Despite being one of the cheapest HD Ready projectors in town (along with the InFocus IN76), the build quality of the Optoma Themescene doesn't bode well. The finish is flimsy and lightweight, while the zoom and focus rings feel loose and cheap, although the white finish looks good from a distance.

Still, the connections are more promising, especially with the discovery of both HDMI and DVI sockets: such dual digital provision is rare even on projectors costing twice as much.

You also get component jacks in accordance with the HD Ready spec, as well as S-video and composite video options, a 12V trigger jack, and an RS-232C. There's no VGA PC input, but the DVI can take PC as well as video signals.

At the HD72i's heart lies a 1280 x 768 DLP chipset, delivering a high claimed 5000:1 contrast ratio. The DLP colour wheel, meanwhile, is an Optoma-designed 4-speed, 7-segment affair.

Pictures receive backing from Faroudja's DCDi de-interlacing and image optimisation circuitry Motion Adaptive Noise Reduction and TrueLife enhancements intelligently identify and boost image detail, if necessary. BrilliantColour and TrueVivid processing are here too, for boosting colour vibrancy without making tones unnatural.

There are also numerous user-adjustable features, including RGB gain/bias adjustment, horizontal and vertical keystone tweaks, and degamma presets. After a slightly fiddly few minutes of set-up, we settled down to watch Revenge of the Sith in HD from a Sky HD box. And we liked what we saw.

The HD72i generates an immediate cinematic quality that's supremely involving. Dark areas of the picture look impressively deep, nicely toned and surprisingly subtly shaded, giving the picture a superb sense of scale.

Then there's the outstanding colour range, which portrays everything from the skin tones of the actors' faces to the myriad hues of the Star Wars universe with a touch so deft yet so vibrant that it could belong to a projector costing twice as much.

Revenge of the Sith - especially in high definition - is particularly tough for DLP projectors because the heavy focus on facial close-ups can cause the technology to generate quite severe dotting noise as people move across the screen. However, the HD72i copes with this problematic area pretty well, especially when you consider the price.

Perhaps inevitably for this money the HD72i doesn't completely escape DLP's rainbow effect, especially during night-time scenes, and pictures don't look as crisp as some LCD or more expensive DLP models.

But what did you expect from the DLP world's joint-cheapest HD Ready projector? Despite having a less than substantial design, the HD72i's delivers the performance goods far more emphatically than you've any right to expect for £1,500.