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Optoma HD39HDR Review – IGN

We won’t bury the lede: The Optoma HD39HDR is one of the brightest projectors that you can buy for under $1000. But that isn’t all this intriguing new product is capable of. While it does have a few puzzling omissions that are hard to overlook, the HD39HDR features remarkably low input lag and incredibly handy installation features for a price that makes it hard to beat. For anyone searching for an HD projector that works well in virtually every environment without breaking the bank, the HD39HDR gets darn close to being a dream come true.

Optoma HD39HDR

Specifications

  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Brightness: 4500 ANSI Lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: 50,000:1
  • Input Lag: [email protected]
  • Resolution support: accepts up to 4K (3840 x 2160) input
  • Connections: one HDMI 2.0 input, one HDMI 1.4a input, one VGA output, one VGA input, one 3.5mm audio input, one 3.5mm audio output

Optoma HD39HDR – Design and Features

The HD39HDR adheres to what’s considered to be conventional projector dimensions at this point, with the benefit of being fairly lightweight at just under eight pounds. Essentially, if you wanted to move this projector around the house, or maybe into the backyard for a summer movie night, you won’t break a sweat doing so. The remote follows a similarly minimalistic approach, though this compact controller fits most buttons that the average projector user would need into its design. From dedicated buttons for each individual source to manual keystone correction buttons, it’s a handy remote to have by your side as you adjust settings with the HD39HDR.

On the subject of getting set up, Optoma makes it easy to dial in the most proportionate image possible for your specific space. With options like keystone correction, 1.3x zoom and image shifting capabilities, I was able to match the image nicely with my 120-inch screen without having to place the projector in a precise position in the room. Plus, the HD39HDR has a wall color adjustment that lets you select the color that you’re projecting onto, with options including blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, pink, and gray. You can also opt to not choose a wall color at all, which seemed to work the best for the screen I was using to test the projector.

As simple as the HD39HDR is to set up and begin using, it does suffer from an apparent lack of features and a somewhat disappointing lineup of available connections. There’s no WiFi or streaming capabilities built into the HD39HDR – something that competitors like BenQ built into their new gaming projector, the X1300i – meaning you will need to connect your own console or streaming device to access your favorite content. To be fair, streaming sticks are ridiculously cheap these days, and the vast majority of them have faster, more competent operating systems than almost any built-in streaming platform on a projector. It is, however, nice to have an alternative should an external source not be available for whatever reason.

The HD39HDR has two HDMI ports, though the fact that one is HDMI 2.0 and the other is HDMI 1.4 is a small letdown since the latter only supports 4K video frame rates up to 30hz. More unsettling is the collection of audio connections, which is glaringly missing a digital optical output. HDMI may be the easier way to go for audio needs these days, but the digital optical port was always a solid backup, especially for setups that feature older home theater systems or soundbars. The supplied 3.5mm input and output will technically get the job done, but they are far less versatile connections overall than the trusty optical port.

Optoma HD39HDR – Performance

Brightness is the name of the game with the HD39HDR, and boy does it bring it. With 4500 lumens of brightness, it is capable of producing a clear, detailed image regardless of what kind of light it may be competing with in your viewing space. From the middle of the day with sunlight infiltrating my office to late at night watching movies in a darkened room, the HD39HDR consistently delivered an impressively clear, visible image. It can get a little carried away at times, with display modes like Presentation and Bright tending to wash out the colors displayed in the image. But for the most part, the brightness of this projector is a huge asset that sets it apart from others in its price range.

The HD39HDR is a 1080p projector, though it can accept a 4K input and is HDR-10 compatible. While we’d love to get a true 4K projector at this price (maybe one day!), the HD39HDR still produces a solid image given the tools it has to work with. The projector has a 6-segment color wheel (RYGCWB), and it has plenty of opportunities to prove its capabilities while watching HDR content like Netflix’s Life In Color, narrated by none other than David Attenborough. It may not have the color accuracy or magnificent contrast that an OLED panel would offer, but scenes like a sprawling shot through the rainforests of New Guinea were surprisingly vibrant.

Though the HD39HDR’s input lag is on par with more expensive options like the BenQ x1300i ([email protected] compared to [email protected]), it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t built to primarily operate as a gaming projector. Make no mistake, you’ll still achieve wonderfully smooth gameplay with input lag that low. But compared to something like the X1300i, which had a trio of gaming modes that adjusted the image to meet the needs of certain types of gameplay, the HD39HDR is a bit less accommodating. Aside from its Enhanced Gaming Mode, the HD39HDR feels more like a balanced projector that handles movies and gaming equally well. Depending on how your usage breaks down, that may or may not be an issue.

Despite the comparative lack of gaming-specific modes, the HD39HDR does give you plenty of ways to play with the picture it’s producing. There’s more standard options like brightness, contrast, and sharpness. And there’s more intricate color settings like color temperature, color matching and RGB gain/bias. Personally, I made a few tweaks to the picture here and there, but was mostly satisfied with the default settings that the HD39HDR came out of the box with. If you’re inclined to dig deep into the image settings, though, Optoma supplied nearly all of the tools to do so.

Optoma says it built a 10-watt speaker into the HD39HDR, and to its credit, it can get fairly loud if you need it to. But the sound is unavoidably hollow which, while not unexpected from a tiny speaker crammed into a projector, doesn’t exactly fill the room with the cinematic sound that such a large image begs for. As with almost every projector, I’d suggest investing in an external audio setup and only using the built-in speaker if absolutely necessary. Your movie nights and gaming sessions will be much more enjoyable because of it.

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