Apparently, sub-£2k DarkChip3 DLP projectors are like buses: you wait a lifetime for one, then two come along at once. What's more, this new Optoma is a whole £400 cheaper than its DarkChip3 rival, the InFocus IN78. But is it as good?
First impressions bode well, as its combination of a reasonably diminutive form, glossy white exterior and silver trim all catch the eye to good effect.
Connectivity goes beyond the call of duty by providing two digital video inputs: HDMI and DVI. The DVI input also does PC duties.
Elsewhere are component video inputs plus, of course, S-video and composite video options for anyone desperate enough to use them.
The HD73's DarkChip3 chipset helps it produce a claimed contrast ratio of 6000:1, which on paper far betters what the IN78 is able to do. Unusually, the HD73 uses a 16:10-ratio 1280 x 768 chipset, as Optoma apparently argues that this combination makes it better suited to be a true movie/PC all rounder.
Elsewhere Optoma has gone to town on the image processing front by including Faroudja's standard DCDi de-interlacing chipset, and Texas Instruments' BrilliantColor and TrueVivid technologies ostensibly for making colour tones richer.
An Image AI option lets the projector select the optimum image settings for what you are watching. It's worth noting that I didn't find the HD73 as flexible during its setup as I found the rest of the projectors in this collection, partly due to a rather uninspiring 1.2x zoom.
While decent, Optoma's amazingly good value DarkChip3 offering certainly isn't as sophisticated as, say, the InFocus IN78, thanks to a sprinkling of small but niggly issues that plague it.
The first problem is that while the black level is impressively deep, I thought dark parts of the picture looked rather hollow and forced thanks to a distinct lack of greyscale subtlety.
I was also much more aware of DLP's rainbow effect here than with the InFocus, especially during scenes in King Kong with strong contrasts, such as those where Ann is being prepared for her sacrifice to the big ape.
On the positive side of things, the colours offered up are impressively rich, giving the pictures an impressive solidity. From time to time, this richness comes at the expense of a little naturalism, especially where the various greens of Skull Island's jungle and the occasional skin tone are concerned. But on balance this seems a fair price to pay for all that extra vibrancy.
Also, as suggested earlier, although somewhat hollow, dark picture areas enjoy remarkably deep black levels, which gives a genuine cinematic depth to its images. Finally, we were delighted to see that the picture is packed full of fine detail, making high-def footage look textured and credible. That said, the IN78 arguably looks sharper still.
On paper, the Optoma HD73 walks the walk, offering a remarkable specifications for £1,600. But when viewed alongside some of its rivals, it can be found a little wanting.