tri-LCD projectors do not have convergence problems. The sharpness is however like always dependent on the lens quality of the projector.

You can see on the pictures below the DLP grid which shows nicely each pixel from close-up.

You can see on the cross pattern some chromatic aberration.

Optoma HD161X sharpness cross close

Overall the sharpness is great sitting at a 3,5m distance from the screen and the picture width being about 2,5m. The grid effect and chromatic aberration become invisible!Optoma HD161X Sharpness Cross

Sharpness VS Sharpness controls:

Here we make an analysis of the sharpness of the picture with different levels of “Ultra Detail”, Optoma’s numerical sharpness improvement system.

On the sharpness test pattern of the reference disc AVS HD 709, we have progressively increased the level of Ultra Detail from “off” to “on” to “HD+”. We see clearly that the lines but also the numbers show more and more artifacts as we increase the numerical sharpness treatment. Indeed, on the lines we see more and more crosses and on the numbers some white ringing is appearing.

Optoma HD161X Sharpness Ultra detail off Optoma HD161X Sharpness Ultra detail onOptoma HD161X Sharpness Ultra detail HD+

We advise to use the setting “on” to get a good sharpness boost without much artefacts.Optoma HD161X Oblivion Ultra detail off Optoma HD161X Oblivion Ultra detail onOptoma HD161X Oblivion Ultra detail HD+

Another illustration of the effect of the sharpness control:Optoma HD161X Monsters Inc Ultra detail off Optoma HD161X Monsters Inc Ultra detail onOptoma HD161X Monsters Inc Ultra detail HD+

Uniformity

Our exemplar of the Optoma HD161X shows on a white pattern with 100 IRE a perfectly white and uniform picture.

On dark content however, there is some background noise in the picture. The Optoma HD161X is not the only projector with this problem. In fact, many DLP projectors show this behavior to different degrees.

Here a picture that we have taken on 4% APL level. You can see clearly some dots on the background which should NOT be there. It should be instead a smooth dark grey background.Optoma HD161X near black noise

Colors: Out of the box

Out of the box, the projector has 6 predefined modes: cinema, reference, bright, vivid, game and user. Every mode was analyzed with the colorimeter i1 Display Pro profiled to the spectrophotometer i1 Pro 2 with the software Chromapure. The measurements were taken off our screen: Elunevision Reference Studio 4K 100 (gain 1).

The mode that is closest to the norm REC 709 is the mode Reference with a relatively flat gamma curve with an average of 2.19 and an average CIE94 dE of 5.3 for the colors and 6.0 for the grayscale. That’s not a bad performance for the price class. However, a calibration will be necessary to get the best out of the projector and correct a push of the blue color (color temperature of 7293 instead of 6500K).

Ideally, you would like to have a flat gamma curve of 2.2 and a CIE94 DeltaE under 2 for all colors and the grayscale. Furthermore, you want to adjust the brightness and contrast to the right level. With that, the black will not be crushed, the white levels will not be clipped and the color will be natural and as close to to the movie producer’s choice as possible.

Here are the Chromapure results for the grayscale and the CIE diagram for a saturation of 100% and brightness amplitude of 100%. The projector is positioned with zoom MAX. The lamp had 117 hours.

The picture width projected on the screen was 250 cm for all these measurements.

Out of the box: detailed predefined mode analysis:

CinemaOptoma HD161X Cinema Grayscale Optoma HD161X Cinema Color Gamut

ReferenceOptoma HD161X Reference Grayscale Optoma HD161X Reference Color Gamut

BrightOptoma HD161X Bright Grayscale Optoma HD161X Bright Color Gamut

VividOptoma HD161X Vivid Grayscale Optoma HD161X Vivid Color Gamut

GameOptoma HD161X Game Grayscale Optoma HD161X Game Color Gamut

UserOptoma HD161X User Grayscale Optoma HD161X User Color Gamut

Calibration of the projector

The measurements were taken off our screen: Elunevision Reference Studio 4K 100 (gain 1).

The calibration is based on the “Reference” mode with the lamp brightness put on ECO.

For the color calibration, we used  patterns of 75% saturation and 75% brightness.

  • Grayscale & RGB analysis:

The Grayscale after calibration of the preset Reference shows a good behavior with a CIE94 DeltaE below 2 for all gray levels between 10% and 100%.

