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Optoma HD37 Projector Review

The Optoma HD37 is a DLP based 1080p multimedia projector featuring a single 0.65” DC3 DMD chip. It features a rated 20,000:1 contrast, high light output with an advertised 2,600 lumens, and sharp, quality optics. It isn’t the quietest unit, especially when not in Eco mode, and it puts out quite a bit of heat, but it does feature some vertical lens shift for increased installation flexibility. For those looking to calibrate, the Optoma HD37 features ISF day and night modes.

At a street price of $999, the Optoma HD37 is a bit more expensive than our recommended pick, the BenQ HT1075. Even in Cinema mode the Optoma HD37 pumps out enough light to combat some ambient light, plus you wont miss out on much shadow detail since this DLP projector does not have the best black level. The Optoma HD37 makes a great budget gaming projector with low input lag and a built in speaker for portable gaming sessions.

Setup

Specs
Manufacturer: Optoma
Model: HD37
Lumens: 2600
Display Type: DLP
Resolution: 1920x1080
Inputs: Two HDMI (w/MHL), VGA-in, composite video, stereo audio-in, RCA stereo audio-in
3D Support: Yes
Projector Size: 11.26" x 4.88" x 10.43"
Projector Weight: 7.7 lbs.
Review Date: July 31, 2015
Price: $1,404.60
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The Optoma HD37 is quick and straightforward to setup. With its limited lens shift and vertical offset, this projector is best suited for a ceiling mount. For my temporary review setup, I was able to place the projector on a coffee table in front of my couch. The offset allowed for a proper rectangular image with no keystone adjustments needed. The downside is that even zoomed all the way out, to fill a 110” diagonal requires a distance of approximately 11 feet. Rear shelf mounting is not possible with the HD37 without angling the projector and using keystone correction and this never yields the best possible picture quality. The range of in-focus sharpness was larger than most projectors and made focusing a snap with the manual ring in front.

There are the usual array of inputs on the back of the Optoma HD37 with the only notable surprise being that both HDMI inputs are MHL compatible.. Outputs consist of stereo out, 12V trigger, USB-A (for charging 3D glasses), and a 3D sync output for the optional RF emitter.

There are several preset modes including Cinema, Reference, Bright, and Game. For all content including gaming, I went with Cinema mode and the Dynamic Lamp turned off. ISF calibration can be stored in a Day and Night mode setting.

When choosing a projector it is always best to evaluate your setup and install location to allow for optimal picture quality. If your setup isn’t ideal, there is a degree of digital keystone correction available in the Optoma HD37 menu but picture quality noticeably suffers if you use it.

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The included remote is a nice size with a few different button shapes to help navigate in the dark. The remote also features customizable User buttons. They are basically shortcut buttons that you can setup from an array of commands such as Color Settings and Gamma. It’s a neat addition and one that more remotes should include. On the downside however, after an initial button press, the blue LED backlight turns on and it is way too bright, especially in a dark home theater. It was bright enough to feel harsh on my eyes.

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Inside the HD37 is a 10 watt speaker which won’t blow anyone away but works great in a jam. Since this projector is easily portable (Optoma even includes a cloth carrying case), having a projector capable of outputting audio is handy. Toss this projector on a table and shine it on a wall during an impromptu game day. If you do care what the announcers have to say, you are ready to play ball with the Optoma HD37.

The noise from the speaker may be optional but the noise generated from the fan is not. When the Optoma HD37 isn’t in eco lamp mode, the fan noise is excessive. With a front table top setup and the lamp set to eco mode it was bearable, but ceiling mounting would be better as it would create enough distance from the viewer and fan. The fan also adjusts speed when the HD37’s dynamic lamp mode is turned on and that change in tone can be a distraction.

The Optoma HD37 is a single chip DLP projector and does suffer to a degree from the rainbow effect. Darting your eyes around the screen will show this effect, and high contrast objects are especially vulnerable. I am fairly sensitive to it but was never bothered by it even during longer viewing sessions.

Common on a lot of projectors is a variable iris that changes how much light is output from the lens. This helps with contrast and the black level on dark scenes. The Optoma does not have a variable iris, instead it changes the output from the lamp itself. They refer to this as Dynamic Black Level and there is even a button dedicated to turning it on and off via the remote. The most noticeable effect of the Dynamic Black mode was the changing fan noise which I noted above. With brighter scenes the lamp output increases along with heat and thus the fan speed must increase to dissipate the additional heat.

