Optoma Announces First DARBEEvision-enabled Video Projector (Reviewed)

Optoma HD28DSE DLP Projector w/Darbee Visual Presence
Optoma HD28DSE DLP Projector w/Darbee Visual Presence. Image provided by Optoma

Optoma, one of the leading makers of video projectors, has teamed up with DARBEEVision for its HD28DSE DLP Projector.

The Basics

Starting with the basics, the HD28DSE provides full 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution for both 2D and 3D viewing while delivering an impressive 3,000 lumens of white light output (Color light output, and 3D light output will be lower), 30,000:1 contrast ratio, and an impresive 8,000 hour lamp life in Bright/Dynamic Mode (this is great news for 3D fans.

For 3D viewing, the Optoma HD28DSE uses the active shutter systems and glasses require separate purchase. However, one thing to note is that there are little or no crosstalk issues when viewing 3D using a DLP projector, and the enhanced light output of the HD28DSE should compensate well for brightness loss when viewing through active shutter 3D glasses.

Connectivity

The HD28DSE has two HDMI intputs. One of the HDMI inputs is also MHL-enabled, which allows connection of compatible smartphones, tablets, and the MHL-version of the Roku Streaming stick.

For added content access capability, the Optoma also provides a powered-USB port that allows connection of streaming devices, such as the Chromecast, Amazon FireTV Stick, BiggiFi, and Non-MHL version of the Roku Streaming Stick, as well as an optional Wireless HDMI connection system (WHD200) that eliminates the need for those long HDMI cable runs if the HD28DSE is mounted on the ceiling.

Audio

Although, for the full video projector viewing experience, it is best to have an external audio system, video projectors with built-in speakers are becoming more common. For the HD28DSE, Optoma provides a single built-in 10 watt speaker that works in a pinch for small rooms or business meeting settings.

Darbee Visual Presence

Moving beyond the basics, connectivity, and content access, the big added bonus on the HD28DSE is the incorporation of Darbee Visual Presence processing, which is provided on top of the projector's standard video processing and upscaling capabilities.

Unlike traditional video processing, Darbee Visual Presence does not work by upscaling resolution (whatever resolution comes in is the same resolution that goes out), reducing background video noise, eliminating edge artifacts, or smoothing motion response, everything original or processed before it reaches the Darbee Visual Presence process is retained, whether good or bad.

However, what Darbee Visual Presence does do is add depth information in the image via a innovative use of real-time contrast, brightness, and sharpness manipulation (referred to as luminous modulation). The restores the missing "3D" information that the brain is trying to see within the 2D image. The result is that the image "pops" with added texture, depth, and contrast range, giving it a more real-world "3D-like" look.

In addition, Darbee Visual Presence is compatible with both 2D and 3D signal sources and can actually enhance sharpness in 3D images further by counteracting the edge softening that can occur with normal 3D viewing.

Setting Up The HD28DSE

Setting up the Optoma HD28DSE is pretty straight forward, you can project on to a wall or a screen, and placement can be on a table rack, or mounting on the ceiling.

However, for ceiling installations, before you secure the HD28DSE permanently in a ceiling mount - position the projector on a movable table or rack to first determine your screen to projector distance a close as possible.

Additional setup tools providing include adjustable feet on both the front and rear of the projector, manual zoom and focus controls, as well as horizontal, vertical, and four corner keystone correction.

Another setup aid that is provided are two built-in test patterns (a white screen and a grid pattern). These patterns can further aid in centering the image and making sure it is filling the screen edges properly, and that the image is properly focused.

Once you connect your sources, the HD28DSE will search for the input of the source that is active. You can also access the source inputs manually via the controls on the projector, or via the wireless remote control.

NOTE: If you have purchased an accessory 3D emitter and glasses - to view 3D, plug in the 3D transmitter to the provided port on the projector, and the turn on the 3D glasses - HD28DSE will auto detect the presence of a 3D image.

Video Performance - 2D

The Optoma HD28DSE does a very good job displaying 2D high-def images in a traditional darkened home theater room setup, providing consistent color and detail.

With its strong light output, the HD28DSE can also project a viewable image in a room that may have some ambient light present. However, there is some sacrifice in black level and contrast performance. On the other hand, for rooms that have may not provide good light control, such as classroom or business conference room, the increased light output is more important and projected images are definitely viewable.

The 2D images provided very good detail, especially when viewing Blu-ray disc and other HD content source material. However, black levels, although acceptable, are not inky deep. In addition, when you turn the projector on the initial image on the screen displays some color shifting from a warm-greenish tone to a more natural tone after about 10-15 seconds.

To further determine how the HD28DSE processes and scales standard definition and 1080i input signals (such as what you might encounter from standard definition DVD, streaming content, and cable/satellite/TV broadcasts), I conducted a series of standardized tests. Although factors, such as deinterlacing were very good, some of the other test results were mixed.

3D Performance

To check out the 3D performance of the Optoma HD28DSE, I used the OPPO BDP-103 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player in conjunction with an RF 3D emitter and glasses provided for this review. It is important to note that the 3D glasses do not come as part of the projector's package - they must be purchased separately.

Using both numerous 3D Blu-ray disc movies and running the depth and crosstalk tests available on the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark Disc 2nd Edition I found that the 3D viewing experience was very good, with no visible crosstalk, and only minor glare and motion blurring.

However, the 3D images, although sufficiently bright, are still a little darker and softer than their 2D counterparts. Also, the color has a slightly warmer tone when compared to 2D.

