Optoma LV130 Review
Pros: Relatively good image quality
Cons: Poor sound quality, no remote, lacks automatic keystone correction
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The solid picture quality provided by the Optoma LV130 is, unfortunately, largely canceled out by a number of user-friendliness issues.
A poor showing in our ease of use testing put the Optoma LV130's overall score at the bottom of our chart, falling behind all of its small, pico-style cousins.
For a small, portable projector, the LV130's image quality is relatively good. It's certainly not worthy of being a permanent centerpiece in a dedicated home theater, but for use outside and while on the go it certainly passes muster.
The LV130's resolution of 800 x 480 is fairly standard for truly small pico projectors, and is able to produce a reasonably crisp image. Those of us that are used to high-definition video (which at this point, is pretty much everyone) should note that it falls quite short of the high definition mark (1280 x 720 being the minimum requirement to earn that moniker). That's not to say the LV130's image is blurry, it's probably just not quite as clear as what many of us are accustomed to.
When it comes to colors, the LV130 does about as well as one can expect a low powered, portable model to do. The relative dimness of the lamp shows up when projecting bright images, with white areas lacking a bit of pop and definition, a shortcoming common amongst pico projectors. However, it is able to produce brighter whites than some competitors, namely the Anker Nebula Capsule. Colors also look fairly accurate, if a bit muted. Its most egregious problem is adding unnaturally red skin tones, especially in darkly lit scenes, but this isn't so extreme that it will ruin your movie watching experience.
Despite the LV130's low resolution (when compared to larger models that would generally be used for presentations), it is still able to render readable text on an 80" screen down to font size 14. However, that text certainly isn't crystal clear, so we wouldn't recommend the LV130 (nor any pico models) for presentations where you need to make a good first impression.
Ease of Use
This is where the Optoma LV130 really falls behind the competition, providing very few of the thoughtful touches most other pico models offer.
First off on our list of grievances is the fact that the LV130 has nothing in the way of adjustable feet or anything else to change its angle in relation to whatever surface it is projection on. This means you either have to find a surface at the perfect height and angle on which to place the LV130, or you have to use a tripod (the latter being much easier). While the LV130 is small enough that a small gorilla pod or something of the like would work, we wish getting by without a tripod were easier. For example, the ViewSonic M1 and its built-in, hinged stand easily allow for a perfectly placed picture without a tripod.
On top of not affording any easy way to adjust the placement of the projector, the LV130 also does not offer any sort of automatic keystone adjustment. Since pico projectors are, by their very nature, meant to be moved around and used in many different places, most models provide automatic keystone adjustment to make setup quicker and easier. The LV130, on the other hand, requires some furious button-pushing to get the image square.
The final nail in the LV130's user-friendliness coffin is the lack of a remote control. Rember all of the button pushing it requires to adjust keystoning? All that button pushing has to be done on the body of the projector itself. Additionally, the controls are not sufficiently backlit, so you're likely not going to be able to read them when using the LV130 in a dark environment (which is the main type of environment where one would use it).
The Optoma LV130 uses an HDMI port as its main input, and has a USB port that can accept streaming devices like a Fire Stick or Roku. It doesn't have any sort of native Wi-Fi connectivity.
Poor Audio Quality
We don't expect any small, portable projectors to also have sonorous speakers. That being said, the LV130 is at the back of the pack in that regard. The thin, tinny sound definitely takes something away from movie watching. The experience is vastly improved if you use an external audio source, with even a budget basement Bluetooth speaker being a noticeable step up. In comparison, the ViewSonic M1's built-in speaker offers much better sound without much of a sacrifice in size or portability.
In our testing we measured the LV130's brightness at 120 lumens. This is well short of its advertised 300 lumens, but we've found this kind of exaggeration to be rampant in the projector world, so we wouldn't hold it against Optoma. That amount of brightness falls right in line with its main portable competitors, the Anker Nebula Capsule (98 lumens) and the ViewSonic M1 Portable (124 lumens).
This level of brightness really only works at night, or in a room with all the shades drawn. This is why we generally would not recommend using a pico projector for traveling business presentations, as even a little ambient light can make the picture quite dim. For watching movies in your home or in the backyard at night, however, this level of brightness is just fine.
Unfortunately, having a small, portable projector necessitates having a small, whiney fan. Like all of the other pico projectors we tested, the LV130's fan certainly isn't quiet. The higher-pitched whir is quite noticeable. However, it's innocuous enough that we think most people will be able to ignore it, or at least shove it to the back of their mind, after a few minutes of movie watching.
Pico projector prices don't occupy a very wide range, and the Optoma LV130's list price of $280 is right around average. Considering its ease of use drawbacks, we think spending just a bit more on the ViewSonic M1 Portable or the Anker Nebula Capsule would be a better use of funds.
The Optoma LV130 offers good image quality, but lacks many of the features we would expect from a convenient, portable projector.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata