Doesn’t this feel overly familiar? That is what I was thinking when unboxing and viewing the HD28HDR, another DLP projector from Optoma to satiate the seemingly bottomless casual home theater market. Additionally, the timing for a projector like this couldn’t be better (albeit at the cost of a global pandemic) since there’s even more time to enjoy your favorite games, or catch up on whatever shows and movies you wanted to secretly binge on.
Noticable Déjà vu
A main detail I immediately noticed about the HD28HDR is that it looks completely identical to HD39HDR reviewed a while back. It’s the same shell draped in glossy white with horizontal grated slats, and numerous vented openings on the sides to circulate air and unwanted heat. On the top sits the usual array of function and menu buttons, with status lights and an IR receiver for the remote. The style is basic for quick mode selections.
The included remote is also the same, down to the white LED backlighting and simplified array picture adjustment and source buttons. Once again, functionality is adequate and everything you’d normally want to tinker with has a shortcut; not bad, not great, but good enough to get the job done.
Connectivity for the HD28HDR is further parred down to the essentials, sporting two HDMI ports, a 3.5mm audio output, and a 5V powered USB port. A single 3W monologue speaker comes built in can easily fill a normal living room, but audiophiles will benefit from a separate soundbar—even better an dedicated AV receiver for fixed setups.
In terms of 4K/UHD viewing, both HDMI ports can produce an image—albeit at 60Hz on the second input (HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 HDR-enabled) and 30Hz over the first input (HDMI 1.4/HDCP 2.2). It’s worth noting that while the HD28HDR is 4K compatible the native resolution is 1920×1080, so you’re not getting a de facto representation of ultra HD. A 0.47” Texas Instruments DMD achieves the effect through pixel shifting, a cost-cutting method of multiplying the resolution up to a scaled 4K image. A lot of sub $1K projectors utilize this technology and the HD28HDR’s attractive price reflects this.
The HD28HDR is an incredibly bright home projector, outputting 3,600 ANSI lumens when left in Bright mode at an estimated 4000 hours of usage. That amount of lamp life is short but can be greatly extended by switching to ‘Eco’ mode, and keeping lamp brightness on this economical setting can net roughly 10,000 hours of longetivity and 15,000 hours when coupled with the additional ‘dynamic black mode’ before needing to swap out the lamp. Couple this with certain presets and you could potentially get away with 3 years of constant use before replacement. As of this writing I’ve put 780 near-constant hours on the lamp without the HD28HDR overheating, so that’s another impressive feat if you plan on this being a TV replacement or (if you’re like me) just leave it on all the time.
Late last year I covered the HD39HDR and a lot of what I said in that review will also apply here, simply because the HD28HDR is a step-down model. Everything including a 6-segment RYGCWB color wheel, main picture adjustments and latency enhancements for gaming remain intact.
Out of the box color temperature once again exhibited warmer/reddish tones requiring some tweaking in gamma, BrilliantColor boost, and display mode presets. Additionally, the HD28HDR has fewer presets to choose from (Cinema, Vivid, Game, Reference, HDR, Bright, 3D, User) but each one can get you the desired picture you want based on your preferences. Of course, owners can further dial things in by opting for ‘User’ or specialized ‘ISF’ presets, the latter of which are locked away for custom calibrator jobs.
HDR options are minimal and solely focused on making hues pop realistically. I left it on ‘Standard’ but this could be unconventionally used in to keep ambient light in check for daytime viewing, or to further dial in details in terms of atmosphere. You are only getting HDR10 so other gamut formats like HLG and Dolby Vision will missing here.
For buffs who are enamored with viewing stereoscopic 3D material, the HD28HDR is capable doing so either natively with DLP-Link (glasses not included) or via third-party IR/RF/polarized glasses. You’ll have to manually enable it through the picture menu but you have the choice of displaying content automatically, or in side-by-side, top-to-bottom or frame sequential methods. I have a feeling most people won’t utilize the 3D imagining, but home theater projectors are known for bringing an immersive experience home that enthusiasts can appreciate at least.
The HD28HDR’s most appealing traits happens when you enable the Enhanced Gaming Mode which reduces all the picture processing that include (but not limited to) keystone adjustment, image shifting and digital zoom. All the physical screen finetuning is disabled but that input lag is dropped to a quick 16ms, which is within game mode territory seen on LED/QLED/OLED TVs.
Another perk is the optional 120Hz refresh rate when connected to an Xbox One or PC, making it almost ideal for input smoothness that can work in tandem with the Gaming Mode. Like the HD39HDR reviewed prior, Optoma says you’ll be able to obtain a stellar input lag count right down to 8.4ms, which is closer on paper to other high-end gaming monitors. All of this makes for fantastic gaming, although pixel resolution is limited to 1080p and you sacrifice HDR but makes the HD28HDR somewhat feasible as a large scale/BFG display for PC setups.
Throughout my prolonged (and self-quarantined) time with the HD28HDR Home Theater Projector, the obvious takeaway is that this is a cheaper companion to the HD39HDR I reviewed before. A lot of what I explored back then is either untouched or further streamlined, making the HD28HD the $650 option of an already budget-oriented $800 projector. It sounds redundant, but it ends up sweetening an already good deal for both gamers and casual cinephiles tastes. Overall, the HD28HDR is probably the better option for tighter wallets—without losing anything substantial in the process.