Theme Scene H55

  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • High brightness and contrast
  • good range of inputs.

Cons

  • Expensive.

If you want high-quality movie viewing, and you're prepared to pay for it, Theme Scene's H55 may well be the projector for you. High brightness and contrast, a range of inputs and a compact design all make for a very good projector. However, it's the most expensive product in this group test.

The H55 is an XGA-resolution DLP-based projector, manufactured by Optoma and sold under the Theme Scene brand to differentiate it from Optoma's business-oriented products. The brightness rating is 1000 ANSI Lumens, and the contrast ratio a massive 1000:1. This high claimed contrast is achieved by using a small clear segment in the H55's colour wheel that lets more light through. It's also a high-speed wheel, so you should see fewer artefacts with fast-moving images than early DLP-based projectors.

Both focus and zoom are manually operated, with the throw range and image size range being wide enough to cover most domestic situations. The projection is angled upward somewhat, and since the H55 doesn't have lens shift this allows you to get an image at a good height without needing to place the projector too high.

All the inputs you could wish for are included: VGA, DVI-D, RCA component, S-Video and composite. With this selection, you can use virtually any video source with the H55. You'll probably get the best image quality for DVD movies from a PC with a DVI-D output, and bearing in mind the cost of this projector, spending a couple of hundred pounds more on a new graphics card isn't going to add that much to your overall outlay. There are three audio inputs, and an audio output that is switched between the inputs according to which video source is selected. The H55 also has a 12V relay output, unique in this review, that is used to control an automatic projection screen. This allows you to set the screen up to lower when you turn the projector on.

At 27.7 by 22.5 by 8.5cm, this is quite a compact projector. Although we'd never call it an ultraportable unit (it lacks a carry handle for a start), it won't take a team of people to move. The compact design does have its drawbacks. We noticed that the projector itself and the exhaust air from it were quite hot. The exhaust air exits the projector from the front of the unit, and the input connectors are all on the right hand side, so you can use the H55 close to a rear wall.

The menu system for the H55 is quite easy to navigate, using a set of tabbed pages, similar to some application interfaces. Each option is clearly labelled, and icons are used where appropriate. You can alter the projection aspect ratio, allowing you to feed 16:9 anamorphic images to the projector.

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The H55's remote control gives you access to most of the projector's functions without needing to navigate the menu system. The control has a backlight which allows you to see which button does what, even in a dark room. However, you'll have to learn which icon refers to which function, since the text label for each button isn't illuminated.

You'd have to be serious about home cinema to buy a projector as expensive as the Theme Scene H55, but you'll be getting a very capable product. Sanyo's PLV-60 is the only other projector we'd put in the same class at the H55, and there are many things to trade off between them. Size, light output, inputs and lens shift are all factors to consider. Although some other projectors may equal or exceed the H55's capabilities in one particular area, this is a fantastic all-round projector -- albeit at a price.

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