Optoma HD8000 and HD80 DLP Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance
Check out how the Optoma HD80 fared in our comparison report.
Topics in this section:
Optoma HD80, HD8000, with optional Anamorphic Lens
HD80 and HD8000 Menus
User Memory Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
Optoma HD80, HD8000 with Optional Anamorphic Lens
Optoma offers an optional Anamorphic Lens, with motorized sled option for $3999 additional, for those planning on a 2.35:1 (Cinemascope) shaped screen. It works with both the HD80 and HD8000 projectors.
When using the Anamorphic lens and matching screen, the placement difference and screen size, of course, are different than using a 16:9 screen without the optional lens.
When using the Anamorphic Lens, one selects the Letter-Box aspect ratio option from the remote control, or menus.
The actual result, is a wider image, and the projector stretches the vertical, so every pixel is used, and there is no letter box at the top and bottom. This also means a brighter overall image, since all pixels are in use.
The real question is: Does one buy a $3000 projector and a $4000 lens system, or does it make more sense, since you are spending the bigger bucks for the lens system, to buy the step up products - either the HD81, or HD81-LV?
Myself, I would think it makes more sense to buy the higher end projector as well, but I can also understand the idea, that if you want the cinemascope setup, you aren't hyper-critical of the last few percent of performance, and the budget is tight, I can see that scenario as well.
Optoma HD80 Projector: Menus
Overall the HD8000 Menus are fairly logically though out, although there are a lot of levels for some of the advanced features. For example - from the main menu system, switching lamp brightness or controlling Iris settings are two levels down, three if you count the top Main menu.
Let's take a look. Note: The menus of the HD8000 are very similar to the HD81 and HD81-LV projectors we've reviewed already. There should be a couple of differences between the HD8000 and the HD80, however if you want to find those differences, you'll probably have to look up the user manual on the Optoma site.
Pressing the Menu button on the remote or the one the Optoma projector's control panel, you will see the menu to the right; the Image Menu. On the left side, you can see the three other primary menus as well: Display, System, and Setup.
The Mode gives you the choice of 3 User presets. All are slightly different. I used User 1 as the basis for most of my work. In addition the Mode lets you select from ISF Day, and ISF Night, if you have had your projector professionally calibrated, giving you a total of five sets of settings. I suspect that the HD80 will not show the ISF Day and Night settings, as it is not ISF certified.
After that, there are the usual basic image controls, like brightness and contrast. Unfortunately if you scroll down, to, say, Brightness, you then have to Enter or right arrow key which will then bring up your ability to adjust Brightness. It would be nicer if once on Brightness, the left and right arrow keys simply let you change the value, instead of essentially opening another window, and adding several extra keystrokes.
The last item on the Image menu opens the Advanced menu, shown to the right, which gives you access to adjust the following: Noise Reduction, Gamma, Degamma (shown below), and Color Temperature. Also shown below is the Color Temp Menu. In addition to the three presets (Warm, Mid, and Cold), you can access the User menu, shown immediately below. From this menu, you can individually control the R,G, and B Contrast and Brightness settings. This is where most of the calibration work gets done - to come up with a well tuned grayscale balance for movie watching. The ideal is a color temperature of 6500K.
Some notes on a few of these options. Gamma allows 10 steps of control of the image, leaving the blacks black and the full intensity colors and white, as is, but adjusting the lower, mid, and upper ranges. For example, movies are looking for a higher gamma to provide a richer (and some would say darker overall) image.
Color Vividness seems similar to TI's Brilliant Color circuitry. It seems to affect a number of aspects of the image, but basically allows you to increase intensity, theoretically, without oversaturating.
The next major menu is the Display menu shown here.
