Optoma HD33 Projector - Physical Tour
This Optoma HD33 shares a physical appearance, and overall exterior design, that is similar to other lower cost Optoma home, business and education projectors. Let's see what the 3D capable HD33 offers!
8/25/2011 - Art Feierman
Optoma HD33 Projector - Appearance
Smaller than most home theater projectors, it's a bit larger than average size for the lower cost single chip DLP projectors, but still a tad smaller than most 3LCD projectors and far smaller than any of the larger LCoS projectors (from Sony, JVC, LG, and Mitsubishi).
The mostly recessed lens of the HD33 is mounted well off center (be careful with your mounting calculations). If you are facing the projector it is located far to the right, while the only other front feature, the IR sensor for the HD33 remote control, is located right next to it, just slightly closer to the center. There are two screw thread adjustable front feet located at the far left and right.
The HD33 cabinet is sculpted, sloping upward from the front. To focus the HD33, just rotate the silver trim ring around the lens. To adjust the zoom, use the recessed zoom dial mounted on the top right behind the lens.
That lens is a 1.2:1 manual zoom. That's typical minimal placement flexibility for low cost DLP projectors, but far less than competing 3LCD projectors which typically have lenses sporting anywhere from 1.5:1, to as much as 2.1:1 which is truly great placement flexibility.
Vents are on the left and right. Facing the front of the HD33 the vents on the right are intake, and on the left, exhaust. You won't want to sit too close to the HD33 if on it's on a table to your left. You will definitely get a bit cooked from the exhaust heat.
Moving to the back - you find the input panel. The HD33 is typically endowed for its price range, but that too, is covered below.
HD33 Control Panel
Not much to report here, This Optoma lacks a typical top of the projector control panel. Instead there is only one button and three lights. Make sure you don't lose that remote control.
Actually, those controls consist of exactly: A power button. Right above it are three typical indicator lamps for Power, Temp and Lamp. You can see them on the picture of of the input and connection panel.
HD33 Projector - Input/Output
The HD33 is typically endowed. There are two HDMI 1.4a inputs (one circuit - two jacks, as is typical). In addition, there's also a component video, an analog PC input and composite video input, from left to right.
Next come control features. There's a DIN connector for the included 3D emitter (which offers longer range than DLP-Link), a small mini-USB service port, a 12 volt screen trigger, and finally a serial RS232 for command and control. Pretty standard, very basic, but for the addition of a 12 volt screen trigger.
The Optoma HD33 menus look very much like many previous Optoma projectors that we have reviewed. Of course it's got a couple of extras relating to 3D capability, but other than that, no real surprises. Let's take a look at the main menus and a few of the more advanced ones:
Above, the main Image menu. Below, the Display mode pull down, which can be reached from the menu above, or directly from a button on the Optoma HD33 remote control.
Above, the Advanced setting on the Image menu. Calibration is done in the Color settings area. Below, the PureEngine sub-menu.
Above one of the Pure submenus, PureMotion, which is the CFI control, with three settings and off.
The Optoma HD33 has some nice touches on the Display menu. They offer Edge Masking, my preferred solution if you have edge noise around your image. Note, 3D settings are here, not the image menu.
Blu-ray 3D automatically configures the HD33. You can manually set the controls for other formats, if they do not come up correctly.
Optoma HD33 Remote Control
The HD33 remote control is nicely laid out. In addition, it's range seems pretty good, better than many, although the beam is relatively tight, so you quickly have to learn where to point it at your screen to get a good bounce.
I have one major complaint about the Optoma HD33 projector's remote, and it's an old complaint, I've leveled at Optoma before. Strangely: The backlight is too bright!
A few years ago, I never thought I'd say that, but, if you want to adjust the brightness and contrast, say of the projector, using a pattern, the remote's backlight will blind you. When I was using the controls for adjustments I had to hold the remote upside down, with the lighting away from me so I could get a feel for the subtle changes on the screen.
OK, it's great going with blue LED lights for backlighting, but please, pick a dimmer LED bulb or cut down on it's brightness another way.
As to the layout itself: Power On and Off have separate buttons on the top row. Press twice, to power down.
Next come four aspect ratio buttons.
After that, it gets more interesting, the remote goes to 3 buttons across with the center button a bit higher on the remote. That row gets you directly to key menu functions. From the left to right:
Brightness, Pre-set modes (ie. Cinema), and Pure, which gets you to the menu for adjusting dynamic features; Pure Detail (dynamic sharpness?), Pure Color (dynamic color, plus - think like Brilliant Color), and Pure Motion: creative frame interpolation for smoother motion.
The next three button row: Contrast, Lamp mode (Standard, Bright, and Image AI), and finally 3D Modes.
Next comes four arrow buttons in a round configuration with a center Enter button.
Finally below that to the left, is a small Menu button. All that's left below that are direct input buttons - HDMI 1 and 2, and PC, on one row, and on the bottom row, Component Video and Composite (a trend seems to be starting - home projectors without an S-video. I've seen others recently, as well.
All considered, a perfectly fine remote, other than being too bright. Button feel is reasonably good. Learn where the buttons are, and the LED light brightness can be dealt with. On the "bright side" when the room is fully darkened, the remote can double as a nice (blue) flashlight for reading Blu-ray disc boxes, finding your snacks, etc. I guess there is a silver (blue?) lining to many issues.
Optoma HD33 Lens Throw
Optoma's lens offers pretty basic 1.2:1 zoom ratio, providing minimal distance placement flexibility. 1.2:1 is common on lower cost DLP projectors although some have even less, a few 1.1:1 and 1.15:1 are out there. Lens throw distances work out like this for the normal 100" 16:9 aspect ratio, HDTV shaped screen:
Measured from front of the lens, to the screen, the HD33 projector can be placed as close as 10 feet, 11 inches , and as far back as 13 feet 1 inches. These are rounded numbers, taken from the HD33 manual. Generally manufacturers caution with their published numbers as approximate, so try to stay at least one inch inside their claimed range.
Firing the Optoma HD33 at a 100 inch, 16:9 diagonal screen, the center of the lens needs to be approximately 7 inches above the top of your screen (if ceiling mounting), or 7 inches below the bottom of the screen if sitting on a table...
The amount of lens offset is modest compared to many single chip DLP projectors including some other Optoma's. In fact, most such low cost DLP projectors have about 16.5 inches of offset, a real problem for theaters or family rooms with 8 foot or lower ceilings, if you want a fairly large screen.
With the more modest, roughly 7 inches of offset, this will work much better for most folks. On the other hand, if you have a rather high ceiling, then the HD33 will have to mount further down on a longer pole than projectors that offer more.
I believe Optoma's decision to limit the amount of offset to only about 7 inches, is a major plus compared to the competition, in most cases. Of course, the HD33 is no match for one of the 3LCD projectors, all of which offer genuine lens shift, and far more placement flexibility.
Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen
I find it strange that a $1499 projector supports an anamorphic lens and sled, which normally means $3000 - $5000 extra. None-the-less, the Optoma HD33 projector offers an LBX mode, which when engaged, stretches the vertical, which is exactly what is needed for working with an anamorphic lens.
So, thanks, Optoma, for the extra aspect ratio, but I suspect very, very, few people will go this route.