We’ve said it before – Optoma makes a fantastic projector. Founded in 2002, this multinational corporation has headquarters in Taiwan with markets all over the world. Optoma is best known for specializing in DLP and LED projectors, as that’s been a large facet of their market over the last two decades. Specifically, their claim to fame is their range of home theater projectors. The brand has built a reputation around the longevity of their models (easily lasting 5-6 years without issue) as well as the variability for any price point. For such a well-loved brand, the Optoma HD146X is no exception. But will it work for you?
Let’s jump right into it and see if this sleek, modern-looking model has everything you’re looking for!
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Who is this Optoma HD146X for?
Setting up a home theater can be a lot of work, especially if you’ve just begun exploring your options for the perfect projector to upgrade your home movie nights. Just maybe, you aren’t just looking for a way to watch the next big Marvel blockbuster but also interested in something that can pull double duty for gaming and the occasional slideshow. That makes things infinitely more complicated, especially for an amateur. From there, there are a host of factors to consider, including your space, budget, and the output you want.
However, if you want something that’s got a great price point while being versatile, you may want to check out the Optoma HD146X. As we said, Optoma is a great brand and the HD146X is a fantastic example of exactly what they can do when it comes to combining affordability with power. This projector is a good choice for someone dipping their toes into a home projector set-up. It’s perfect for a plug-and-play machine that will give you great brightness at a fantastic cost. Additionally, it has features that make it an option for gamers looking to taking their experience to the next level, including a dedicated gaming mode that makes this projector even more appealing for those looking to dip their toes into a dedicated home system.
As we’ve said, this is a great model for a starter home theater. What makes it great? It has a tidy list of features that help it hold its own against more expensive, flashier models. Here are some of the highlights of the Optoma HD146X, including a quick rundown of the basic specs:
- Brightness: 3,600 ANSI lumens
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- Aspect ratio: 16:10 (HD)
- Contrast: 25,000:1
- Color processing: 10-bit
- Number of colors: 1.07 billion
- Video modes: 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p, 480p, 480i
- 240W metal halide bulb
- Lamp life: 4,000 hours / 15,000 (in Economy mode)
- Integrated 3.0 watt mono speaker
- Throw distance: 3.3′ – 32.2′
- Image size: 28.05″ – 301.59″
- Throw ratio: 1.47:1 – 1.62:1 (D:W)
- Includes Digital Zoom feature
- Vertical Digital Keystone only
- Lens shift: No
- Projector size: 4.30″ x 12.40″ x 9:50″ (HxWxD)
- Weight: 6.2 lbs
- Audible noise: 28 dB
- HD compatibility: Full HD 3D
- Enhanced gaming mode: 16ms input lag
For a mid-range projector, the Optoma HD146X doe does not have an extensive range of connectivity. It comes with the most basic ports you’ll need for general use but doesn’t offer much beyond that. This includes:
- HDMI x 1
- 3.5mm Stereo Audio x 1
- USB Type A x 1
Sleek modern look
The Optoma HD146X has a visually appealing design, especially compared to many other comparable models. The sleek, curved shape offers a very modern look, and the black is a nice touch if you want to give your theater a uniform aesthetic.
The buttons are all located on the top of the device which may impact the manner you mount this for permanent display. The roller adjusts image size while the buttons swap settings. However, the included remote control increases functionality.
Like most Optoma models, the HD146X comes with very intuitive autofocus that doesn’t distract viewers from the screen. It takes very little time or calibration to get your audience a crisp, clean image that won’t recalibrate constantly while in use.
Most projectors in this price range feature Full HD. This one certainly does. This makes the image crisp, sharp, and detailed which certainly enhances your viewing experience. As a note, it does not support HDR.
However, it is capable of displaying images in 3D. While the Optoma website doesn’t currently offer any 3D glasses, you can generally pick them up elsewhere online.
While it does not offer 4K, most living room setups don’t typically allow for the average viewer to see the difference anyway. Given that this model is designed to be a starter home projector, you won’t find your viewing experience impacted by the lack of it.
With the HDMI port, you have the option of 3D viewing if you’re using a Blu-Ray player. This projector features full 3D support, although you will need to purchase glasses separately for use.
Dynamic Black Technology
One feature touted by the Optoma HD146X is the inclusion of the brand’s Dynamic Black Technology. This feature gives more depth to your image by smoothly adjusting the lamp output to create a stunning high contrast ratio. Bright scenes appear crisp and clear, while dark scenes remain detailed with deep blacks and exceptional light and shade detail.
Dedicated Gaming Mode
One of the great features this Optoma model offers is a dedicated gaming mode – Game Display Mode – that cuts down on the input lag and boosts the visuals, allowing for a better gaming experience.
HDMI-Link technology enables control of the projector and connected devices using a single remote, all via the HDMI connection. Up to 15,000-hour lamp life delivers many years of use with minimal maintenance when using Dynamic mode.