Format allows you to select the aspect ratio for your content. From reading the manual, the most interesting feature might be the Edge masking. The manual does not clearly explain what this is for. Image shift, I am familiar with. It allows you to move the image up or down the screen. If you have a full screen image, using image shift will cause you to lose part of the image. If though, you are working with a letter boxed 16:9 movie, you could move the image up the screen so the top of the actual content, is even with the top of your screen. If you have the ability to control how far down your screen goes (motorized or manual), for example, you could only extend it as far as the 2.35:1 Cinemascope shape. Then by moving the image up, you would fill the visible screen and not have a letterbox. I always thought that was a usable feature for some.
Moving to the System Menu, we find a couple of key capabilities, beyond selecting menu language or the background color. You can select source from here, but more interesting, you can program the 12 volt triggers for screen control, which would allow you to control a motorized masking screen. Equally important, is the Projector sub menu, which allows you to control the Iris (auto, off, or manual - with 16 settings), and the all important lamp mode. From there you can select low power or full power settings.
The last major menu is the Setup menu - which, as you can see, allows source selection, and control of source search, letting you mountain folk access high altitude mode, adjust auto power features, and a system reset.
In other words, the HD8000 (or HD80) offer fairly extensive controls of not just image quality, but almost all aspects of use.
Optoma HD80 Memory Settings
The HD80 projector has User settings in a few place, but does not offer formal saving of the settings. Image modes: Between the three User areas, plus ISF Day, and ISF Night (those two are for calibrators), there are plenty of savable areas. There is also user color temperature, and you can have different settings for each of the 5 modes.
Without, formal Save settings capability though, you should definitely store what your settings are. For example, you might be using User 1 mode for movies, but find a particular movie needs some adjustment because the production qualities left something to be desired. So, let's say you increase color saturation, and reduce contrast. That is now part of your setting, and will remain until you change it. No big deal, when you want to return to YOUR "default" setting for user 1, and you know what it is, but if you don't record it, I hope your memory is very good.
Optoma HD8000 Remote Control
One notable difference between the HD80/HD8000 and their more expensive brethren, the HD81 and HD81-LV, is the remote control. I really like the blue LED lit remote for the more expensive Optomas. I'm less enthused with the remote provided with the HD8000.
On the plus side, this Optoma remote has a fairly bright backlight. On the downside, the range of the Optoma remote control is rather limited. I can never manage to get a good bounce off my screen with this Optoma remote series. So, when watching in my theater room, with the projector about 16 feet from the screen, and about 4 feet behind me, I have to point the remote over my shoulder. With most projector remotes I don't have trouble with this type of distance.
Of course a slightly smaller screen and room, cut down your firing distance, but I stlll count it as a minor pain.
OK, let's quickly run through the features.
Top left, all alone is the Off/On switch (press once for on, and two for off). Next come six buttons that provide direct control for Brightness, Contrast, Image-AI off on, iris control Gamma, and Brite mode.
Right below them, are the image shift up and down buttons.
Then comes the classic arrow key configuration with a center Enter button. Just below on the right, is the Menu Button, and the Preset mode button is opposite on the right.
Overscan and Edge masking are just below.
After some space, you get four buttons for different aspect ratios. And lastly, six buttons for the six HD8000 inputs!
The layout overall is good, but I find the menu button, even though easy to find by feel, to be very small and wedged between the arrow keys and the Overscan button. My guess is that Optoma doesn't expect consumers to spend much time in the menus, with so many direct access buttons above. For a reviewer though... too much time is spent in the menus.
Optoma HD8000 Projector: Lens Throw and Lens Shift
The HD8000 has no adjustable lens shift, which makes it pretty much either ceiling mounted or table top. The shelf option is basically non-existent. The projector will end up being placed (due to the significant fixed lens shift), either well below the bottom of the screen, or ceiling mounted well above the top of the screen. If you are using a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, that offset is going to be just over 16 inches (above the top or below the bottom of the screen surface).
In terms of placement distances; for a 100" diagonal screen, the front of the lens can be as close as 13 feet 6 inches, to approximately 16 feet 2 inches from the screen. That's only a 20% range, far less than the range offered by LCD and LCOS home theater projectors.
A good place to start in determining if the HD80 is for you, is to see if you can place it in your room. If your ceiling isn't too low, however, you should be fine, when ceiling mounted, as that's where you have maximum flexibility. If ceiling mounting, try to get some space between the projector and the ceiling (not flush mounting) as the hottest part of your room is the six inches closest to the ceiling. Being down 8 to 12 inches means better ventilation, a cooler running projector, and ultimately probably a slightly longer lamp life.
Optoma HD8000 Screen Door and Rainbow Effects
I love 1080p resolution projectors - pixel structure visibility is no longer a real issue.
I viewed the HD8000 in my theater room filling about 115" diagonal of my 128" diagonal Stewart Firehawk G3 screen. To make out any pixel structure at all, in credits or stationary type and graphics on the screen, I had to lean foward and strain, and I have really good vision. I never could spot pixel structure in any normal viewing. And 11 feet back from a 115 inch diagonal screen is fairly close!
What about rainbows? The HD8000 and HD80 are classic DLP projectors, but, unlike most, they have a 6X speed color wheel, instead of the usual 5x. That means even fewer than the normally very small portion of viewers may see rainbows (which are most visible when fine edge white areas are moving across a dark background). That also means even those rainbow sensitive that see them occasionally on a dark movie scene, are not likely to ever see one while watching a football game, or a typical well lit sitcom. Fortunately for 95+% of the population (my best guess), rainbows will not be an issue. I happen to be slightly sensitive to the rainbow effect, mostly on fast moving bright objects on a dark background, and especially when I'm tired, or am moving my head. Truth is, it hadn't occured to me that I rarely noticed any rainbows during the 30 or so hours of viewing, until I noted the 6x spec. At that point, I said to myself, "you know, I was wondering why I had only spotted the rainbows a few times, despite lots of content viewing that would tend to make rainbows more visible."
I had owned two 5X color wheel DLP projectors prior to my JVC, and learned to live with the occasional rainbow (maybe a few times a movie), but, on principle, I always wished I they were less noticeable. I appreciated the Optoma after just coming from reviewing the InFocus IN82 with its 5X color wheel.
Bottom line, the 6x wheel may not be the perfect cure, but it may mean that, the limited group of people that won't buy DLP projectors because they can spot the rainbow effect, is now an even smaller group.
Optoma HD8000 Home Theater Projector: Light Leakage
The Optoma leaks a small amount of light out the lens. You can detect it if your walls aren't dark, and the scene on the screen is extremely dark (black, or maybe a starfield). Although easy to spot when feeding the projector the right dark image to project, it isn't something that I noticed during normal viewing. Better than most.
Optoma HD8000 Audible Noise Levels
Audible noise levels is a chronic Optoma weakness. In all fairness, it shares this flaw with most (but not all) DLP home theater projectors. It is the usual formula: if you are really adverse to any fan noise, you are probably, just probably, going to be OK, with the HD8000 or HD80 in eco-mode (low lamp brightness). With the lamp in full power, these projectors will drive those really noise adverse, crazy!
For the rest of us, well, the HD8000 and HD80 projectors are a bit noisy, definitely acceptable in low power, and probably just fine in full power. We're talking about a projector in that 32db - 33db range, with lamp on bright. The trick for most of us, is that the fan quicky is blotted out by our brains, much like we rarely notice if our refrigerator is "running" or not. We might notice when it kicks on or off, but almost immediately we forget about its noise, because it is consistent, and low pitched.
Overall, not a problem for most of us, but your sensitivity, size of your room, and acoustics could make it an issue.
Optoma HD8000 Brightness - Measured Lumens
The Optoma HD8000 and HD80 brightness performance is good, overall, brighter than average. In best mode, using default settings (degamma = film, gamma set to 1, Color Temp = Warm) the projector put out 858 lumens in "best mode".
Sadly, default best movie mode, isn't that good. After adjustment, with a great looking image, brightness measured in at a still brighter than most 561 lumens. These measurements were taken with the iris open.
Dropping the lamp into its low brightness mode only brought about a drop in lumens measured to be about 11%. That should be consistent across various presets.
In Brite mode the HD8000 measured 868 lumens and did even better in TV mode, at 1006 lumens. Still, it comes up shy of the 1300 lumen claim. I have no doubt, however that you can sacrifice some overall image quality and crank the HD8000 up close to 1300 lumens by creating a user setting focused on achieving the brightest picture. This lack of a really tricked out "brightest" mode, is a mystery to me. I don't understand why they haven't set one up, and especially if they are going to call it a 1300 lumen projector, they shouldn't have to make us work hard to get our 1300 lumens.
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Optoma HD8000 Lamp Life and Replacement
Oh, how typical: 2000 hours in full power mode, and 3000 hours rated for low power. That has to be the "industry norm".
When it comes to replacing the lamp, the lamp door is on the bottom of the projector. That means you are going to have to unmount a celing mounted projector to change the lamp. That's a pain, but typical of most projectors. Problem is, its competition includes the BenQ W10000 and the Panasonic PT-AE1000U, neither of which requires unmounting to change their lamps.
Optoma HD8000 Projector Screen Recommendations
For most people I think that a white screen with modest gain (1.1 to 1.4 gain) is probably ideal. Of course if you have side ambient light, a nice high contrast gray surface can really help a lot, but if ambient light isn't your problem, then this should be pretty straightforward.
For seasoned videophiles who want to really darken the blacks, the high contrast gray surface like my Firehawk works great, as well. My point is, that the black levels are sufficient to satisfy the vast majority, without needing a gray surface.
I also usually point out that if you are going with a smaller screen (under 100" diagonal), then you might find a projector to be a bit too bright. That however is not a possibility with the HD80 and HD8000 projectors. The adjustable manual iris will easily allow one to darken the image significantly. I didn't measure, but I suspect that you can combine low power lamp mode, and the iris to come up with less than 200 lumens, if you had to.
I'd like to mention that there are some new screens "optimized" for 1080p projectors. Basically they have a finer surface structure. My new Firehawk G3 is one of them, and I can see the difference (slight), between it, and my older Firehawk, in that regard. I imagine we'll be seeing more "1080p" resolution screens in the future, so keep an eye out for them.
Optoma HD8000 Calibration
Let's start with initial, out of the box, measurements. Setting up with color temp on warm, looking for 6500K color temp, was a disappointment. With the projector lamp on bright, starting with 100 IRE (white):
To get a significantly improved color balance, here are the settings I came up with:
Set the Color Temp to User:
The numbers in ( ) are the default numbers
Gain: Red (100) 100, Green (100) 84, Blue (100) 79
Offset: Red (128) 128, Green (128) 128, Blue (128) 127
This yielded significantly improved grayscale color balance:
And with it, the heavy shift to green and blue is gone and skin tones look really good.
Here are the color temperatures for white (100 IRE) for the other settings. I didn't adjust any others (as I had one great for movies):
Bright mode: 7844K
TV mode: 9396K
OK, that's it. I'm sure a professional calibrator can manage to at least match my improvements to grayscale, and probably do so without giving up as many lumens as I did. For those of you who don't go the calibration route, let me remind you that there will be variance from projector to projector, most notably with the lamps. So don't expect my settings above to perform exactly the same on your projector. Still, they should get you much closer to a great image than the projector will offer out of the box.
Optoma HD8000 Image Noise
Optoma uses Gennum processing on their higher end HD81 and HD81-LV projectors, but I believe that the HD80 and HD8000 projectors are using image processing from Pixelworks. Overall image noise performance is perfectly acceptable, using the HQV test disk. The Optoma did well on all the standard jaggie and standard motion artifacts tests. There is some slight background image noise, but at levels typical of DLP projectors. I do not run the many different cadence tests.
Time for a quick look at the Warranty, then the Summary section!