Optoma HD36 projector review

Super-bright and with best-in-class speakers, this versatile Full HD DLP impresses

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We liked

For those who think that home cinema is an occasional luxury that is just not affordable or practical, the HD36 is serious food for thought. A searing brightness that is most unusual on a home cinema projector make it possible to watch films, TV and games in the middle of the day, whatever the ambient light levels.

That makes it a highly practical product, but it impresses in a blackout, too.

Great colours, exceptional detail and some smooth motion handling make it an impressive and good value option for a semi-permanent home cinema. Setup is relatively easy, too, with the vertical lens shift lever making the HD36 easy to align, as does its 1.5x zoom.

Is there a projector out there with better speakers than the HD36? I doubt it.

While design primarily as emergency audio for an impromptu games night or similar, movie soundtracks actually sound pretty good though the built-in 30W speakers.

Extreme minimalist might just get away without having to install a sound system, though that will only be convincing if you sit behind the HD36.

We disliked

The HD36's chunky look won't appeal to all.

It may be there to house a superior lens, but its big size means this isn't a projector to whip out of an cupboard for some quick-fire big-screen gaming or a film.

However, my biggest gripe is the provision of a sole HDMI input, which makes the HD36 seem anything but versatile (though anyone planning on hooking it up to an AV receiver via HDMI need not worry).

The HD36 doesn't provide class-leading black levels (though on such a high brightness projector, I hadn't expected it to) and neither are greens reproduced with as much full-on pizazz as on other projectors, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're a sports fan.

The big downside to having a super-bright bulb is noise, with the HD36 peaking at 57 decibels on Bright and producing 52 decibels on Cinema mode; the HD36 is pretty loud if you sit close to it.

Verdict

If you're planning on watching films in broad daylight, the HD36 is a no-brainer of a beamer.

Boasting great colours, superbly bright images and yet somehow also decent black levels, the HD36 is as versatile as it is good value.

Although it's no looker, and its sole HDMI input may be a concern to some, this do-it-all projector is ideal for semi-permanent home cinema.