Pros and Cons
As we’ve said before, no projector is perfect! It’s important to take a look at the good and the not-so-good that each one offers before you make your final choice.
What makes this projector a good choice? We’ve compiled the features you’ll want to take note of during the buying process.
When it comes to price, it’s hard to beat the affordability of the Optoma HD146X. It retails at around $550 online at this time. This is especially true when it comes to considering options for a starter home projector. This projector consistently ranks on buyers lists for best projectors under $1000 thanks to the great mix of features, durability, and overall quality of the device.
The Optoma HD146X will give you a viewing experience on par with a standard HD television. The projector features full HD 1080p resolution, guaranteed to give you a fantastic, crisp image in any setting. Optoma is a brand known for having great image quality, so it’s no surprise you’ll get a fantastic viewing experience with this model.
Enhanced gaming mode
As mentioned above, this Optoma model comes with an Enhanced Gaming Mode. This mode delivers lightning-fast input response times of 16ms, perfect for fast-paced and competitive console or PC gaming. It cuts the delay in your gaming experience, meaning the image you’ll see on your screen is broadcasting in real-time. No more frustrating lost kills or failed timing puzzles. It’s the next best thing compared to a dedicated (and expensive) gaming monitor.
Game Display Mode also provides a visual advantage by boosting shadows and dark scenes, making your gameplay a more immersive experience.
This might seem like a small thing, but the remote control is backlit. This is a great touch and will help navigate your settings and controls in a dark room.
While the Optoma HD146X has plenty of good things going for it, it’s not without its flaws. There are a few things we found to be less than ideal when taking a look at this machine.
One of the most consistent complaints with this projector is the noise. While the HD146X labels the noise output at 26dbs, most consumers remark that the fan is actually much louder than that once in use. It’s most obviously noted when the projector has the Dynamic Black mode enabled. This can be an obvious distraction from quieter moments in a film, especially in a smaller space.
While the 3-watt speakers do put out some decent sound, they can still be drowned out by the fan if you have it positioned closer to your head. It makes set-up for this machine especially important.
One workaround for this is to use the Eco mode more frequently (as the fan is quieter) but that does decrease the brightness of the image. This is one of the biggest tradeoffs for the price point but it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, depending on your needs.
To be frank, this projector doesn’t offer any of the connectivity options most projectors in the same price range do. It only has three ports (as we’ve outlined above) that don’t give it much functionality as other models.
If you plan on a simple set-up, this may not be an issue. However, it can quickly become a problem if you’d like to build a dedicated home theater and find yourself in need of more versatile connection ports. For example, if you’d like to use it for both gaming and film projection, you’ll have to swap out that HDMI or provide yourself with a splitter to do the work for you. Depending on how you have it mounted, this might cause issues further down the line.
Since this is a DLP projector (and not LCD), the purported 3600 lumens on this machine don’t quite feel like it’s that bright. You’ll need to remove as much ambient light as possible. Some users have also reported that the Dynamic Black function on the projector doesn’t live up to the hype and can, in some cases, actually give many of the darker scenes (including skin tones) an unnatural hue.
Ultimately, while the image is gorgeous, it’s sometimes not as vibrant as other Optoma models.
While the Optoma HD146X is a reasonable starter projector, you may find that it doesn’t quite work for your space or specific needs. If that’s the case, there are other options available that might be a better fit. We’ve picked out two alternatives that may have different options you’re looking for. Check them out below.
While this model is a bit more expensive than the Optoma HD146X, it offers a few more features that make it worth the extra. It has a shorter throw range, giving you a 120” image at four feet, which makes it better for a small space. (For example, it’d be a great choice for anyone in an apartment.) It’s a little brighter, listing the output at 3,800 lumens, with far more robust options for connectivity (including two HDMI ports, one of which is HDMI 2.0, and VGA). Additionally, it still fits in the $1000 and under range of projectors.
As a note, the Enhanced Gaming Mode on this model drops the lag to 8.4ms. This is one of the lowest you’ll find in any price range outside of a dedicated gaming projector. It might make the Optoma GT1080HDR appealing for anyone who plans to do more gaming than passive entertainment.
Epson Home Cinema 2150
Another wallet-friendly option for a projector great for your home theater experience is the Epson Home Cinema 2150. While it’s not quite as responsive for gamine (the input is around 29.2 ms), that’s offset by the additional features including wireless capabilities, 10-watt speakers, full HD, and the same 1080p resolution. It also has the added bonus of streaming capability While it’s a little more expensive, it’s a great choice if you’re in the market for a home theater experience over gaming and looking for a mid-range projector. You can read our full review of the Epson Home Cinema 2150 here.
Setting up the perfect home theater experience takes work and a lot of research. However, if you want to get started without spending thousands of dollars, the Optoma HD146X is a fantastic choice. Paired with the right speakers, the most obvious detraction (the volume of the fan) becomes much less of an issue. This model offers a solid gaming experience as well, making it well worth the price if you plan to make use of it for that purpose.