Turn on the Search Light
My quest to find the ultimate projector started several years ago. I knew I needed a projector with a higher lumen rating to ensure that I could deliver a nice, bright image in any lighting situation. I wanted to stay under the $2,000 price point, and I ultimately settled on a Toshiba projector that I purchased online through Costco. The projector does fairly well, but it lacks the ability to play back HD video.
Since we have been doing all of our SDEs with DSLR cameras, I really wanted to display the work in all its HD glory. I soon found that looking for a new projector was more difficult than I thought. Doing some research online, I found a large selection of HD projectors that were reasonably priced.
Unfortunately, a lot of the projectors I found aren’t geared toward the type of locations where we display our SDEs. Most HD projectors are created for the home theater market. These projectors are designed for darkened rooms where it’s easy to control the lighting. The lumen ratings for home theater projectors often fall below 2,000 and can go as low as 500.
My next option was to look for projectors that had a lumen rating of 3,500 or better. Typically, these projectors are meant for small auditoriums, churches, clubs, and high-end theater applications. They’re often much larger than the average portable projector and are meant to be permanently installed. Cost was also an issue. Several HD models in this lumen-rating range ran well above $5,000.
Another alternative was the business-class projector. These projectors often have better lumen ratings for displaying video in conference rooms. It used to be that most projectors for the business market were meant for running PowerPoint presentations from a laptop.
Business presentations remain these projectors’ primary focus, but now we’re seeing several that also display HD extremely well. Optoma has a great line of business projectors, and with its head for business presentations, lumen rating, and price point for HD SDE delivery, the Optoma TH1060 fit the bill.
From PC to Screen
Now that I had the projector I wanted, I began to think about how to display our work in HD. We usually export our SDEs to DVD and run them off a portable DVD player. Blu-ray is another option, but with the time it takes to encode and burn a Blu-ray Disc, this approach is just not fast enough.
Enter the media player. There are several media players on the market now, and the one I recommend is the Western Digital TV. Western Digital makes several models, including one that will stream video from your PC through a network connection. I can easily export my timeline into an MPEG-2 HD file that I can load onto a thumb drive. I connect the thumb drive to the USB port on the media player and I am set to go.
It’s All in the Details
Optoma’s TH1060 is the update to the company’s TX1080, and when the engineers developed this model, they took the time to get it right. This projector is geared toward the business user in a conference setting, but it works well for event videographers/filmmakers and AV companies who display video at weddings and corporate events.
With street pricing less than $1,400, the TH1060 is a great choice for videographers looking to upgrade to a true 1920x1080 projector.
One key advantage of the TH1060 is its lumen rating. In Bright mode, the TH1060 will put 3,600 lumens on the screen. The lumen output is powerful enough to display your video in the toughest of lighting situations. I tested the projector in our living room with large windows in full sunlight. The picture looked bright and vibrant, and the colors really stood out. Low-lamp mode drops lumen output in every mode by roughly 30%, but it extends the life of the lamp by an additional 1,000 hours. The projector can be set as close as 5' away and as far away as 35' for a much larger screen. Our 8' Da-Lite screen requires the projector to be set 15' away from the screen, which is perfect for most dance floors and reception rooms.
The TH1060 cranks out 3,600 lumens and a 1920x1080 image.
Another benefit is logo display. Optoma has built in a great feature that allows you to swap out the Optoma logo with your own logo or screen shot. The projector will do a simple screen capture and save it to display the next time the projector is powered on. The easiest way to capture a clean-looking logo is to burn it to a DVD or Blu-ray Disc to play back on the screen. The process of loading the image does take some time (up to 3 minutes), so I recommend that you do that before your event.
The TH1060’s filter-free design makes it a low-maintenance device. It’s made possible thanks to its sealed light engine, which cuts projector maintenance to vacuuming the vents on occasion and switching out lamps when they expire. And with an estimated 3,000-hour maximum life, the lamps do not expire often. Replacement 280W P-VIP lamps were selling for $200 online at the time of this review.
The TH1060 also packs powerful sound, courtesy of a 3W speaker, which is more than what’s available on most other projectors in its weight class. I was surprised at how good the sound was coming out of the speaker. Having a built-in speaker is great for verifying your audio while testing your setup. For showing SDEs, I recommend a dedicated sound system. Sending audio to the DJ is the best option for full-room, high-quality audio.
The TH1060's built-in 3W speaker
The TH1060 features just about every connection that you would need for projecting your SDE or photomontage. It comes with a DVI port, component, composite, S-Video, and two HDMI ports, as well as RCA audio in and 1/8" audio in and out.
Connectivity options on the TH1060
Another curious connection on the back is a 12V port. In reading through the manual, I discovered that this connection is used to power a trigger that can raise and lower a powered home theater screen when the projector is turned on and off. I was interested in seeing if this 12V outlet could power my Western Digital TV media player. I took a quick trip to Radio Shack to buy the correct connectors and found out that it can power the Western Digital TV. This is great because that’s one less power adapter that I will need to bring. All I have to do is run an extension cord out to my projector and I am in business.
Manual Zoom and Focus controls on the TH1060
In the event that your projector breaks, getting it fixed as quickly as possible is very important. Optoma’s Express Replacement warranty means that the company will ship you a replacement projector before you even return the malfunctioning unit, limiting downtime to the absolute minimum possible. This does vary somewhat over the course of the warranty. During the first year, Optoma sends a refurbished projector, but during the second and third years, the company sends out a “loaner” while your projector is repaired. However, the end result is the same: You have a working projector in a matter of days, not weeks.
Optoma’s TH1060 is a fantastic projector for SDEs that will work in just about any lighting situation. It’s capable of putting a very bright, large image on a screen from just about any distance. Using a portable media player such as the Western Digital TV media player speeds up the time it takes to show your SDE without requiring you to burn a DVD or Blu-ray Disc. The Express Replacement warranty minimizes downtime, and the cost of replacement bulbs makes it feasible to keep an extra on hand. I highly recommend the TH1060 to any event or corporate studio looking to upgrade its projector.