The Optoma HD37 comes 3D-ready, meaning no glasses are included in the box. There are two options for watching 3D content on the HD37. You can either use DLP Link brand glasses or RF with an optional external adapter ($49). DLP Link 3D glasses have a directional signal, meaning they only work when facing the screen. Turn your head and they often lose the signal and take a second to resync after turning back towards the screen. The RF signal is omni-directional, so turning your head away won’t cause the glasses to lose 3D sync. It is nice to have both options for 3D available on the HD37, however, it would have been nice for the RF emitter to be included.

Overall Image Performance

Out of the preset image modes, Cinema looks very good for out of the box settings. Reference was too warm for my tastes and Bright mode didn’t yield much more pop. I disabled Dynamic Black mode and set the lamp setting to Eco mode.

Interstellar on Blu-ray looks very good on the Optoma HD37. With some ambient light in the room, the brightness is strong enough to still show off the shining stars and lift the NASA space shuttle off the screen. The IMAX scenes are filled with excellent detail and the sharpness of the Optoma HD37 is a clear benefit. The corn fields have a rich green hue that feels natural and never over-pumped in Cinema Mode. Skin tones on the various characters look good, but that slight greenish tone to the black floor can mess with the hue under certain scenes where a dark shadow is cast on a character’s face.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows features some dark scenes with loads of shadow detail. If black level and shadow detail is an important aspect to you than it might warrant investing more into a projector. In this price range however, the Optoma HD37 keeps up with the competition, mainly the BenQ HT1075. Shadow detail ranges from ok to good and these dark Harry Potter movies are its worst enemy. In a light controlled room, the HD37 does not produce anything close to a true black and that also hurts color contrast. Don’t expect colors to “pop off” the screen with this projector and if that is what you are looking for LCD is a better fit. That being said, the Optoma HD37 produces a fine image that should please most viewers.

During scenes ranging from normal to bright, even with only one bright object on the screen, like in Interstellar, the HD37 does a great job. American Sniper on Blu-ray has wonderful image quality and loads of detail. The dirt and textures are well represented via the Optoma’s excellent optics. Very sharp, but never unnaturally so.

3D performance is good, as is common with DLP projectors. There is little to no crosstalk and the colors do a good job of correcting for the glasses. The Optoma HD37 is more than bright enough to make 3D look good, something that more expensive projectors can struggle with.

Gaming performance is excellent on the Optoma HD37. The input lag is low enough not to affect a player’s performance during intense online multiplayer combat. Network lag will always greatly outweigh the small amount of display lag on the HD37. Motion is sharp and smooth although the rainbow effect was a little more noticeable with my eyes darting around while playing Batman Arkham Knight. The solid brightness and large visuals means picking out  the enemy in the shadows is that much easier. The built in speaker allows for easy setup during gaming parties as well. No need for an additional sound system and the projector is small and light enough to carry over to a friend’s place.

Conclusions

The Optoma HD37 is a bright, sharp 1080p DLP projector that given the right conditions is easy to setup and generate some beautiful looking visuals. It is a terrific choice for those on a budget looking for a projector that has enough light output to combat some ambient light.

It’s main competition is the BenQ HT1075 which is currently cheaper than the Optoma HD37. That price difference makes the BenQ a better buy and the Optoma HD37 doesn’t do a whole lot more than the BenQ. The MHL HDMI inputs allow for a quick and painless route to stream content to an HDMI stick such as the Roku Streaming Stick. If you have a light controlled environment and are looking for a better image with darker black level and more contrast, than LCD is still the way to go. It will cost more but they also offer more installation flexibility. Gamers should keep the Optoma HD37 on their short list of under $1K 1080p projectors.

Review Summary
Product: Optoma HD37
Reviewer:
Pros: Sharp and bright enough for some ambient light, good 3D.
Cons: Limited lens shift, will not work for rear shelf mounting. Sub-par black levels compared to LCD projectors.
Summary: The Optoma HD37 is a great choice for a combination of movies, sports, and gaming in an open environment with some ambient light.
Value: 3.5/5
Performance: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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  • Julian Seidenberg

    I want to display a combination of powerpoint slides and videos in an environment with a fair amount of ambient light. Which projector would you recommend? This HD37, or the BenQ HT2050 / HT1075, or something else entirely? Thanks.

    • I’d look at something more like the BenQ TH670. I usually suggest people step-up to the HT2050, but if you have lots of ambient light, you can’t notice the difference in contrast ratios. The TH670 is also very bright which is good for that: http://amzn.to/2f6dvLa