If you are planning to devote some time watching 3D content, definitely consider a room that can be light controlled, as a darker room will always provide better results. Also, run the lamp in its standard mode, and not the ECO mode, which, although saving energy and extending lamp life, does reduce the light output that is desirable for good 3D viewing (The projector automatically kicks into a brighter mode when it detects a 3D content source).

Darbee Visual Presence Performance

One added innovation that has been incorporated into the Optoma HD28DSE (the first projector to do so) is Darbee Visual Presence processing (DarbeeVision for short). Darbeevision is another layer of video processing that that be optionally implemented independent of the projector's other video processing capabilities.

Darbeevision is different that other video processing algorithms is that is does not work by upscaling resolution (whatever resolution comes in is the same resolution that does out), reducing background video noise, eliminating edge artifacts, or smoothing motion response.  Everything original or processed in the signal chain before it reaches the projector  is retained, whether good or ill.

However, what Darbeevision does do is add depth information in the image via use of real-time contrast, brightness, and sharpness manipulation (referred to as luminous modulation). The process restores missing "3D" information that the brain is trying to see within the 2D image. The result is that the image "pops" with improved texture, depth, and contrast range, giving it a more real-world look, without having to resort to true stereoscopic viewing.

Darbeevision can be used with the projector's 2D or 3D viewing modes. In fact, when used in conjunction with true 3D, it "restores" some of the edge loss, as 3D sometimes has a tendency to soften the image in comparison with its 2D counterpart.

Another aspect of Darbeevision is that it continuously adjustable, so the degree of its effect can be set, or disabled, to viewer preference via an onscreen setting menu, which also provides a split-screen option so you can compare before and after results in real time.

There are three "modes" - Hi Def, Game, and Full Pop - the effect level is adjustable within each mode. Out of the box, the Optoma HD28DSE Darbeevision processing option is set to Hi-Def mode, at an 80% level, which provides a good illustration of how it can improve the viewed image.

For some split-screen examples, check out pages my suppplementary Optoma HD28DSE Photo Profile.

Having had previous experience using Darbee Visual presence in both a standalone processor and built into a Blu-ray Disc player, I found that the Optoma HD28DSE implements this option in the same manner and delivers equivalent results.

Audio Performance

The Optoma HD28DSE incorporates a 10 watt mono amplifier and built-in loudspeaker, which provides adequate loudness and clear sound quality for voices and dialog in a small room, but, not unexpectedly, lacks both high and low frequency response.

However, this listening option may be suitable when no other audio system is available, or, as mentioned above, a small room. However, as part of a home theater setup, I would definitely suggest that you send your audio sources to a home theater receiver or amplifier for that full surround sound listening experience.

What I Liked About The Optoma HD28DSE

1. The inclusion of Darbee Visual Presence.

2. Good image quality from HD source material for the price.

3. Accepts input resolutions up to 1080p (including 1080p/24). Also, all input signals are scaled to 1080p for display.

3. Compatible with HDMI 3D sources.

4. High lumen output produces bright images for large rooms and screen sizes. This makes this projector usable for both living room and business/educational room environments. The HD28DSE would also work outdoors at night.

5. Darbeevision is a great added video processing option.

6. Very fast turn-on and shut-off time.

7. Built-in Speaker for presentations or more private listening.

8. Four Corner Keystone correction is an interesting option that aids in projector setup.

9. Backlit Remote Control - Makes is easy the buttons in a darkened room.

What I Didn't Like About the Optoma HD28DSE

1. Good deinterlacing/scaling performance from standard resolution (480i) analog video sources but mixed results on other factors, such as noise reduction and frame cadence detection.

2. Black level performance is just average.

3. Limited video input options (only HDMI is provided).

4. 3D is slightly dimmer, softer, warmer than 2D.

5. No Optical Lens Shift - only Keystone Correction provided.

6. Fan Noise is noticeable when viewing in bright modes (such as is required for 3D).

7. No video noise reduction setting.

8. DLP Rainbow Effect sometimes visible.

9. When you first turn the projector on, as it warms up, the color tone of the image not accurate for about the first 10-15 seconds.

Final Take

The Optoma HD28DSE DLP projector is very interesting video projector.

With its relatively compact size, on-unit control buttons, remote control, and operating menu, it is easy to setup and use.

The 2,800 maximum lumens output capability, the HD28DSE projects both a bright and large image suitable for small, medium, and large size rooms in most homes. The 3D performance was very good with regards exhibiting very little, if any, crosstalk (halo) artifacts, but is slightly dimmer when projecting 3D images (but you can make adjustments to compensate). Also MHL connectivity, allows easy content access form compatible smartphones and tablets.

On the other hand, although the projector does very well with HD resolution sources, delivering excellent detail and very good color, such as Blu-ray Disc and HD cable/satellite, its built-in video processing delivers mixed results with lower resolution, or poor quality (noisy) video sources.

However, what makes the Optoma HD28DSE standout as a good performer is the incorporation of Darbee Visual Presence which literally adds a "another dimension" in the video projection viewing experience by adding more depth and texture to both 2D and 3D images, independently of the projectors other video processing capabilities.

Taking all into consideration, although not perfect, the Optoma HD28DSE offers a different twist on the video projector viewing experience that delivers practical results - thus deserving high marks.

For a closer look at how Darbee Visual Presence works, check out my past reviews of the Darbee DVP-5000. standalone processor, and my review of the OPPO BDP-103D Darbeevision-enabled Blu-ray Disc player, as well as the Official DARBEEvision Website

UPDATE 11/16/15: Product Photos and Video Performance Test Results

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