Optoma HD33 Projector - Image Quality
A lot of processing goes on from the start of a photo shoot until you are viewing the Optoma HD33 images on your computer screen. As a result, these images are decent indications, but not accurate enough for comparing color, saturation and other aspects. Note: Selected images relating to shadow detail, and especially black level performance can be very effective at demonstrating how the HD33 positions itself compared to other home projectors. Different computers, browsers, displays, graphics cards, and software affect how the image looks on your screen.
For all of that, I believe that the HD33 images came out particularly well, in terms of representing the color the Optoma HD33 projector is capable of.
I've always said, that all home theater projectors, including the Optoma HD33 definitely look should look better live, than in even the best looking images here might suggest. And that's why we love projectors!
8/26/11 - Art Feierman
Optoma HD33 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Cinema mode looks overall the best, with Reference not far behind. Photo has punch, and Bright is often too bright in the mid brightness range. Overall, Cinema is a touch thin on red, but skin tones still look very respectable.
Optoma HD33 Projector - Flesh Tones
Using the HDMI inputs, there's no access to the color or tint controls. With that the case, skin tones sometimes seem to have a bit too red, due to color saturation, with no ability to conveniently reduce them. For a family room projector, picture quality, notably skin tones are very pleasing. I've found the HD33 to rather forgiving when viewed.
Above and below, our usual suspects - Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, on Blu-ray.
Below are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Patrick - to have different looking skin tones. All look pretty good!
More images we like for considering skin tones:
The image immediately above with Willis and Morgan Freeman is a good example of a scene where the reds can be a bit strong in the skin tones. It won't happen in bright scenes, but darker ones.
Optoma HD33 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
HD33 Black Level Performance is entry level. Optoma claims a 4000:1 contrast ratio and by today's standards, that's near the bottom of the food chain. Black level performance is ok. the HD33 can't compete, at all, when it comes to black levels, with a few similar and lower priced 2D only projectors. I'm thinking of the Mitsubishi HC4000 and the Epson 8350, for openers.
I didn't do any side by side photo shoots with the HD33 projector. Sorry about that. I still have it as I write this, so perhaps a direct competitor will arrive before I have to return this Optoma.
Let's look at the Starship image from The Fifth Element. All the images are a good bit overexposed. This allows you to get a better handle on the black levels. If the starship's brightness is about the same, from image to image, then the projector with the blackest blacks in the letterbox and stars background, is the one with the blacker black performance. (A lot of bright stars in its own right may just reflect gamma differences. It's the blacks you want to be watching.
You'll note that the letterbox area of the HD33 image immediately below, is already a medium dark gray. If you compare to the others, about the only one that looks worse (in terms of blacks) is the old Optoma HD20, as most of the others have a definite advantage.
Viewsonic Pro8200 projector:
Sony VPL-HW15 (LCoS projector under $3K)
Vivitek H1080FD ($899)
Optoma W6000, Optoma's next step up, with better black levels.
Shadow Detail Performance
Our primary comparison image is the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Optoma, followed by the BenQ W1200, Viewsonic Pro8200, the HC4000, the BenQ W6000, then Sony VPL-HW15, the Sharp XV-Z15000.
All considered, the HD33 shadow detail is pretty good, not stellar. Reminds me of the slight loss of the darkest shadow detail, that I liked to complain about with the Epson projectors. That is to say, the Optoma HD33 projector is definitely loosing a touch more in the dark shrubs by the track, than a few direct competitors, but we're really quibbling here.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: HD33 Projector - Bottom Line
Black level performance is what keeps the HD33 to entry level performance in 2D. Otherwise, all it's nice features like CFI would elevate it a bit. Shadow detail is just fine.
If you are running the HD33 in a nice bonus room, or family room where walls aren't real dark, you likely won't notice or mind the difference between the HD33 projector and those with better blacks, due to conditions. It's when you get into a nice theater type room where you really can appreciate much better blacks on dark scenes, that the HD33 falls short.
Optoma HD33 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
The HD33 looks and cooks like a DLP projector, and while a bit rough around the edges seems to always put up a clean, enjoyable image on the screen. Darker scenes have that richness that I associate with DLP projectors.
Generally scenes look very natural. As I said elsewhere, the HD33 is rather forgiving. Perhaps not the closer to flawless picture that many enthusiasts demand, but a fine picture for those who just want to enjoy. If only the black level performance was a notch better, this projector would really be a wonder for the price.
For those folks who are rainbow sensitive, I found the HD33 to be good for a low cost DLP projector. I have seen rainbows at times, so this isn't a match for some of the faster wheels. My understanding is that it is a 3X color wheel, but that's rated, I believe, at 120hz. If that should translate into 6X on standard 2D content, though, I'd be surprised, because it's rare I spot rainbows on one of those rare 6X color wheel projectors that are out there.
A mix of additional images to show off the Optoma HD33:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Optoma HD33 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The HD33 is nice and bright in 2D, and, guess what!?! The HD33 does a reasonable job in 3D on sports as well, as long as your screen size isn't too large. I watched some X Games in 3D, as well as golf, tennis, and college football. Nice.
Just above, is how the back of my room looked for the HDTV photo shoot. The blinds are partially open, but my dark surfaces and the distance from the screen absorb a lot of the inbound light before it reaches the screen.
I even got to use PUREMotion, Optoma's CFI when running 3D. I believe it smooths out the action, and even the 3D a bit. Very impressive!
Most of the time I viewed sports in either Cinema or User, but if I wanted an overall brighter seeming image, due to a different gamma, Photo mode would seem to be the best one against ambient light. Bright mode tends to wash out the mid bright areas somewhat with some content, and is fine on other content. Still, I couldn't bare to use Bright mode consistently when watching sports.
Since all the modes are relatively similar in brightness, though, that's hardly a concern.
All kinds of 3D content look good on the HD33. That's not to say there isn't some cross talk, but the 3D picture is most watchable, brighter than the more expensive projectors we've seen to date. I viewed, some travel content such as tours of China and San Francisco, nuclear submarines from Smithsonian HD (I think), 3D concerts by Guitar Center, (including Social Distortion), and lots of sports in general.
Optoma HD33 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports
The HD33 does well for sports and general HDTV viewing. Not only does it do a respectable job in 2D, but, I'd rather watch 3D on my screen, on the HD33, than the $12,000 JVC that came though here eariler this year. The difference - this HD33 is almost twice as bright, and it's lumens are needed.
Also of note, sports on Blu-ray 3D, look even better than what I'm getting from DirecTV. I've got FIFA soccer, and Ultimate Wave3D Tahiti, with some awesome surfing. One more time. A fine family room style projector, in both 2D and 3D. Just remember, you don't get any glasses with the projector. Those RF glasses will set you back $99 a pair at the time of first shipments.