The menus are logically laid out and simple to navigate, giving users convenient access to every performance aspect they might wish to adjust, from digital image shifting to Gain and Offset for each color. (Don’t try to adjust the Gain and Offset controls without the requisite skill and test equipment.) I backed off the Brightness and Contrast levels a bit from their factory settings and turned down the Sharpness considerably, but not completely off.
The HD7100 allows stepping through gamma settings ranging from 1.0 to 2.8. Gamma determines how quickly the light level rises out of black. The factory default of 2.2 is the right one. The 1.0 setting looked bleached out, and anything above 2.4 looked too dark.
The HD7100 recognizes each source and memorizes settings created for that source. When changing DVD players, for example, or moving the DVI cable from a disc player to a cable box, the projector reverts to its factory settings. Th erefore, any time you change the source, you’ll need to check the picture settings to be sure they’re right.
When powering up, the HD7100 defaults to DVI. It takes a long time (15–20 seconds) to recognize another active input. This can be annoying if you are trying to switch back and forth from DVI to component, as I did with the HQV test disc. A couple of times, it failed to lock onto an active input, and I had to return to the previous input and give it another go. Also, when using my Comcast DVR as a source, the DVI input would sometimes render the image as a split screen. The cure? Change channels on the DVR to reset the projector’s sync.
The final verdict comes down to price. At its list price of $3500, the Optoma HD7100 is hard to beat; at the widely advertised price of $3000, it’s an absolute steal. TPV