Grayscale (pre=Reference & Post=calibrated):Optoma HD161X Grayscale dE Optoma HD161X Grayscale RGB
  • CIE and color management analysis:

The colors in the CIE after calibration of the mode Reference shows a good behavior with all CIE94 DeltaE values below 3 and 1.8 as average for 75% brightness and 75% saturation.

CIE chart at 75% saturation (pre=Reference & Post=calibrated):Optoma HD161X CIE Diagram Optoma HD161X Chromaticity Optoma HD161X Color Errors
  • Gamma analysis:

The gamma curve is pretty linear around 2.2, which is very good.

Gamma (pre=Cinema & Post=calibrated):Optoma HD161X Gamma

In-depth analysis of all saturation levels after calibration:

For 75% brightness, the Optoma HD161X shows a good tracking within the CIE diagramm.

The calibration is valid not only for 75% saturation, but also for 25% and 50% saturation. But for 100% saturation the error values are larger.

Calibration Conclusion: 

The projector Optoma HD161X needed some effort to get calibrated. The controls were sometimes not as responsive as we would have liked. But in the end the calibrated picture of the Optoma HD161X is very enjoyable! Thank you, Optoma!

Brightness & Screen size recommandation

The Optoma HD161X is bright enough for projection on a big screen, even though it is not as bright as many other projectors in its price class. After calibration in the low lamp mode the Optoma HD161X puts out 546 lumens. This is perfect for a screen width between 2.0m and 2.7m.

The highest number of Lumens is achieved in the Bright mode with 951 Lumens. It could be useful to watch football on a bright day.

Please click on the table below to get the brightness for all predefined mode and the calibration. A recommandation for the right screen size is also given.

Optoma HD161X Brightness

Advanced contrast measurements

A great number of contrast measurements were made to deliver you results that are unique in the world. Actually, in the different tests of projectors around the world you can often find native contrast measurements (ON-OFF with one picture completely black and one completely white) and sometimes ANSI contrast measurements (checkerboard with 50% white and 50% black).

The problem is that these contrast values are two extremes, but most images from movies are in between.

Have a look at our article where we made a big brightness analysis of 53 movies:

http://projectiondream.com/en/movie-brightness-adl-contrast-measurements/

Therefore we have created appropriate patterns in order to give you contrast curves BETWEEN 0% and 50% white in the middle of the screen:

Contrastpictures

Also our optimized room has the advantage of being transformable into a room with white walls and ceiling. Thus it is easy to compare the contrast performance under very different conditions:

  • with opened curtains (comparable to a living room with white walls, reality of home theater in many homes)
  • with closed curtains (optimized room with black floor, ceiling and walls)
  • measurement at the lens (highest contrast possible, but not reachable in any room)

Illustration of our reversible room:

Left: opened curtains / Right: closed curtains

Projectiondream.com Room

In the following table are the contrast results measured in the middle of the screen for the Optoma HD161X:

Optoma HD161X Contrast table

 

To visualize these numbers, here the resulting 3 contrast curves.

The scale on the contrast axis is logarithmic to represent the perception of the human eye. For example your eyes will see the same difference between a contrast increase from 1000:1 to 2000:1 and a contrast increase from 10000:1 to 20000:1.

Optoma HD161X Contrast

The curves confirm that the Optoma HD161X has a contrast performance that is typical for DLPs: The ANSI contrast is high and the On-off contrast is not the best, but good for the price class. In our optimized room we measured a modified ANSI contrast value of 380:1 (for 50% ADL). The On-off contrast was around 1550:1.Optoma HD161X on-off

Remember our results from the ADL analysis (with a gamma of 2.2) of 53 famous movies:

  • 90% of all movie pictures have a brightness below 20% (ADL=% of white)
  • 80% of all movie pictures have a brightness below 13%
  • 50% of all movie pictures have a brightness below 5%
  • The average brightness/ADL of all analyzed movies is 8%

Average-All-Films_ADL_4

Overall we can say that the Optoma HD161X has a solid contrast performance. In bright scenes it delivers a punchy picture, but in dark scenes black turns into grey.

CONCLUSION

The projector Optoma HD161X, currently sold for 1200€, gives a very nice and enjoyable home cinema experience. If you are planning to buy a projector in the price class 1000€ – 1500€, the Optoma HD161X is a good choice.

Sharpness and motion:

The Optoma HD161X delivers a typical DLP-sharp picture. The UltraDetail sharpness improvement system from Optoma works also very well and increases the precision of the picture even more . The motion handling is very good, thanks to Optoma’s frame interpolation Pure Motion.

Contrast:

The contrast behaviour is DLP-like with a typical relatively high ANSI contrast. As a result the picture looks nice in bright scenes. In dark scenes you can clearly see the typical DLP black level, when black begins to look a bit grey.

Silence:

The Optoma HD161X is not the most quiet projector, but the noise is acceptable if ceiling mounted and in ECO mode. The high lamp mode, which is needed for 3D, is quite noisy.

Out of the box colors & calibration:

Out of the box the colors and greyscale are not very close to the norm, but it is possible to get a good calibration. The gamma behavior is already very good out of the box!

Brightness & Recommended screen size

The projector is not very bright in comparison to other projectors of the price class, but still the ECO mode is enough for most screen sizes in 2D: 546 Lumens  after calibration with maximal zoom. This is perfect for a screen width between 2.0m and 2.7m.

Positive

– the price

– the native sharpness

– the UltraDetail sharpness improvement system

– the frame interpolation

– the nice 3D performance with no ghosting, a high refresh rate and RF glasses

– the good ANSI contrast

– the controls for calibration

– the small size

– the presence of a small vertical lens shift

Negative

– low contrast in dark scenes

– picture noise in dark scenes

– noisy in the high lamp mode which is necessary to watch 3D

– a calibration is necessary

 

10 Comments

  1. It might also be worth mentioning that the hd50/161 has much higher input-lag than typical for a relatively inexpensive DLP which cannot be overcome.

    • Hello Aahab,

      thank you for that information.

      We do not measure the input lag (yet) and so, we typically do not comment on it.

      Cheers,
      Anna&Flo 😉

  2. Very good review. Is it possible to publish your calibrated color settings so that the buyer has an opportunity to adjust his settings based on yours?
    Or maybe you could give a little bit information which settings should be touched in which direction. Would be very nice!

    • Hi Daglax,

      sorry for the delay.

      Thank you a lot for the nice compliment. We really appreciate it.
      We did not write down the calibrated settings because in general they can not be transfered to another person using a different projector in a different environnement.
      But, we will tried to give general indications in the future.

      Regards,
      Anna&Flo

      • Np. As i am owning the HD161X/HD50 now for quite some time now i managed to buy me a i1 Display Pro and calibrated the device for myself. One thing i noted at the beginning is that the calibrated settings from other users or reviews around the net produced most of the time a picture worse than the factory settings.
        there are indeed some big differences between the devices. So the only thing that really is helpful is to give general indications as mentioned by yourself (e.g. way too much green in white etc.).

        • Hi Daglax,

          that’s very good news that you got a i1 display pro to calibrate the projector for yourself.

          Did you achieve good results and could you see the difference?

          Also, we completely agree that calibration settings from another unit can hurt more than it helps.
          Many people do not know that.

          Regards,
          Anna&Flo

          • Yep i managed to get very good results with grayscale well under dE 1 and colors under dE 3. Greycale was very easy to calibrate, colors were a lot harder and took me quite some time.
            There was too much Green in the picture an Red is a bit low overall.

            Difference was very much noticeable with way more natural colors. Unfortunately after calibration, there is always a bit of a light loss and the colors do not pop anymore as they did in the default cinema preset.

            If I’m watching with friends and visitors i tend to activate the cinema default because most people do like the popping unnatural colors more than accurate ones.

  3. As this projector has the same body as the vivitek h1188 does it also suffer with major dust blob issues.
    I was about to but the h1188 until I found out about the dust blobs

    Thanks

    • As i own the projector for quite some time now, i can say that there are issues with dust in the light engine. The light engine is not really closed. But you cant see hairs or dust on your screen, because its out of focus. On completly dark environment you’ll notice a slightly brighter image area on the projection screen.
      But overall nothing that would be really noticeable during movies. I’d say its a very minor issue.

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